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Art, Empathy & Evolution: A Conversation with Veronika Berezina
From Legal Prowess to Artistic Passion - Meet the Founder of NIKA Project Space
Feature 29 Jan 2024

In this interview, TheArtGorgeous chatted with Veronika Berezina, a lawyer turned gallerist, whose passion for art led her to establish NIKA Project Space in Dubai.

Veronika Berezina, NIKA Project Space Founder. Photo by Alexey Kostromin. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space.
Veronika Berezina, NIKA Project Space Founder. Photo by Alexey Kostromin. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space.

Can you tell us more about your journey from being a lawyer to becoming a gallerist, and what inspired you to open NIKA Project Space in Dubai?
I have always been drawn to art. During my studies of international law, I attended every course on the history of art I could find, and I started collecting on a small scale to support the artists I liked. Eventually, I was drawn to the idea of creating my own project in the art world. I found Dubai an interesting city located at the crossroads of different cultures while being open-minded towards new concepts, people, and projects. I admire its cosmopolitan character.

I think of art as a powerful tool for sharing feelings, experiences, thoughts, and concepts, as art connects us on a deeper level of human perception. Art can help build a more empathetic society, which is needed now more than ever. By opening NIKA Project Space, I feel we have created a space for such conversations to take place.

Veronika Berezina, Marina Vinogradova, Kristina Vasilevskaya (from right to left). NIKA Project Space Team. Photo by Alexey Kostromin. Courtesy NIKA Project Space.

The current exhibition at NIKA Project Space, “I Can No Longer Produce the Limits of My Own Body,” explores the natural and technological worlds in relation to the body, featuring predominantly women artists. Could you share the inspiration behind this exhibition and its significance?
I invited independent writer and curator Nadine Khalil to curate the show at NIKA Project Space after our conversation around Mirna Bamieh’s work at the 2023 Sharjah Biennial. We both loved her piece, Sour Things, and were fascinated by the fact that we were both drawn to the same work. Nadine’s research on the body and the different ways it relates to the environment inspired me to host a group show featuring artists from different countries exploring this topic. The exhibition includes Sour Things: The Kitchen, the second iteration of Mirna’s work, which we produced and which builds on her original piece for the Sharjah Biennial with a new sound composition created in collaboration with the American artist Isaac Sullivan. The show also features the works of Liane Al Ghusain, Dalia Khalife, Sara Niroobakhsh, Christiane Peschek, and Lilia Ziamou, all of whom look at the natural and technological worlds in relation to the body through visceral pieces that demonstrate the role of the body and its expanding boundaries in an era of rapid changes and ongoing conflicts. 

Your gallery has plans to open a European location in Paris in 2024. What motivated this expansion, and what can we expect from the new gallery space?
The idea of opening a space in Paris is based on the mission of NIKA Project Space, which is to amplify the voices of artists from typically overlooked regions of the world. I want audiences to become familiar with their practices and with concepts stemming from the diverse societies that form the world we live in.

Exhibition View. I Can No Longer Produce The Limits of My Own Body. 2023. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photo by Ivan Erofeev.

NIKA Project Space also has a residency program. Can you provide some details about the program’s goals and how it will contribute to the gallery’s mission?
I see the gallery’s mission as expanding one’s worldview and encouraging empathy through art. With this in mind, our residency programme, which was launched with the opening of the gallery in 2023, invites artists to participate in research trips in the region to discover the nuances of local societies and local life. By exchanging ideas and collaborating with locally-based cultural practitioners, there’s a unique opportunity to engage in dialogues. 

In March 2024, you will be presenting a solo exhibition by Katya Muromtseva. What drew you to this artist’s work, and what message do you hope to convey with this exhibition?
Katya Muromtseva’s works are not only visually stunning, but they are also powerful in evoking empathy. This exhibition brings the gallery’s vision of nurturing connections, fostering conversations, and broadening perceptions to life. Katya’s research-based work is a catalyst for stimulating discourse surrounding the nuances of societal experiences and historical narratives, and we are looking forward to presenting some of the works she created during her research and residency programme.

Katya Muromtseva. To Christina, watercolor, acrylic ink, paper, 318x200cm. 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

How has your background as a collector and patron of the arts influenced your approach to curating exhibitions and supporting artists?
It shaped my vision of the kind of relationships I would like to build with NIKA Project Space’s artists, curators, and collectors. I have enjoyed building a community of like-minded people, who appreciate the importance of creativity, conversation, collaboration, respect, and commitment.

Mirna Bamieh. Sour Things – The Kitchen. Installation view. 2023. Courtesy of NIKA Project Space. Photo by Ivan Erofeev.

As a gallerist, what are some of the challenges and opportunities you’ve encountered in the art world, and how do you see NIKA Project Space evolving in the future?
There have been a few challenges along the way, but also many opportunities. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing people in pursuing the project’s goals, and every collaboration has created beautiful memories. We will continue to amplify the practices of artists we connect with and provide opportunities for their voices to be heard. In the future, I hope that NIKA Project Space can play a part in changing perceptions and expanding the boundaries of the art world.

You can learn more about NIKA Project Space via their website here.

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