notes from a meeting – on commissioning and reconfiguring risk [day one pt 2]

Hans Ulrich Obrist/Edgeware Road Project London Photo G Mannes-Abbott

CLICK on image to link to SAF & more images or read on below…

Day One unfolded in celebration of a range of curatorial and cultural risks taken [actual and potential], from large European and North American institutions through more wide-ranging, smaller and artist-led institutional initiatives to a single artist’s practice.

Judith Greer from the SAF gave a bold preface about the events that led to the removal of a piece of work from the Biennial last year swiftly followed by the removal of its Director Jack Persekian. It was a welcome account of what she described as “an extremely difficult time for us” which caused much reflection about “how institutions work with audiences” -a theme extrapolated in this panel. She spoke of relationships between commissioning and context; the various bonds of trust involved in working with artists and artists working in and implicitly or potentially with existing communities. A brave and honest note, I thought, which ended with committed optimism.

Eungie Joo from the New Museum, Hans Ulrich Obrist from the Serpentine Gallery, Beatrix Ruf from Künsthalle Zurich and Susanne Pfeffer from the KW Institute in Berlin then spoke in variously animated ways about the same issues from a strictly curatorial perspective. Joo began with two sharp questions; “who is speaking and how do we determine who our audience should be?” Then, “how can institutions share new models of discursivity with the public?” She ran through examples from the New Museum’s recent history right up to ‘Ungovernables’, the ongoing Triennial.

Hans Ulrich Obrist spoke warmly of Sharjah Biennial as “a great example; slowing it down, where many things are commissioned” which, he added, was “interesting in a context of acceleration all around the world.” He spoke urgently about two pet projects, the Centre for Unrealised Ideas and the Centre for Possible Studies [housing the Edgeware Road Project] both of which work to facilitate artists in pursuit of their “dreams” [“I do still believe in miracles!”] as well as to engage even the Serpentine’s close social context in ongoing, long term, even unlimited projects.

Beatrix Ruff described trust as the key element in her work with artists [“no contracts”], long term visions, and the Kunsthalle’s deliberate lack of a permanent collection which means that the institution “deliberately opens itself up to the forms and presentation of the art by artists.” Susanne Pfeffer talked through projects which articulated these kinds of ideas too, including the ‘failure’ of an ambitious project that involved literally tearing down a wall shared with the Institute’s neighbours.

She showed us a project by Cyprien Gaillard [The Recovery of Discovery] in which, co-opting a European colonial approach to monument, he created a blue pyramid of imported Turkish beer boxes. Then she showed how “generous” the project had been, after visitors had drunk the work…

Common terms ran throughout each presentation and make for an interesting potential non-manifesto; future, incomplete works, making ruins, using works, trust, very accessible, new audiences, longer term, ongoing, running on…

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “notes from a meeting – on commissioning and reconfiguring risk [day one pt 2]

  1. store…

    […]notes from a meeting – on commissioning and reconfiguring risk [day one pt 2] « notes from a fruit store[…]…

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