Art & Culture

Ending this shameful blogular silence

Hello faithful readers,
Nearly halfway through the year it is time for me to end this shameful blogular silence with a few nice photos and a nudge to join my mailing list, since that seems to be the place where I have migrated most of my announcement-type activity to. So go sign up for my mailing list already, over here.

Another reason this blog has been neglected as a receptacle of my wit and wisdom is because this year I am planning two biennales! The first one has now launched, the Dutch Electronic Art Festival. The theme is The Power of Things, and the spectacular exhibition is still available to view until June 3. It features wonderful works by Olafur Eliasson, Philip Beesley, Jae Rhim Lee, Roman Kirschner, Frederik de Wilde, Jessica de Boer, and many more. If you can make your way to Rotterdam, I unreservedly recommend seeing it.

Notion Motion – Olafur EliassonNotion Motion – Olafur Eliasson

I am also busy preparing the next ZERO1 Biennale in San Jose, California with an international team led by Jaime Austin. Check our our artist lineup and get your flights booked to join us there in September!


2011 was…

Last year around this time, designer/researcher Michele Perras posted her Top Ten of 2010 to Twitter. I enthusiastically jumped in and posted my top 10 too — it seemed a great way to look back and celebrate the year. The list covered life events, achievements, fabulous trips, et cetera.

Top Ten of Twenty Eleven doesn’t have the same ring Top Ten of Twenty Ten had to it, plus I wanted to do something a little different than last year. It was hard to pare it down, but I thought I would try to keep it to the Top 5 of 2011 and include some photos. Here goes!

1. This year an exhibition entitled Constellations opened at Cornerhouse in Manchester UK, which I co-curated with my friend and collaborator, Karen Gaskill. The show featured works by Kitty Kraus, Katie Paterson, Takahiro Iwasaki, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and investigated themes of impermanence and flux. I know I’m biased, but I’m very proud of how beautiful and coherent the show was. Karen and I are already scheming about the next project!

Out of Disorder (hair) by Takahiro Iwasaki. Photo by We Are Tape.

Untitled by Kitty Kraus. Photo by We Are Tape.

2. I started my wonderful job as Curator at V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam and kicked off Blowup, a brand new event and exhibition series there. Over the year I delivered 5 successful editions of Blowup and the organisation’s first e-Book series (in the form of readers that accompany each Blowup event). More exciting things to come in 2012, including the Dutch Electronic Art Festival!

Blowup: The Era of Objects, with Julian Bleecker, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Anab Jain. With me doing my best Oprah Winfrey. Photo by Jan Nass.

Doing my best Vanna White. Photo by Jan Nass.

3. Travel highlights: I was an invited guest of BAM in their International Curator’s Programme and had a blast discovering Flanders; gave 4 talks in 7 days on a whirlwind and magical tour through Ukraine; visited the Venice Biennale during opening week; and enjoyed the IKT (international association of curators of contemporary art) Congress in Luxembourg and Metz. I’m really looking forward to more great trips in 2012, including going to places I’ve not yet been, like Tel Aviv.

Karla Black, Scotland + Venice

Nice to see a queue for contemporary art! Pinchuk Art Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine

4. I gave lectures in a number of places scattered around the globe, from Durham, Ontario, Canada to Lviv, Ukraine and many spots in-between (including my first Pecha Kucha here in Amsterdam to a packed house at Trouw), and I also picked up a speaking agent — Tessa Sterkenburg at The Next Speaker. Contact Tessa if you want to book me for 2012.

Dan McGee and I, in Durham, Ontario, at the Common Pulse symposium. Photo by David Jhave Johnston.

Lviv, Ukraine

5. I brought on four fabulous international correspondents to help with, commissioned a new logo by designer Rita Godlevskis, and kicked off a huge new project: the Fellowship, with CCA Glasgow.

New logo by Rita Godlevskis

New site look and feel (ideas and implementation by Mikhel Proulx)

What are your top 5 highlights from this past year?
Looking forward to what 2012 has to bring!

Art & Culture My Projects

Announcing the Fellowship

I have been running as a free resource for curators of contemporary art since 2006. It was borne out of a “why not” attitude towards sharing and openness, since I was compiling research on curating anyway. I also thought it would help me make my research more rigorous, as writing on this blog during my Master’s thesis did. A few years later and is getting fan mail and picking up a lot of attention. Today I’m able to easily recruit four fantastic interns to share the burden and we have nearly 5000 fans on Facebook. The question was what to do next with this great platform. With thousands of people paying attention, what can you do and what should you do?

I had a vague idea that I’d like to create a Scholarship, part funded by donations from the community (that I had, thus far, never directly asked for any money) and could think of several good curatorial Master’s programmes that would benefit from a scholarship in place. I went to the IKT Congress in Luxembourg this year, and in the cavernous and highly atmospheric basement of the Casino Luxembourg, ended up chatting with Sally Tallant, Head of Programmes at London’s Serpentine Gallery. Sally, who as it turned out knew and loved the site, listened as I tipsily described the nascent plan for the Scholarship. “But why not do even more?” was her response. “Make it an experience in a gallery you love and trust, something where people can get real experience. There are already loads of scholarships out there.” Immediately I saw how right she was, and changed course accordingly. My first thought was to partner with the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow, in part because it’s a great institution and a fellowship would fit with its ethos, and in part because its Director, Francis McKee, is both a visionary and a highly trustworthy person. Francis was onboard, and so it was born: the Fellowship in collaboration with the CCA in Glasgow.

The Fellowship is a chance for an individual to conduct curatorial research and produce an exhibition at the CCA. The Fellow will work at the CCA four days per week over the six month fellowship, developing a curatorial project or body of curatorial research. Fellows will be paid a flat fee of £8,000. Ideal candidates for the Fellowship are emerging or mid-career curators who can demonstrate passion and fresh thinking in curating and writing about contemporary art, and who have a vision for what the role of the curator means today.

The deadline for applications is October 21, 2011. Applications will be judged by Francis McKee, Sally Tallant, and myself.

We’re really excited about it. I hope you will spread the word, contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, and apply to be our first Fellow.

Contribute to the crowdfunding campaign here.
Apply for the Fellowship here.

Art & Culture

Lovely Flanders (Stupid, Sexy Flanders*)

[NRS] # s.p.o.r.e.s_2 by Frederik de Wilde

BAM (Flemish Institute for visual, audiovisual, and media art) is an organisation based in Ghent that “provides information, and encourages development and networking” and “encourages collaboration and exchange between Flemish organisations and institutions abroad and tries to increase the interest in and knowledge of the Flemish art scene”. Their International Visitor’s Programme is a key component of their overall activities, with several invitations extended each year to foreign art professionals. I was fortunate enough to be invited and had a bespoke programme created for me that extended over four days and four cities in Flanders this February.

For the four days, Brussels was my base and I travelled throughout the region either by car with my gracious host, Nele Samyn from BAM, or I used the extensive Belgian train system. Nele was a great guide who designed a perfect programme for me, and answered all my general questions about the cultural situation in Flanders in between the scheduled meetings.

It’s going to sound like a bit of a cop out, but there were so many things that I saw and people that I spoke with that making a big list of it would be a bit meaningless. So I’ll just single out some highlights that are easy to summarise:

In terms of commiserating with colleagues, it was a great pleasure to meet Eva De Groote at Timelab, and see what’s cooking there with their lab and their artist in residence programme. It was inspiring to visit Netwerk, a terrific and fairly large centre for contemporary art in the fairly small town of Aalst (home to fewer than 80,000 people). I greatly enjoyed dining with artist Frederik de Wilde, hearing all about his fascinating work (and getting some free Dutch lessons on the side). Going to Argos resulted in a lovely chat with Paul Willemsen, then spending a solid hour in their galleries being blown away by “Sea of Tranquillity”, a piece by Hans Op de Beeck. I had a fabulous time at the Artefact festival in Leuven, especially the opening night and a group meal with several of the artists and festival curators. I had previously seen the work of Koen Vanmechelen in Den Haag, and I was very keen to meet him. Despite busy schedules all round we managed to meet for a great discussion over coffee in Leuven. BAM makes all your wishes come true!

I walked away from my brief visit to Flanders with a head full of artworks and a pocket full of business cards, but I also departed with a new conviction: that every country should have a programme such as this. This quick and intense introduction to the art scene in Flanders was invaluable to me as a curator. I saw dozens of artworks, attended a festival, viewed many individual shows, had studio visits with several artists, and met a number of fellow curators. It was a packed four days that I could never have organised on my own. I also now feel like I have a good grip on the aspects of the Flemish art scene that are relevant to me as a curator, something that can only be accomplished due to the bespoke nature of the programme. A generic version of this programme with a one-size-fits-all approach just wouldn’t work as well. I hope that BAM continues this programme long into the future, and that other places adopt their exemplary model.

Cross-posted to
* Couldn’t resist the Simpsons joke.