Power to the Public

Tricia Khutoretsky revives the art party with her wildly social new gallery, Public Functionary

Question: Bartenders, dance parties—is this a club or a gallery or both?

Tricia Khutoretsky: I’m about the social activity that happens around art as much as the art itself. But it’s not just parties. We’re pledging to stay open every Friday until midnight during a run. We’ll have a panel discussion. We’ll host a guest speaker. So it won’t just be an opening and then dead for six weeks.

In the past, you’ve showcased female Iraqi artists at Intermedia Arts. What shapes your global perspective?

TK: I was born in Thailand and grew up in Egypt. My dad had just decided that life in the United States wasn’t really his speed. He taught English as a second language and we moved around: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Abu Dhabi. My dad is now in Jordan; my mom is in Thailand.

Now you’re married to a globetrotting techno deejay, the legendary if mysteriously named DVS1.

TK: Yeah, he actually spends half the year in Berlin, so that gets me around a lot, traveling to Europe to see him. 

On the Public Functionary website, you quote a collector who worries about the future of brick-and-mortar museums in the digital age. Are you worried about that?

TK: The museum and gallery model is slowly becoming outdated. A white space that is untouchable is simply not relevant anymore. We live in this crazy time when we want to control and interact with everything—it’s a touch-screen society. We have to adapt.

So no white walls?

TK: Artists need walls. They need proper lighting. But those are just the basics. Every single wall in our gallery will be movable. The design of the space itself will change along with the art on the walls. That’s where culture is heading: customization. Structure plus flexibility.

Do you risk being hard to pin down?

TK: We’re on it: we’re going to name a year-long theme that all of our shows can fit under, so people will have continuous context.

The concept sounds rather freeing. Do you hope that changes how people react to the art?

TK: My hope is that it’s more a place of discovery than most galleries; that you will be surprised that you love something you see or feel confident enough to dislike it. We want to allow people to say, “Okay, maybe I hated that work.” Although, of course, hopefully they won’t.

» Public Functionary opens in late January at 1400 12th Ave. NE, in Minneapolis. Watch for details at publicfunctionary.org or at facebook.com/pfunctionary