Curating Fast and Slow | Changing Times, Changing Tempos?
Exhibition-making can take place at myriad different tempos and contexts. Larger-scale museum exhibitions can take years to research and realise whilst other approaches to curating thrive on faster turnaround and a more ‘magazine’ format. Biennials by their very nature take place over a cycle of two years, whilst Skulptur Projekte Münster has a ten year cycle. Some exhibitions are put together at phenomenal pace – sometimes through necessity, for instance if a show suddenly falls through or an opportunity opens. How does the duration and gestation of a project affect its realisation?
It often feels as if the art world is working at an intense speed, responding to changing perspectives and situations. In light of the impact of Covid-19 and ongoing lockdowns our tempos have been forced to change; have and should our approaches to curating change as well? And if so how?
This discussion will look at examples and models of curating over the short and long term. To what extent does the museum or the context determine the time involved in putting a show together? How does the pace of a project impact on the artists and curators? Does this change the dialogue with audiences, and if so in what way?
Join us online to hear our panel of international curators who have each worked in innovative ways with variously paced projects. Independent curator and writer Fatoş Üstek led fig-2, a series of 50 exhibitions that were curated over 50 weeks at the ICA Studio. As co-Director of Artangel since 1991, James Lingwood has worked on 125 projects over 25 years that push the boundaries of curating and artist collaborations. Megan Arney Johnston has been exploring the concept of ‘slow curating’ since 2009, through her critical writing and socially engaged arts practice, which connect communities and encourages inclusivity. She describes this as ‘a framework that embraces methods to facilitate deep connections to community, locality, and reciprocal relationships (between people and between art/objects and audiences) and evolves over time’; Britta Peters has curated numerous international exhibitions including Sculpture Projects Münster 2017, a public sculpture initiative that began in 1977, running only once every decade, that investigates the relationship between sculpture, place, the global present and the public realm. The panel is chaired by Richard Parry, Director of Glasgow International, Scotland’s Biennial festival of contemporary art, formerly curator at the Grundy Art Gallery Blackpool.
This online event is convened by Richard Parry and Jennifer Powell in association with the Museums and Galleries Committee of the Association for Art History.
Dr. Megan Arney Johnston is an independent curator, museum specialist, and educator who uses socially engaged curatorial practices centered in fundamental questions about art and its display and mediation. Arney Johnston is a noted specialist in social engagement, having coined the phrase “slow curating” in 2011. She has a PhD in Museology and Curatorial Practice from the University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has worked with institutions in Europe and the United States, where she has produced more than 340 exhibitions over her 25-year career. She has written dozens of exhibition catalogue essays and articles for exhibition publications and academic journals in addition to presenting on social practice and radical museology at numerous national and international conferences. Find out more at slowcurating.com.
James Lingwood has been Co-Director of Artangel with Michael Morris since 1991. Amongst almost 150 Artangel projects produced over the past 30 years are Rachel Whiteread’s House (1993-94), Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 4 (1995), Ilya & Emilia Kabakov’s The Palace of Projects (1999), Michael Landy’s Break Down (2001), Jeremy Deller’s The Battle of Orgreave (2001), Francis Alÿs’s Seven Walks (2005), Roni Horn’s Library of Water in Iceland (2007-ongoing) Roger Hiorns’ Seizure (2008-9), Susan Philipsz’s Surround Me (2010), Heiner Goebbels’ Stifter’s Dinge (2010-12), Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead in Detroit (2010-ongoing) Ryoji Ikeda’s spectra (2014), INSIDE: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison (2016), Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss (2018), Elizabeth Price’s SLOW DANS (2019) and Steve McQueen’s Year 3 project across London (2019-20), together with Tate and A New Direction.
Lingwood has curated exhibitions in museums around the world including surveys of the work of Vija Celmins, Douglas Gordon, Susan Hiller, Juan Muñoz, Robert Smithson, Thomas Struth and Thomas Schütte. Recent exhibitions include Richard Hamilton – Serial Obsessions for the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea,(2017-18); and Luigi Ghirri –The Map and The Territory; Photographs from the 1970s for Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Folkwang Museum, Essen and Jeu de Paume, Paris (2018-20).
Richard Parry has been the Director of Glasgow International since 2017, overseeing the 2018 and 2020 (2021) festival programmes. Prior to this he was Curator-Director of the Grundy Art Gallery Blackpool where he curated and organised upwards of 30 exhibitions, including solo exhibitions by Mark Leckey, Heather Phillipson, Matt Stokes and Jennet Thomas, as well as the group exhibitions ‘Sensory Systems’ and ‘Neon: The Charged Line’.
Previously to joining the Grundy, Parry was Assistant Curator at the Hayward Gallery, where he organised exhibitions including ‘Psycho Buildings’, ‘The New Décor’, ‘Walking in my Mind’ and ‘Wide Open School’, where the gallery was turned into a giant ‘school’ involving 100 artists from around the world. Prior to the Hayward he worked as Exhibitions and Collections Assistant at the Visual Arts Department of the British Council. Parry is also a critic and writer and has previously written for art magazines including Frieze, Art Review and Modern Painters amongst others.
Britta Peters works as an art critic and freelance curator. She has held various teaching positions including at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg, and at the Kunstakademie Münster. In January 2015 she was appointed as curator for the Skulptur Projekte 2017, together with Kasper König as Artistic Director and Marianne Wagner from the LWL Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster. Since January 2018 Peters has been Artistic Director of Urbane Künste Ruhr, an institution for art in public space in the former industrial part of Germany known as the Ruhr area. Previous projects include the Wilhelmsburger Freitag, an art project in the public realm in Hamburg (2007); artistic direction of the Kunstverein Hamburger Bahnhof (2008 – 2011); Demonstrationen. Vom Werden normativer Ordnungen at the Frankfurt Kunstverein, in collaboration with Frankfurt’s Goethe-Universität (2012) and the exhibition project Illness as Metaphor: Madness in the Garden of the Species, initiated by Peters at various sites in Hamburg (2014).
Dr. Jennifer Powell is Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and a Lecturer in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge. She was previously Head of Collection, Programme and Research at Kettle’s Yard (2013-March 2021) where she curated the exhibitions and edited accompanying books on artists such as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Anthea Hamilton, Antony Gormley and Richard Pousette-Dart. Her academic research specialism focuses on 19th and 20th century British sculpture, exhibitions practices and anglo-french exchanges from 1945-1965 (the subject of her PhD). She has held positions at the V&A as a curator and researcher on the project Mapping Sculpture 1850-1950, and as Assistant Curator Modern British Art at Tate Britain. At Tate, Jennifer worked on exhibitions and displays including Barry Flanagan Early Works and Schwitters in Britain, Naum Gabo – Prototypes for Sculpture and curated the Henry Moore galleries. She has contributed essays to many exhibition catalogues and articles to peer-reviewed journals such as the Sculpture Journal and Tate’s Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity research project.
Fatoş Üstek is an independent curator and writer, based in London. She was Director of Liverpool Biennial. She acted as a jury member for Turner Prize Bursaries 2020, Arts Foundation Futures Award 2021, Scotland in Venice 2022, Dutch Pavilion 2022, and as an external member of the acquisitions committee for the Arts Council Collection(2018-2020). She is the curator of Do Ho Suh’s largest UK commission (2018-2020) co-commissioned by Art Night and Sculpture in the City. She was formerly Director and Chief Curator of DRAF (David Roberts Art Foundation), curated miart Talks 2018; Art Night, East London, 2017 and fig-2 50 exhibitions in 50 weeks, ICA, 2015. She acted as Associate Curator for the 10th Gwangju Biennale, 2014. Ustek is a contributing editor to Extra Extra Magazine, a founding member of the Association of Women in the Arts(AWITA); trustee of Art Night; board member of Urbane Kunste Ruhr; advisory panel for Jan van Eyck Academie; member of the International Association of Art Critics AICA UK,; and an ICI Alumni. Recently, Ustek delivered keynote lectures at London City Hall, Tate Modern, De Montfort University and presented papers in conferences held in the UK, Europe, and South America. She guest lectures and publishes regularly for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programs, exhibition catalogues and art magazines, and was the co-founding Editor of Nowiswere (2008-12).
Image: Oreet Ashery, Passing through Metal, sonic performance 2018. Passing through Metal was originally commissioned by Lilith Performance Studio, Malmo, 2017. 2018 performance was part of fig-futures, Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge. Courtesy the artist and Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge. Photographer: Josh Murfitt.