Category Archives: Conversation

“ART IS AN AMAZING WAY TO DEAL WITH LIFE”

– Interview with Tessa Praun (Sweden)

When did you start curating? Tell us something about your educational background and curatorial experience?

Curator Tessa Praun with Ai Wei Wei at his ateljé in 2010/ Photo by Magasin 3

 I started curating for real on my current job, the private art foundation Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall. My background is in the Humanities Study Program and Art History at Stockholm University. I did my final internship at IASPIS (International Artists Studio Program in Sweden), an artist in residency program that really got me interested in contemporary art. From there I moved on to shorter experiences at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and as assistant curator at Kunstverein München, amongst others. In 2004 I started as assistant curator at Magasin 3 and became curator two years later. Since then I have curated exhibitions with artists such as Miroslav Tichy, Christian Boltanski, Annika von Hausswolff, Marijke van Warmerdam, Ai Weiwei, etc. and have done collaborative projects with other art institutions in Europe and been working with Magasin 3:s own collection.

What is your personal relationship with Ai Wei Wei and his work? How did it come about that you got to curate his show at Magasin 3?

I was very taken by Ai Weiwei’s project “Fairytale” that he did for Documenta XII, this impressive idea to invite 1001 Chinese people to come with him to Kassel in Germany in the summer of 2007. It is a fantastic social multi layered project that lives on through stories that are being told as well as through physical remaining parts with an amazing visual strength. Experiencing this work in Kassel made me read more about Ai Weiwei and follow the work he did after.

In 2010 I was in China and had the chance to visit Ai Weiwei in his combined home and studio in Beijing. This was in a time when he was already very pressed by the Chinese authorities and he had just been under a three days house arrest when we met. Meeting him in his own environment and under these pressing circumstances effected me strongly and coming back to Stockholm I invited him to have the exhibition here at Magasin 3 this spring.

Fairytale (dormitory) by Ai Wei Wei 

Tell us more about the Ai Wei Wei exhibition. What has been your main role as a curator of the show?

From the beginning I knew that I did not want to make a retrospective exhibition, instead I wanted a selection of works that focuses on China as synonymous to mass production and Ai Weiwei’s concern for the individual as a necessary part of the big mass. Ai Weiwei did the first selection of works that he and I then discussed and added to. Only a few months into working together, in the beginning of April 2011, he suddenly was arrested and kept detained on no legal grounds in an undisclosed location. Not knowing what was going to happen, if and when he would be released, me and my colleagues had to decide how to move on. Together with Ai Weiwei’s assistants we came to the conclusion that the best thing that we could do in that situation was to continue the preparations of the exhibition, it felt even more so important to show his work and make his voice heard. Despite my deep concerns for Ai Weiwei’s situation I had to focus as much as I could on completing the exhibition and do so in the most respectful way.

World Map by Ai Wei Wei

Can you explain the importance of the reading room being a part of the Ai Wei Wei exhibition? Why emphasize on all that information?

At the point when Ai Weiwei was detained and couldn’t be part of the preparations of the exhibition anymore, I felt it was important to give our visitors a deeper insight into Ai Weiwei’s situation, why he is on a collision course with the regime and consequently has become so known also outside the art world. So I developed a reading room. A physical one in the actual exhibition space, side by side with the artworks. It includes reading material, a sound archive where various people contributed with their stories and reflections on Ai Weiwei, interviews and documentaries on and by Ai Weiwei. But also a digital one, a special homepage gathering articles, documentaries, the sound archive, filmed documentation of all panel discussions that we have arranged in connection to the exhibition etc. in order for people to explore his work both as an artist, activist, blogger, architect. He himself does not really distinguish these roles. I found it interesting to bring this up through the reading room. Both the physical and digital reading room have proven very useful and much appreciated.

Video work by Ai Wei Wei 

Do you think new and digital media used in contemporary art has brought new aspects to arts and curating? Yes or no, explain why.

Well yes, I think since these new media are part of society today it is only a natural development that also artists explore them and art institutions adapt them in communicating with the audience. In some cases art can be brought closer to the viewer through various new media and attract those who are hard to reach in a more traditional manner. In our part of the world we live in a time with a tremendous fast pace. It is important that art can both adapt to these new circumstances but also offer a brake from just that. The content has to be the driving force otherwise the experience will be lost completely. It is a challenge for both artist and curator to find the right balance.

Stool by Ai Wei Wei

Photographs by Konsthopp

What qualities do you think a good curator should have?  

A good curator knows how to both support and challenge an artist, is curious and open minded, dedicated to the project and flexible to deal with different characters and situations under time pressure : )

From your point of view, how does the future of professional curating look like? What are your personal wishes, hopes and perspectives on your future curatorial plans?

My main motivation for being a curator is to learn more about life. Being close to art is an amazing way to deal with life, to explore notions of the present, history and future, to be inspired to thoughts and feelings. If I can transmit this also to other people then I think I am doing something good.

1 Comment

Filed under Ceramic Art, Conversation, Curator, Curator Talk, Documentary, Fine Art, Installation, Political Art, Sculptures, Sociopolitical art, Stockholm, Textile Art, Uncategorized, Video Art, Visual Art

MARSHMALLOWS IN MAY

Flavor of the month: Art festivals

May is a good month when it comes to art.

Work by Hanna Frostell (Konstfack exhibition 2011)

In Stockholm, students from Konstfack, Mejan, Beckmans and Berghs will all be presenting their graduation work — new ideas, trends, perspectives — which is really something looking forward to. One of our “artist talk” artist, Erla Silfá, is releasing her final project, Can’t hear my eyes, at Bio Rio the 21st — which I am personally very excited to hear — and Galleri Fotfolket just opened last friday, as the first mobile art gallery in the city.

From the opening of Galleri Fotfolket 11th of May 2012

In Reykjavík, we’ve already been at the graduation exhibition at LHÍ and in a week from now, one of the oldest and most respected arts festivals in Northern Europe, Reykjavík Art Festivalis opening — bringing together 29 artist-collectives with the collaboration of over 100 participants.

Konsthopp will (of course) be on the spot, reporting ‘the créme de la créme’ from the festival!

Art in Translation is another kind of biennial, a 3-day conference event that aims to create an interdisciplinary forum to explore connections between language and various art forms, this year emphasising on creative writing. At last we should also mention MESSA Vision, a small-scale teaser for MESSA 2013 – an ambitious project that claims to be “the first international visual art fair to be held in Iceland”.

Work by Assa Kauppi (Galleri Andersson/Sandström) – Art Copenhagen 2011

Photographs by Konsthopp

Beside what’s mentioned above, many of the art galleries are opening their last exhibition this month, before summer-closing.

We’ll try our best to keep you updated — so be sure you follow! And please let us know about other art festivals / happenings in your city!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Art festival, Conference, Conversation, Konsthopp, Live art, Reykjavík, Stockholm

THE DEMAND IS HIGHER THAN EVER

Curator talk: Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir (Iceland)

When did you start curating? Tell us something about your educational background?

My first experience with curating was back in high school, setting up our graduation art exhibition. We were many and had very different backgrounds, so it was quite a task putting up the show. However, we did work and the outcome was better than we had hoped fore! As for further curating for my behalf, there haven’t been many opportunities. Curating is not a part of our program in the arts department of University of Iceland, the classes that teach the subject are small classes and fill up quickly so it is difficult to get in them, so going abroad is the only option to become a professional curator. But since we do know what curating is and we are curious about it a student gallery was opened fall of 2011. The gallery, which is called Artíma Gallerí, is giving us opportunity to try out curating and finding other people that are interested in the subject of curating and running a gallery.

What is the artistic field of your curatorial practice?

Usually I deal with 2d artworks like paintings or drawings. It was interesting when we decided to include one of Hekla Björt Helgadóttir’s pieces, which consisted of a lamp, broken plates and a stone heart, in the 3rd show of Artíma Gallerí. Once we started planning, it turned out that the piece would work better as an installation using the afforded space in the gallery in a different way than we first envisioned.

Is there a difference in curating different field of arts, etc. paintings, videos, interactive works or a piece of net art?

In retrospect it didn’t seem to matter much to me in which form or medium the artworks were but of course sooner or later practical matters will need to be addressed. In an ideal situation, the curator takes away the burden from the artist, of matching the artworks to an audience in a meaningful way. In reality this often results in a very close collaboration between the curator and the artist, which can be slightly less glamorous. Hammering nails into the wall or holding the ladder while attaching support strings.

From Artíma #3, work by Hekla Björt Helgasóttir, curated by Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir. Photos/Konsthopp

What kind of qualities do you think a curator should have?

Curating is a broad field of work, and every show is different. I think the artist makes the biggest difference in putting up an exhibition and how fluently it goes. When the collaboration between the artist and the curator is good, magic can happen.

A good curator sees the needs of the artist and the exhibition and does what it takes to combine it in to an interesting exhibition. Flexibility and diplomacy is important, as are social and communication skills since a big part of putting up an exhibition is working with other people and finding common grounds to work from. A curator is also a facilitator, concerning herself with practical matters.

Do you think that new and digital media used in contemporary art has brought new aspects to arts and curating? Yes or no, explain why?

Digital media is very fascinating because it can be very vivid and alive. Due to my young age I cannot say much about the effects it has had on curating since digital media used as an art form is older than I am. What I can tell is that digital media and interactive works are becoming more and more popular in the museum world so the medium is marking its place in the ‘traditional’ art world.

In times of “You Tube” and the Internet, do you think a curator is still needed?

I don’t see the Internet as having much effect on curating, as in making curating unnecessary. Museums and galleries are becoming more and more popular each year and new art fairs seem to be popping up all over the world, so the demand for a curator, if anything, is higher than ever. Youtube creates an abundance of information; years worth of video are uploaded daily on Youtube alone. My partner pointed out to me that curating is engaged in actively by the online community. People have created channels or blogs with little or no original content, consisting of other people’s artworks both collecting and connecting them, cross media.

What are your curatorial plans for the future? What are your personal wishes, hopes and perspectives in curating?

Curating is a very interesting field of work, it offers you an exciting environment to work in, where you get to know artists and their work in a close and remarkable way. I hope to do more curating in the future since I find it an enjoyable experience. If I were to further my studies in curating, I would have to go abroad and at the moment I have no plans, I would be lying though to say that I haven’t looked into it.

What is the future of professional curating from your point of view?

Curating is a profession that seems to be on the rise. With more and more museums bursting up and art fairs existing in every country I think the field of curating is going to bloom in the coming years.

From Artíma #3, work by Hekla Björt Helgasóttir, curated by Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir. Photo/Konsthopp

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Art festival, Collage/Clip Art, Conversation, Digital Art, Group exhibit, Installation, Konsthopp, Media, Paintings, Reykjavík, Uncategorized, Visual Art

EXCITING WEEKEND AHEAD

Friday — the 20th of January 2012

There is an exciting weekend ahead for art lovers and aesthetes in Reykjavik. Santiago Sierra initiate the program with a performance, The Black cone in Austurvöllur today at 13.00.

For those who hunger for more Sierra, there is an exhibition opening with his work and polemical documentaries in Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafnarhúsið tonight at 20.00

No pope © Santiago Sierra, photograph courtesy of Estudio de Santiago Sierra 

Saturday — the 21st of January 2012

The unusual exhibition; Cyborg(s):Strange Creators and Creations will be launched in Kópavogur Art Museum, Gerðarsafn tomorrow at 15.00.

The curators of the show are Úlfhildur Dagsdóttir and Helgi Hjaltalín Eyjólfsson but the exhibition is based on the synonymous book by Úlfhildur which explores man´s fearful fascination with machines and technology. The exhibition will be opened by the Icelandic writer, Sjón.

The cover of the book; Sæborgin: Stefnumót líkama og tækni í ævintýri  og  veruleika. Photo taken from Spássían.is

At 17.00 same day, Gallery Kling og Bang will open their first exhibition of the year; Powerful picture (obsession-original) by Erling T. V. Klingenberg.

Sunday — the 22nd of January 2012

The exhibitionUnder Deconstruction by Libía Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson is now running in the National Gallery of Iceland. In relation to the show,  a lecture by the literary scholar; Hjálmar Sveinsson will be held on Sunday at 14.00.

Under Deconstruction was commissioned by the Icelandic Art Center for the Pavilion of Iceland at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2011 and was curated by Ellen Blumenstein.

Your Country Doesn´t Exist – 2011. Photograph courtesy of Libía and Ólafur

Happy art weekend everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Art Magazine, Artist books, Artist Talk, Comic Art, Conversation, Digital Art, Game Art, Illustrations, Installation, Konsthopp, Lecture, Media, Music, Performance, Photography, Political Art, Print, Reykjavík, Sculptures, Solo exhibit, Uncategorized, Video Art, Visual Art

“EVER CHANGING TRAGICOMEDY”

Artist talk: Monika Fryčová (Czech Republic)

It´s my belief that foreigners add colour to the life of Nordic communities. Not only literally — by the meaning of the word of colour — but rather culturally. The globalization has brought to us e.g. new knowledge, customs, ideas, gourmet food and intercultural exchanges in both music and art.

A short while ago, I met Monika Fryčová at her exhibition Perpeetum Mobile at Kling & Bang. Suddenly, the globalization became very vivid — almost touchable. There we stood, two women from different nations, wearing furs from east and west, talking about art together in English — with most regard to the east-european car, which was moved from Berlin to Reykjavik, not so long ago.

Here is a part of Monika Fryčová artist statement:

Monika Fryčová works with any sort of media and techniques. She frequently deals with untranslatable experiences, trying to per/form under their own rhythms…

…She has been exploring intercultural issues and border culture, exotic minorities and experimental languages. In recent years she has been focussed on Iceland due to its intense confrontations of the elements and unique meetings.

She avoids repeating herself.  

Since we started this blog in April, we have interviewed inspirational artists from China, Mexico, Greece, Denmark, Peru, Sweden, Iceland and now — The Czech Republic.  Living permanently or temporarily in Nordic countries they all have in common to significantly stimulate our cultural communities and art experiences.

We are proud to present our latest and last artist talk of 2011.

Please welcome Monika Fryčová!

QuengKong / performance by Monika Fryčová, 2011 (Penestanan, Bali)

Photograph belong to Monika Fryčová

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Artist Talk, Conversation, Installation, Konsthopp, Multimedia, Photography, Political Art, Reykjavík, Sculptures, Solo exhibit, Sound Art, Uncategorized, Video Art, Visual Art

ARTÍMA #3

Guided tour: 9th of December 2011 at 15.00, Artíma Gallerí (Reykjavik)

I was lucky enough to enjoy the guidance of Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir, the curator of “Great Chain of Being” by Hekla Björt Helgadóttir. Hekla is one of three artists exhibiting in a brand new gallery in Reykjavik  — named Artíma. Recently, three independent exhibitions took place there, curated by three different curators. The other two artists exhibiting were; Ragnheiður Maísól Sturludóttir, who displayed video work and still frames; and Óskar Hallgrímsson photographer, who presented both photographs and prints.

Marín told me all about the ideology behind the artists works and techniques. Although I was fascinated by most of the work  — I have to admit that Óskar´s photo series stood specially out to me.

Óskar was so captivated by this old man that he has actually considered to get the man’s face tattooed on his body

The photographer told me the story behind his series, which was shot on his unusual trip to Greenland in 2006. The characterization is strong, realistic and without the standard “Inuit” stereotypes. These stories and the frames around them touched me deeply. I felt like I knew the characters, similar to the feeling when you finish reading a well written book.

In the exhibition catalogue it says;

Óskar has tattooed himself with persons from his previous work — this obsession for his metabolite become some kind of series. An artwork series, which not only appear as an object, rather as a part of the artist ego — literally. Katrín I. Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir, the curator of Óskar´s exhibition in Artíma Gallerí 2011 (English vers. Ingunn Eyþórsdóttir).

Óskar Halgrímsson a.k.a. Skari Hall, has already been invited to his next tour to Greenland — this time to take confirmation pictures of Greenlandic teenagers but he is a very qualified portrait photographer. You can take closer look at his photos here.

Artíma gallery is a great addition to the cultural life in the city of Reykjavík. The gallery was founded about a month ago, by few members of the Association of Art History and Theory students at the University of Iceland. This exhibition form, i.e. two to three independent exhibitions at the same time, will remain at the gallery in the nearest future.

Congratulation everyone!

P.s. For those who understand Icelandic, you can listen to an interview with Katrín I. Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir, one of the ringleaders of the group here — Víðsjá; 17th of November 2011.

Work from the series ” Great Chain of Being” by Hekla Björt Helgadóttir  

Prints for sale by Óskar Hallgrímsson

Still frame from the work “Untitled stills I & II” by Ragnheiður Maísól Sturludóttir

Photographs by Konsthopp

Date: 9th – 11th of December 2011

Artists: Hekla Björt Helgadóttir, Ragnheiður Maísól Sturludóttir and Óskar Hallgrímsson

Curators: Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir, Hildur Rut Halblaub and Katrín I. Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir

Place: Artíma Gallerí, Smiðjustígur 10, Reykjavik

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Collage/Clip Art, Conversation, Digital Art, Installation, Konsthopp, Multimedia, Photography, Reykjavík, Sculptures, Solo exhibit, Uncategorized, Video Art, Visual Art

DECADE OF FASHION

Closed: 13th of November 2011, Gerðarsafn (Kópavogur)

And more about fashion.

Iceland´s fashion designers have been flourishing ever since the economy crashed in 2008. The broken economy led to lower rents on Laugarvegur, the capital´s most known shopping street, as well as our national devil (the Icelandic currency króna) sided against young designers to move abroad. Once the money disappeared, the fashion industry took on new life. Additionally, many design shops popped up in the city center, attracting both tourists and locals.

Sonja Bent

Mundi

Skaparinn

Sock by Sonja Bent

Photographs by Konsthopp

The exhibition was extensive and featured some of today´s best Icelandic fashion design. The Icelandic Fashion Council held the exhibition but the organization recently celebrated their tenth anniversary.

And the promise of Icelandic design keeps on rising…

Date: 8th of October – 13th of November 2011

Designers: Áróra, Ásta Creative Clothes, Farmers Market, Birna, Lúka Art & Design, Skaparinn, Shadow Creatures, ELM, Kurl Projekt, Eva María Árnadóttir, Eygló, Go with Jan, MUNDI, Gust, Guðmundur Jörundsson, Andersen & Lauth, Hanna Felting, Ziska, Ígló, KronKron, IBA-The Indian in Me, Jbj design, Kalda, REY, Forynja, Lykkjufall, Sonja Bent, Path of Love, Sunbird, Thelma, Spaksmannsspjarir, Eight of Hearts, Vera and Sruli Recht.

Place: Gerðarsafn, Hamraborg 4, Kópavogur

2 Comments

Filed under Artist Talk, Conversation, Design, Group exhibit, Konsthopp, Reykjavík, Textile Art, Uncategorized