#ListeAsks Tony Salamé, Collector, Aïshti Foundation, Beirut

Tony Salamé, Credit: Guillaume Ziccarelli
Tony Salamé, Credit: Guillaume Ziccarelli

As you won’t be in Basel this June, what are you doing instead?
This year we went to the mountains very early, at beginning of May. It is almost like we’re on holiday, as I only go to work twice a week.

What is something that you never thought would happen but that has now happened as a result of the lockdown?
Everything is strange: The world is changing completely and our business is shifting, too. After the lockdown, our business went down by 80 percent. I also never thought we would suddenly stop taking planes for up to five months, but it is happening.

In what ways has the current state of uncertainty and unpredictability changed your attitude towards collecting? 
In the current state of things, I am taking more time, being more selective. I’m more cautious.

What is one of the most inspiring initiatives or projects by an artist, institution or gallery you’ve came across since the outbreak of Covid-19?

To be honest, for me it is all still the same. I feel some galleries are showing more works on paper—smaller, more accessible drawings—but nothing has been really outstanding. Although I do like David Zwirner’s initiative of providing a platform for other galleries in New York, London, etc., as well as Jeffrey Deitch’s idea to create Gallery Platform LA.

How can younger and less established galleries that are representing emerging and yet-to-be-discovered artists approach you as collector in a time of online-only exhibitions, fairs, etc.? 
To be honest, this is the trickiest question. In the process of discovery, we usually sit and talk with gallerists and they explain some of the emerging artists’ projects done by emerging artists. But this is now more difficult and challenging...

Have you discovered any new artist during the lockdown?
Unfortunately, I didn’t discover any new artists.

Can you tell us about the very first artwork you purchased at Liste?
We’ve bought many works at Liste over the years. The first were from the gallery Balice Hertling and they were works by Sam Falls.

Sam Falls: Untitled (Sine/Cosine, 1), 2013, Sculpture of steel and stainless steel, 244 x 33 x 28 cm, Credit: © Gallery Balice Hertling, Paris
Sam Falls: Untitled (Sine/Cosine, 1), 2013, Sculpture of steel and stainless steel, 244 x 33 x 28 cm, Credit: © Gallery Balice Hertling, Paris