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Meet Suranga De Silva of DEMOblank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Suranga De Silva.

Suranga, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I had to the idea for DEMOblank in late January, I was living in Brooklyn and was getting ready to move back to LA in a few days. I was out with friends one night and around 3 am I kind of had a light bulb moment. Which was to create a space for my friends and any emerging artists to show work, and just give them an opportunity to exhibit and hopefully provide them with something that could grow their career.

I got back to LA a few days after having this idea and called up a bunch of my friends from the area and they all were down to help out. It also really helped that we all have such diverse backgrounds, it made putting together DEMOblank much easier and more streamlined. We all come from different artistic backgrounds and careers which really came into play when we were getting organized. It really laid the groundwork for us to have our first opening and the ones we’ve had since then.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
DEMOblank is an interesting experience. Our team is constantly learning, every day we’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t. We’ve definitely hit some road bumps, but overall I’d say we’re moving at a pretty good pace for a relatively new space.

When we first came together to form the collective we decided to have a Kickstarter to raise money for our first exhibition. During that month when we were campaigning to raise those funds, I remember there being a lot of hectic moments and conversations about if we’d hit our goal and what we would do if we didn’t reach it. But, in the end, we did and that was awesome because we got the chance to do what we said we would which was help all these emerging artists fly out here for our first exhibition, The Debut, and we were able to give them a space and provide them with the materials they needed to make the work which was kick ass.

DEMOblank – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
So our goal has always been to put artists first. We help emerging artists of all practices; visual artists, dancers, filmmakers, you name it we’re down to work with them. What we do is provide them with a location to show their stuff and we do our best to help promote them, the show, their artwork, and try to facilitate collaborations between artists and potential clients such as art collectors or businesses. Basically always trying to help them get to that next level of their career.

You know we’re a pretty new gallery, venue, company, whatever you want to call us but in the short time we’ve been active I’ve been really excited about the shows and events we’ve done. I’m stoked that in the 2 months since our first exhibition we’ve been able to host other young curators and artists and give them the opportunity to put up their work somewhere. We also just recently had a really cool dance show which ran for 2 nights, which was amazing to see. I’m also super impressed with the team of people I get to work with on a regular basis.

DEMOblank is really just me and a lot of my friends from high school. We all grew up here in LA and moved around and floated in and out of here, but the timing just worked out and we were all here and ready to do this. It’s nice since we’re all artists ourselves we have an idea of how hard it can be to get your work out there and find people who want to support it. We come from all different backgrounds such as industrial design, stage managing, visual arts etc. so we know the challenges the accompany a variety of different projects, and I’m happy to say that we’ve got a great team that’s always prepared to and has the experience to meet those challenges.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Hmm, that’s a tough one, maybe it’s too early to even say since DEMO’s still pretty new.

But, if I had to say it would probably be the night of The Debut, our first exhibition. That was just a crazy event to put together and required so much coordinating haha. For that one we had 10 artists showing work, and only two of them are based in LA the other eight live on various parts of the East Coast. Despite that, I somehow managed to wrangle them and the whole DEMO team and pulled off that show.

It was pretty crazy since almost everyone was doing some type of installation and all the artists were getting here during different parts of the week leading up to the opening.

Some of them even got here the day before and had less than a day to set up crazy big installations. But they did it and the opening was a success, way more successful than any of us had anticipated, we really just didn’t know what to expect, we’d been working on The Debut for almost two months but even a few hours before the opening we weren’t sure what our turnout was gonna be like. And then it just blew our expectations out of the water, which was so dope.

All the artists brought/made amazing work and they were recognized for it, it was such a good feeling to see people going back and forth between rooms to check out pieces over and over and then it was one of those things where someone’s friend would walk up and immediately be dragged into an installation by a friend saying “you’ve gotta check this out”, that was awesome. We had a lot of fun.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Niichi Hayashi, Alex Fukuda, Photo by Suranga De Silva, Photo by Niichi Hayashi

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