Patricia Dauder / Silvia Dauder ProjecteSD

Site-Specific Conversation’s collaboration with Barcelona Gallery Weekend continues with a series of conversations that will be published weekly over the summer.

Once again, the event centres on a novel this year: Just Kids, by Patti Smith. In doing so, it highlights the process of ‘growing together’ and delves into artists’ beginnings, professionalisation, coexistence with the art market’s demands, and collaboration dynamics, among other elements.

We talk to artist Patricia Dauder and gallerist Silvia Dauder, the director of ProjecteSD. As their surname suggests, they are related – sisters, specifically – and they both work together in the art sector. Their upbringing and artistic sensibility, inherited from their family, have led them to develop common interests and a mutual understanding that goes beyond the family sphere and enables them to walk their professional paths together.


I heard in a podcast, Silvia, that it was Patricia who introduced you to the world of art. Is that true?


Well, I was yet an art lover.

When I finished high school, one of my options was to study art history and biology. In the end, I stuck to biology, because I thought I was perhaps overestimating my capabilities. But art, the idea of art, was something I couldn’t do without.

Visiting contemporary art galleries, fairs, etc. did come along unintentionally, as Patricia, my sister, was an artist before I’d even contemplated running a gallery. She was working with a gallery in Barcelona, Antonio de Barnola, and as she was away at a residency in the Netherlands at the time, I sort of acted as the link between her and the gallery. On some occasions, I even had to send things to her gallerist. So, it was through her that I started to go to a gallery in a more anonymous way, not so much as a visitor of exhibitions.

I started to see what a gallery was like on the inside. The first gallery I knew might have had its idiosyncrasies at that time, but in tribute to Antonio Barnola – lost too early – I want to point out that in that period, in the nineties, he was a leading gallerist in the city and his programme was really well thought out, in terms of risk and dedication to art.

Patricia was at Hangar, too, and I went there. We had interests in common.

If I hadn’t been receptive to art, none of that would have happened. Don’t you think, Patricia?


Yes, those are the facts. But I remember going to see exhibitions with Silvia on many occasions when I was little. One of the first was at Palau de la Virreina. It was Nonell. I’m talking 1981s, here. So, before it became a career, both of us were interested in art.

Does this interest in art come from your family?


We grew up in a family with artistic sensibility. There was no culture of art, but there was a sensibility, in both our parents and our uncles, who are the family circle who brought us up. Our upbringing encouraged us to have this artistic sensibility. There was one uncle who started out in the field of art, shall we say, but then he moved on to other areas more associated with photography and design. There was a sensibility for details.

My mother has always been a very sensitive person with quite an excessive taste for aesthetics. She’s a woman who’s enjoyed sewing, who’s designed dresses, who has something in her DNA that perhaps she passed on to us. Then there was my father: a hard worker.

I think I like art thanks to my father and my history teacher at school, because she was a great teacher. She taught us really well. She made us illustrate things with postcards or pictures, wherever we could find them. So, every Saturday, my father… Every Saturday, he took me out – and I’m talking about when I was nine, ten, eleven – to a shop on Plaça del Pi to buy me postcards on the topics I was looking at in my history book. That’s where I started to see prints of Tizianos, etc.

Anyway, at the very least, they made sure our artistic interests, if they emerged, didn’t fall apart.

Patricia, when your sister started to become more and more connected with the gallery world, did you encourage her to open her own?


No, I didn’t encourage her. Of course, there were some conversations, but it wasn’t an overnight thing.

I mean, before having the idea to open a gallery, she thought she might work in the art world in institutions or other galleries that already existed. Slowly, Silvia entered this field and saw how galleries and institutions worked.

At a specific point, she decided that it would be best to open her own space based on her own ideas, on what she believed, with her personality. And, obviously, that was a risk, because she had no direct prior experience. It was a gradual transition.

Isn’t that right, Silvia?



Sometimes, things in life come about for a lot of reasons, and I was going through a bit of a worn-out period, professionally speaking.

I was 42 when I opened the gallery. I wasn’t a “sweet, fun young thing”: I knew what work was. I knew the difficulties and benefits that lay in being in a business. But I was very aware that I had zero experience in the art world.

I was tired and wanted to make a career change, because I was too young not to be enjoying my work. I knew I had a lot of years of work ahead of me, and I couldn’t dedicate myself to leading a contemplative, rich, full life without working and earning money, or at least the money I needed to live.

My initial idea wasn’t to open a gallery. My initial idea was: how do I get into this field? And the first thing I did was to ask for work from galleries. Of course, I didn’t look much like an intern. I could see, clear as crystal, that I couldn’t get anything out of it, that gallery structures are small, or at least in Barcelona. If this had happened in New York, maybe I’d be working at the Gagosian.

I’m a risk taker and really brave, but I keep my feet on the ground. The idea of turning up to any institution to ask for work without any kind of CV that could vouch for me in any way… I knew it was pointless.

I also thought, in my ignorance, with the little knowledge I had at the time, that if I did it all myself, I would be freer to do what I wanted.

And I don’t think I was wrong about that. With the art world as it is today, working at certain institutions can be like slavery.

What do you think your gallery contributed at that time?


I think its contribution was gradual. It didn’t contribute anything at the beginning: no one knew me, so no one paid any attention to me.

Actually, the press did come straight away. I remember we opened with an exhibition called 140 Drawings, so I was labelled as a gallery specialising in drawings, which is not a bad thing but, well, I had no idea what my gallery would end up being.

I think I contributed the fact I came from another field, so I hadn’t brought along any bad habits acquired or learnt at other galleries.

I also didn’t start with a programme of artists from the nearest, most direct local scene. I was clear on that from the beginning, because it’s in my DNA: I mean, I’ve lived abroad, I’ve studied abroad, I’ve been able to speak English for many years. I communicate really well with people from elsewhere, and I didn’t want to be the gallery that just shows work from the local scene here in Barcelona. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s not what I wanted.

With all that in mind, the first solo exhibition came in 2003, with Jochen Lempert, who might as well have been seen as an alien.

I think I contributed this tendency to make decisions based on artistic stances that were somewhat unexpected at that time in the city.

Not all of the artists came along suddenly, and not all of them were unknown. Some of the most established artists I worked with – Hans-Peter Feldmann, for example – had been very present institucional career in the city, and that was one of the reasons, why I decided to work with them. But no gallery in Spain had taken in interest in their work yet.

I think it’s a very quiet, very thorough way of doing things that is very different to what is normally done. And I think I’m still the same today.

Patricia, what’s different about working with family – your sister – compared to with other galleries?


It’s important to say that I’ve mainly worked with Silvia. I mean, it’s true that I started working with Antonio Barnola. We worked together for four years, until I decided to leave the gallery. I went two or three years without a gallery, until Silvia opened hers. Since then, I’ve had very sporadic contact with galleries, mainly abroad.

Barnola was a man who loved art, and he didn’t mind taking a risk at all. If he liked what you were doing, he’d give you his space really easily. That’s not common at all, and it was even less so at that time. But he also had some difficulties, especially when it came to logistics.

Apart from this experience with Antonio, I have experience with Silvia. Obviously, she’s my sister, and working with family brings with it a series of peculiarities, but it’s difficult to find people as thorough and professional as she is. And that’s not a subjective opinion; it’s objective.

My relationship with her in this sense is excellent: you know you can trust her fully, and if something doesn’t work, it’s not because she hasn’t dedicated hours of her time to it or she hasn’t done everything she can to make it work.

Unfortunately, I know that’s not so common in many galleries. Sometimes I think I’ve got used to this being the pattern, and perhaps it’s not the most usual pattern.

Apart from that, of course, there’s a level of familiarity and honesty that means we can talk about things easily and directly. We know each other quite well. There are things that don’t even need to be said, sometimes. We understand each other easily. There’s a common sensibility when it comes to certain things. Even though her preferences are not always the same as mine. There’s a shared sensibility – as she said before, in our family – and I think that’s something that has been transferred over to the gallery. Apart from the names and the programme, the care is there.

In connection with just that, many artists have a really close relationship with the gallery, to such an extent that they have a say in the choice of artists or in the direction the gallery takes. You could say they act as advisers to the gallery. As you know each other so well and trust each other, has this relationship emerged?


There are conversations sometimes, but not this kind. I don’t have any artists advising me, or any advisers at all. It’s not that I don’t want any, but running a gallery like mine is so tough that I need more than an adviser. If someone wants to get involved with programme decisions, they need to be on the front line, like me.

Patricia is tired of saying she’s not an influence on me in terms of making decisions. If someone wants to come and show me their work, they need to come straight to me, because that’s the appropriate way of doing things. She’s a bit sick of people coming to me indirectly through her.

I run the project on my own, and that’s not something I say out of pride: it’s just the reality. And it’s a big struggle. Now, when you decide to work with an artist in the art world – which is so difficult, strange, biased right now – liking their work is not enough. Many other things need to happen, too, and an artist advising you won’t be aware of everything involved.


The fact that Silvia has no artistic training might make you think I’ve been involved in some way, but that’s never been the case.

On top of that, I think precisely her lack of artistic training gives the gallery a certain character. She’s never needed advice from anyone. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t talk, but very sporadically.

Really, the programme is the product of what Silvia thinks is right.


Well, with some good moves, and others not so good, of course. I’m not saying I’m doing it all perfectly on my own and I’m Superwoman.

I do have conversations with a lot of artists. We talk about things and they are very enriching conversations, but everyone knows there’s never been an artist designing a programme at my gallery, for example. I do my own thing, more or less.

We’d like you to tell us about the exhibitions you have worked on together and the one you are presenting for Barcelona Gallery Weekend.


We exhibited some of her drawings from 1998-1999 at the opening exhibition, 140 Drawings, which involved Kai Takeda, Gustavo Marrone, Chuso Ordi and Patricia, with different interpretations of what drawing was. We must have done now around seven or eight solo exhibitions.

As usual with Patricia and all the artists, there is carte blanche for them to do whatever they think needs to be done. The gallery provides support and public visibility for the work the artist is doing at that moment.

That’s more or less what Patricia and I have been doing. The work has evolved over time. For example, I remember the first exhibition – I think it was called M, Patricia – where there was that wonderful curtain of chiken coop fence, full of pieces of clay. It was almost a site-specific installation, because it was practically modelled within the gallery space. She’s gone through a lot of different periods, different projects. The most recent exhibition was in 2019, if I’m not mistaken.


It was called Hollow.


Yes! There were drawings, sculptures…

Patricia put on an exhibition at Palau de la Virreina in 2021 and she’s constantly been producing things that haven’t been shown in the gallery.

In the exhibition coming up now, called Interiors, new pieces will be displayed. There might be the odd exception, but in any case, they are all pieces that have never been seen before at the gallery, or anywhere.

I’ll hand over to Patricia here, so that she can talk about the new exhibition a bit.


Sure. It’s an exhibition I’ve called Interiors, because it refers to the concept of interior and exterior, to the violence between the private sphere and what’s outside.

In fact, this is a constant in my work. But I realised that, lately, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the interiors of homes. In some way, all the pieces refer to how one perceives spaces within an interior. There’s a series of sculpture pieces that will have no reference point; no reference will be made to anything architectural. Instead, they will make reference to subjective matters of experiencing a space through the body or through sensations. In some cases, I’m going back and remembering how I moved around a space when I was little, at home. The goal I set myself was for the pieces to emerge gradually, organically, for one piece to lead me to another, and this one to another… It’s all mostly taken shape now.

There are sculpture pieces and certain materials that could be seen as unusual. Actually, they are pieces about spaces that don’t exist. These pieces are related to things I made a long time ago, in the early 2000s. It’s a way of working on cyclical things, with motifs that were at the centre of things twenty years ago. The idea of structures that are suspended, the theme of falling… They are quite vague sensations, but I’m trying to transfer them to something real.

What I had in mind was to try to take more of a forward step with some sculptures and work out how I can transfer something hanging in the air or rising up into three dimensions. I know it’s all very vague, but that’s the long and short of it.

On top of that, with this idea of interiors, I initially wondered whether or not I should use the word ‘home’ in the exhibition title, but afterwards I decided against it, because I think ‘interior’ can refer to many different things, not just a home: the interior of the experiences one has at home, for example. This intimate contact with the living space, with the home. Memories of when you’re little and it’s like they don’t use the real parameters we move in. There will also be two-dimensional pieces and drawings.

There’s a more emotional aspect, right? About the space, memories…


Yes, it’s about what’s left, with traces, with marks. In fact, it’s an emotional thing. There’s a significant subjective component, but it’s also heavily based, as always, on observations. Some of the materials I’m working with are recycled from the street or people’s belongings I bought from them at markets.

What I really like doing is walking around the city. I don’t do it every day, nowhere near that, but even if it’s just now and again. On the journey home from the workshop I observe a lot of things: homes, interiors, traces, how people live, windows… And I imagine what’s happening.

Last year, I also worked on a project in a school. And the project was about trying to imagine life in an interior based on the materials left, on the remains of homes that had been knocked down.

Occasionally, my work has been linked to landscapes, but it’s not really that, in this case.

Perhaps it’s a form of nostalgia?


My workshop’s in Poblenou, which is a neighbourhood that has transformed radically in a short space of time. A lot of old houses are being knocked down, and new buildings are constantly going up.

And one of the things that has always surprised me about Barcelona is this constant tendency to destroy, to knock down what is no longer deemed to be of use, without any shame, without any consideration. Just knock down what’s old and build something new.

That in particular makes me quite sad sometimes. And I would say it generates a slightly nostalgic atmosphere or tone.

We’d like to finish with the question we’re asking everyone in this series: what do you think makes relationships between artists and gallerists last?


Trust, I suppose.


Respect. I think that, just like with human relationships, it’s a little more complicated than that.

There needs to be love and respect, above all. And both parties need to be very serious about the work they each do. And when there are issues, they need to talk and try to solve them. Sometimes, that’s not possible. Sometimes, a gallerist can go on for years and years with some artists and not with others, because not all of it is in the gallerist’s hands and not all of it is in the artist’s hands.


I think it’s also really important to work with someone you really get on with. Someone who understands your work beyond commercial, project and trend considerations.

If there’s no in-depth understanding of what you’re doing, it’s a bit like having a franchise… Our work – both artists’ and gallerists’ – is not easy, which is why there needs to be a mutual understanding.

Barcelona Gallery Weekend (BGW ) seeks to reinforce and make visible the rich and varied artistic scene of Barcelona, promote art collecting and highlight the work of the galleries, as culture generating spaces open to citizens, and the artists they represent. From 14th to 17th September 2023, BGW celebrate your 9th edition in 32 galleries, presenting the work of more than 60 artists.