FUCK YOU DEBUT CONTEMPORARY: Debut contemporary complaints Samir Ceric
A long time ago now I signed up for a 'mentoring scheme' with a gallery in Notting Hill.
Would you trust a modelling agency who got you to pay upfront with the promise of unlimited work and ultimate success? Definitely not. If it sounds to good to be true, if you are even the tiny bit suspicious and have to part with money- Don’t do it.We all know these things are scams. So why was it so different in my case?
I went to my audition with a decomposing fox in a suitcase(Fox In A Box). Pretty hardcore for a gallery in Notting Hill. My work was clearly of a confrontational nature, but amazingly that didn’t seem to matter. With a sound recorder thrust up my top and camera man recording everything that was said, I got through the rigorous audition process and instantly badgered into handing over a large deposit. Did I choose my rent or the apparent chance of a lifetime? An offer seemingly too good to turn down. I wanted to believe everything they promised…..and the deposit did say refundable….
I was broke, became too busy to take part in the scheme and reluctant to part with more money for something I felt so unsure about. I felt a good gallery would take you because they believe in you and your work- you should never have to pay to kiss arse.
The work I provided and wanted to exhibit was too hardcore, needed the right display or seen as too offensive blab la la-. They didn’t want my work- They didn’t care about my practice or representing me as an artist at all. All they wanted was money. I realized it could never work. I was not going to sacrifice my money or morals and told them it was over and took my business where it was appreciated, where they encouraged and celebrated it. No money, No problem.
Needless to say it ended badly with D/C. They refused to give me my deposit saying I owed them around the 2 grand mark. They were slippy tricky bastards and frightened me with big language, kept going on about slander and all this bullshit. They were truly horrible to me and I decided to just drop it. After all, they were a big gallery with money and power, I was just a poor artist with no hope without them.
Later on in life I started getting emails from other young artists asking how my experience was with Debut. Obviously shocking- Why were they asking?
I found after investigation I was on their website, blog, wordpress, Flikr, Facebook, every media site you could name claiming to be associated with them! They were still using my work and press (old and new), things I had acquired independently and all off my own back even after I had told them to go screw themselves! Unbelievable. I was so SO angry The adrenaline was incredible and I knew they were totally out of order so I shot right down to the gallery, laughing all the way thinking how finally unafraid of them I was, and how much I was going to give them a very frank and honest piece of my mind- Which was incredibly sharp.
And I did. In front of all the interns and hopefully the ‘recorded C.C.T.V’. I went off on one about what full on bastards they were and I was not leaving until every single trace of me connected with them was eradicated!
The gallery maid claimed to have not known anything of the dark undercurrents and only wanted to support me- By screwing me over??????
She said I was disrupting the gallery and I would have to leave. I told her I would cause her not one ounce of disturbance- and could I pull up a chair because I was not going anywhere until it had all gone.....
How dare they use me and my name to promote their business when they had caused me so much grief! How dare they promote themselves to young artists using me as an endorsement, claiming me to be one of their successes? !!!! They were totally taking me for a ride.
So I sat there for ages smiling inanely at young naive artists who had succeeded in obtaining an interview with this highly esteemed galley. They were all turned away very quickly of course. You don’t want to risk a wild card like me smiling too hard at perspective customers.
And I also wanted my refundable deposit back. Now. But it couldn’t be now. This little episode would have to be put to the board. The big men at the top that decided how much of nuisance this potentially could be. I’d all ready turned up at the gallery once- what more could I do……
To cut a hideously long story short-
I GOT MY DEPOSIT BACK-
Well over a massive year later they generously decided to give me back my money. How good of them.
Here’s how with the most recent correspondence :
On 10 Aug 2012, at 13:10, Charlie Tuesday Winner Gates wrote:
Please can I have my refundable deposit of £580 pounds back please.
My address is
Re: Refundable deposit
11 August 2012 19:30
Thank you for your email and nice to see you on Friday. As promised, just to update you that I will talk to the board next week and put forward your request that the deposit be refunded - just to clarify that the deposit was £380. Also, to mention that I have been informed that you have been involved in publicly slandering Debut Contemporary, and would kindly ask that you do not continue otherwise the board won't hesitate to take necessary actions.
Wishing you a lovely rest of the weekend and speak soon.
Charlie Tuesday Winner Gates
Thanks for getting back to me.
For some reason I had got it into my head it was £580- sorry about that.
I can say there has been 100% no slander. Slander is where you tell a lie or in common law it is that the claim be false. Slander refers to a malicious, false, and defamatory spoken statement or report, Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate only against groundless criticism....In my case there is grounds for criticism. I Have been 100% honest and will continue to be honest.
I paid a refundable deposit which has not been refunded
- The £50 slots advertised were not available to me.
- My work was deemed too confrontational to be shown even though I brought in a decomposing fox in a suitcase for the interview.
- I attended no mentoring sessions. I met with Samir once for under ten minutes. Samir was aware of my financial situation and I was unsure whether to commit fully to the scheme- I did not meet with a mentor that day, I met salesman.
- You used me and my name to advertise and promote the gallery on your websites for over a year- You had no right to use my work on your site- Considering how badly it ended I find that in itself unacceptable to put it lightly.
I really really really don't want to get into all of this again and feel it is within your interest to just refund me the measly sum of £380. I don't want to be bothering you but I might be inclined to start some sort of peaceful and unobtrusive protest if I feel that I am still being treated unfairly.
The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19. Article 19 also states that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference and everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
This is a case of £380 pounds.
On 20 Aug 2012, at 11:33, Charlie Tuesday Winner Gates wrote:
You've probably heard from the board by now.
I'm going away to Bulgaria for a week so here's my address again for that cheque of £380
Let me know when it's in the post- Otherwise I'll see you at the gallery when I get back!
Just to update you that I am discussing your proposal with the board and will revert back to you within 7 days. It is not such a quick operation as the arguments to discuss aren't in your favour. Also I must admit as someone who is very honest and neutral with the interest of artists in mind but also having worked incredibly hard as a team to offer a beneficial and personal experience for those we work with, the points you made in the previous email were difficult to agree with as I was witness to your involvement here.
The mentoring session with did not last 5 min but one hour and I witnessed that, and also we'd agreed a deferment based on the fact that you were re-joining from May. I remember discussing with you the lamb sculpture as we had intention of displaying this work however felt it first needed to be displayed in a case to add value and presentation - at that point you were in agreement of what was suggested but later decided to show the work elsewhere. You were aware of the fees and we did not make you send us the images of your work and press (which you were aware were to be used for selection of work and promotion of your practice) or turn up to the workshops - these were all things we provided for your benefit. I do remember inviting you to receive mentoring and attend the workshops however you made the decision not to be involved.
You broke the confidentiality clause of the agreement which is not helpful in the process and by continuing to spread rumours and explicitly telling people not to sign up makes the case more difficult to be resolved amicably hence we would appreciate your cooperation on the matter if you would like to resolve it to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Our legal team have a strong case arguing we are owed £1,235.01 not the other way around.
We would very much like to resolve this amicably and will do our best to reach a satisfactory solution. I do hope you have a nice time in Bulgaria in the meantime and will be in touch soon.
Following on from your correspondence with Sophia and further to my meetings with the Debut Board of Directors, it is apparent to us that you are very much in need of £380. Although we are not obliged to refund your deposit, as per previous correspondence and the given reasons, we have decided to do so as we do not wish to work with or be associated to any artists who refuse to see the value in what we do and offer and who decide to abuse our good will and our mission to support emerging and talented artists, something that has been acknowledged and endorsed by numerous art and business influencers.
Our finance department will be posting a cheque to you or arranging a bank transfer early next week. Please provide your relevant postal address and your up to date bank details so the payment can be arranged.
We wish you all the best in whatever you do in the future.
If you are still unsure who to side with check out these reputable sources:
"I have since not returned to the gallery.
I have forwarded on my emails, the contract and experience etc the tutors and people I trust in the art world and they are all pretty disgusted. You will find people that had a good experience I am sure. But I know the art world is not particularly impressed and I have been informed that news travels round fast from word of mouth as the world is pretty small. Please google Charlie Tuesday Gates and Sarah Maple who I am sure will be more than happy to share their experiences'
If you have been effected by any issues surrounding Debut Con do not hesitate to contact me at: