Amid the live-streaming revolution during the Covid-19 pandemic, art curator & entrepreneur Marina Dojchinov is presenting The Zero Experiment – an interactive, virtual gallery experience. Every Thursday, viewers will be able to attend a virtual gallery opening via video conferencing platform Zoom and talk to the featured artist. The art pieces will be auctioned off and the proceeds will go to a different charity each week. This Thursday, April 16, the first artist to present his work is Pierre Fraiture and the money raised will go to Broadway Bound Kids, a performing arts education organization based in Manhattan that was affected by the virus.
We caught up with Marina about the project, her career, and life during the coronavirus.
How did you decide to start this project?
The Zero Experiment actually started last year. I wanted to create a roaming gallery concept, with a speakeasy vibe so I gathered influencers for a dinner party and showcased two amazing artists: Kenna Kendig and Udo Spreitzenbarth. The concept slowly evolved and when this epidemic hit, I wanted to find a way to keep the art community connected. Since the lockdown, many of my friends in the art world are struggling to keep afloat and don’t know where their next meal is coming from. I found a way to connect artists and keep the tradition of Thursday night openings in a fully immersive & virtual way. I added the “human touch” to an otherwise bland online experience by allowing the artists and audience to interact with each other and ask questions.
I also wanted to support charities and businesses that are losing income and struggling to stay afloat. I am encouraging the artists to choose a charity they like each week. So far I am proud to say we are helping a performing arts education organization Broadway Bound Kids and LGBTQIA homeless non-profit New Alternatives.
I love the feeling of giving back to the community and this is my way of saying–stay positive, we got this!
How and why did you decide to have Pierre Fraiture as the first artist for this Thursday?
I met Pierre six months ago at his studio in Tribeca and his work really spoke to me. I believe the charity and community aspects are a great fit for Pierre’s mission. I thought it would be a great way to introduce people to our brand and showcase the level of talent all our artists bring to the table. We want to show potential participants that no matter a crisis, art is needed in our lives.
You were born in Croatia and grew up in Australia. Tell me more about yourself.
I’ve been entrepreneurial since I was a child. Having grown up in so many different countries, my world view has constantly evolved. I started my career as a fashion editor while studying to get a double degree in Law & Journalism. My work as a fashion journalist took me all over the world–from Australia to London, Spain, and finally, New York, where I was the editor of Promo Magazine.
What inspired you to move to NYC? Is it your favorite city in the world?
New York has always been a dream of mine. I remember being 6 years old growing up in the small town of Alice Springs, in the Australian outback, having a poster of New York on my wall. I would tell anyone who would listen that I would one day live there and be a fashion editor. I made that dream come true and as soon as I touched down in New York, I knew I was home. I love the culture, the people and the fact that you can be whoever you want here. You can evolve and change and NYC embraces that. When I made the jump from fashion to art, I found I had great support from friends here, many of whom have since become like family.
Can you describe the moment when you discovered your passion for art and decided to make it your full-time job?
I’ve been enamored by art my entire life. The moment I realized I wanted to make the switch from fashion was after I curated a charity auction with multiple artists and performers. Six months later the opportunity presented itself to open a brick and mortar gallery in Manhattan. I decided to take a leap of faith and opened 3Squared Gallery in Chelsea. I curated all the shows, and the gallery was a launching pad for many artists here in the U.S. I can’t see myself doing anything else!
Since then I have guest lectured about art philosophy and turning art into a business at many universities, including at Parsons School of Design and Columbia.
I took everything I knew and put it into practice in The Zero Experiment. Combining my love for charity (I sit on the board of numerous charities here in NY), I wanted to create a community of creatives who are making a difference in the world.
What has been your biggest challenge so far living in the U.S.?
Being so far away from my family who are still in Australia. I miss my parents and my brother a lot. We try and see each other as much as possible, but often holidays are spent over FaceTime. That has been my biggest challenge so far.
We are living in a difficult time right now, how are you feeling? How has coronavirus affected you and your job personally?
Honestly, I am feeling optimistic because, at the end of the day, everything as we know it will change and better things are yet to come. This is the best time to be an entrepreneur because you can really make a difference in the world by helping the community and finding unique and innovative ways to cope with the constantly changing environment.
What are you up to during these self-isolation days? Have you found any new daily pleasures or rediscovered old hobbies?
The best part of this is having reconnected with a lot of old friends, all over the world. I am getting phone calls from people I haven’t spoken to for 2 years, just calling to say hi. We are all in this together, it has brought us closer as people.
I have also rekindled my passion for painting and I enjoy drinking coffee and playing with my two cats.
Any words of encouragement to other artists and entrepreneurs who might be struggling right now?
Create! The time is now more crucial for all of us: artists, musicians and everyone in between. It’s a new beginning so let your voices be heard! Also never give up and never take no for an answer. If you really believe in something, don’t let anyone disparage you. And finally, things will get better, so keep your chin up!
What’s your ultimate dream/goal?
To build a world empire, of course!