Meet: Victoria Iungerich
Central Saint Martins (CSM) graduate Victoria Iungerich has recently developed an augmented reality (AR) gallery app, Mokosh AR Gallery, to allow emerging artists to exhibit anywhere.
The project started in 2015 when Victoria launched Arts Aggregate, a non-profit which supports and promotes emerging artists and art professionals at the beginning of their careers. This grew to include a nomadic gallery, Mokosh Gallery, and in 2021 Victoria developed the AR gallery app, the “ultimate nomad gallery”.
Victoria graduated with Master of Business Administration (MBA) at CSM in 2021.
In her own artistic practice, Victoria often uses materials and techniques strongly associated with feminine crafts and occupations, which are tied to her experience growing up in Ukraine. Her work has been exhibited in San Diego, Los Angeles, London, and Edmonton, Canada.
Victoria recently spoke to us about her time on the MBA and how it has helped both her practice and the Mokosh AR Gallery app.
You’ve recently graduated with an MBA from CSM. What was your experience like?
In my early life, I could never imagine having such an opportunity. This MBA facilitated my growth and creativity from a business perspective. It was great for my professional experience. Particularly our project on researching and building a business case for Crisis. I was able to use this project for my portfolio - it is a great case study that I can use to show off my new skills. Completing this programme gave me more confidence in myself and my abilities and pushed me to take more risks to pursue my entrepreneurial ideas. I learned new approaches to project management, business development, and leadership which opened up even more opportunities for my career. I made many new friends and expanded my network; I’ve stayed in touch with and built new connections with many very interesting people who’ve contributed to the development of this programme. This MBA was a fruitful and fulfilling experience.
Why did you choose the course?
I saw joining this programme as the opportunity to evolve my project management and leadership skills to continue my work in fine arts and to pursue my entrepreneurial ideas.
After graduating from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in 2015, I founded Arts Aggregate an artist collective formed to support emerging artists at the start of their career to showcase their work. I was working closely with Audrey Mayer, my now co-founder, to organise shows and exhibits around California as means to keep my art practice going and share this motivation with others who struggle to break into the art world.
At the same time, I was pursuing my own career as a full-time artist. But I needed practical skills to continue growing Arts Aggregate as well as my art business.
What was your background before starting at CSM?
I was born in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine and grew up in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the region that is now known as Transdnistria. In 1992 my family and myself were caught in the middle of a civil war in that region. The civil war and the fact that this republic remains unrecognised until this day means that we had very few opportunities. It felt hopeless. Looking back, I realised that to build the better life and career I felt I could have, I had to take enormous risks. And quite often, I did not have the luxury of time or resources to fully evaluate all the possible consequences. However, I am grateful for the wisdom I possessed that aided me throughout my journey during those times.
Eventually, I got accepted to UCSD where I spent 4 years studying chemistry and computer science. However, after going through a long period of depression, I decided to take an art class. Two weeks into this 2D design course and after the completion of my first ink drawing, I switched my major to visual arts which eventually led me to this programme!
In 2016 you launched a nomad gallery called Mokosh. What was your inspiration behind this?
Mokosh Gallery was founded as a part of Arts Aggregate. We were organising shows in any space that we could find - a filming location, fashion studio, backyard of our houses, artist studios, etc. As ways to advertise our events, we needed to announce a location where people can come to. Because we did not have a permanent gallery space, I came up with the idea of establishing a nomad gallery - Mokosh. All we needed now was the sign with the gallery name on it that we could bring it anywhere.
And you’ve now developed an augmented reality (AR) gallery, Mokosh AR Gallery app. Can you tell us more about this?
After the start of the pandemic and all the restrictions that followed, it became harder than ever for emerging artists to show their work. And participating in the exhibits, having open studios, inviting people to physically see the work is a traditional way to sell the work.
While COVID affected everyone in the art community, I believe it was slightly easier for established artists, as many collectors have already been familiar with their work and thus established artists rely less on the exhibitions to sell their work, and more on the dealers and the galleries they are signed with to make the sales.
Having established some networks in the developers’ community in London, I was exposed to new trends in digital start-ups. That is where I saw the opportunity to pivot the work of Arts Aggregate into the digital space and to transform Mokosh Gallery into an ultimate nomad gallery.
How can people get involved?
Currently, I am the sole founder and developer of Mokosh AR Gallery. I am looking for early adopters who would be interested in helping me improve the app. Just registering interest would be helpful if we need to raise money.
I can work with some artists now to help them set up their own AR galleries or add them to the app. To do this I am also looking for artists who would like to have their work featured in Mokosh Simple Gallery as well as participate in occasional surveys and interviews to help me improve the app and the experience as a whole.
However, I am also looking for tech co-founders who would take on the development of an app on Unity and build the platform with Django. While I can code, it is not my strength. And it is challenging to manage my time between the coding, business development and marketing of Mokosh AR Gallery while still working and sustaining my life outside this project. Don’t get me wrong - I love working on this project. I am excited about this; I simply wish to make it available to as many users as possible as soon as possible!
What are your plans for the future of Mokosh?
My immediate plans are to upgrade the current version of Mokosh AR Gallery so that artists (or any user really) can create their own curated AR experiences and share them with several people who can interact with these experiences. While I am working on this upgrade, I am also learning how to use Django to set up a platform where artists can sign up, set up their profiles and create a marketplace.
I work closely with the founder of Diverium who has been mentoring me in coding in Unity - the platform I am using to create the AR experiences. We are using some of the same data structure technology Diverium pioneered. The Diverium app is already useful to artists who want to add videos or information to their art that appears in AR. I will be adding some of this to Mokosh AR Gallery as well to helping to create guided AR tours and help artists document their work.
After that, the next step will be to open the platform for the collectors and have them begin using it to match the artists and curators and facilitate the sales of artwork with the Mokosh AR experiences being an integral part of experiencing the work in augmented reality.