Tuesday, August 21, 2007

an interview for Flash Art Italy/by Valentina Sansone

Can you tell me something about Data Recovery? Who are the artists involved?

Data Recovery is a curatorial attempt to form a different discursive field in flux, discussing contemporary art’s affinity with information and reality, deeply in collaboration with artistic strategies, after the period of relational aesthetics. Some call this period post-conceptual; i hesitate to use that term though i’m aware that my project is nourished from differerent possibilities of the conceptual today. I’m focusing on what we take for granted as information as the slide between reality and fiction. This performative slide becomes the internal motive for the participating artists to deal with what we call reality. turning into various strategies, unorthodox and undidactic, sometimes playful and slippery. At the end they make us question the way we perceive memory and history, think about the gaps left inbetween. The discursive field is created through the affinities among these strategies, similarities, differences and contrasts. That’s why I brought together very different artists, not very related with each other at the first sight: Julie Ault and Martin Beck, Michael Blum, Susanne Kriemann, Klub Zwei, Banu Cennetoglu and Goldin+Senneby. Following the evolution of conceptual framework, they have been enthusiastic about the project being in relation with the artists they didn’t show work together before. The works by Susanne Kriemann and Goldin+Senneby will be the new commissions for Data Recovery. I don’t want to reveal their processes now but it will be very exciting.

The curators chosen for the Lorenzo Bonaldi Prize where from New York, Seoul, London, Berlin etc. Could you notice a difference in their approach to the curatorial practice?

Actually, if the workshop hadn’t taken place, I wouldn’t have known about the curatorial approaches of the other contesting curators. Including the curators participating in the workshop: Of course the local contexts are important in the uniqueness of approaches, but I also realized that they are shaped by the specializing programmes the curators are educated in. For example, I myself finished Critical Studies in Malmoe Art Academy (which is a sort of Scandinavian version of Whitney) and it made a difference. There were people from Whitney, Bard, De Appel, Royal Academy’s curating programme in the workshop. Different educational programmes are creating different ecoles today. The role of education in contemporary art must be undertaken more critically, we must think of the models opening up alternative spaces for both curators and artists rather than following what is common.

You live and work in Wien. Do you think that there's a connection between your origins and the Mittel Europa culture in your projects?

I was living in Malmoe, Sweden before. I came to Vienna to work with Generali Foundation at the end of 2006. I don’t know where next, may be Brazil, may be Middle East. I love to be mobile in learning, thinking and observing. Different local contexts bring in different challenges and I think that is very vital for a young curator moulding his/her vision and practice. Before choosing my work places, I always consider the local bricks I can pick up to construct my vision. Vienna is not only an important center for German speaking art theory and production but also very close to the Eastern European cities where one finds a lot of things to think and discover.

The other thing is the question of Western modernity, seeing and questioning it there as a foreigner. My experience in Europe taught me a lot of things about the problems of democracy which is seen or thought as “the ideal” from far away. Turkey took the models of modernization from the West, the import of those models created a cultural schizophrenia which is the source of many things discussed about Turkey today as a place in between. As the cultural thinkers and producers of the country, these problematics are always there to deal with and to be nourished from. The experiences and observations I have earned are always somewhere in my projects, they enlarge my vision.

You worked with Aernout Mik during Dan Cameron's 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003) and you now collaborate with Hou Hanru for the upcoming edition of this year's Biennial. What are you preparing for this occasion?

Working with Aernout during 8th Istanbul Biennial was my first professional experience within an international context. We became good friends, his advises are always very important for me. The interesting coincidence was Dan Cameron’s being in the jury for Premio Lorenzo Bonaldi Award.
For 10th International Istanbul Biennial, I’m collaborating with four young curators for Electronic Image DaZiBao project which we titled as “nightcomers”. Hou Hanru made a version of this project in Paris before. “nightcomers” departs from the idea of open platform of expression of DaZiBao, i.e. anonymous street newspapers put in public space criticizing the government and its deeds during Cultural Revolution in China. nightcomers will be a mobile project showing video selections according to the conceptual framework we prepared and thus marking different places in Istanbul during Biennial expanding the Biennial into the city. Thinking of our starting point, we made an open call to everyone interested in “nightcomers” no matter s/he is an artist or not and prepared a pool of 5 minute videos. We are also collaborating with BikVanderPol who made a detailed research in the city and put out a map of available spots for screenings in public space. We chose 25 of them following our own intuitions of Istanbul; various surfaces and various neighbourhoods. Now each curator is processing his/her video selection and these selections will be screened alternately from a travelling van at the spots prepared by BikvanderPol. “Self-organized justice” will be the gist of my selection; referring to the dilemnas of inclusions/exclusions on the world today and questioning autonomous spaces we search for.

You are working on EGOCITI, due to take place in Vienna in 2008. Can you tell me something about this event?

EGOCITI will be a continuation of EXOCITI in Istanbul. EXOCITI was a public space project basing itself on sticker/poster/graffiti. The project’s main orientation was
questioning stereotypes of thinkings about Istanbul, which is a city between east and west. Artists coming from east and west; Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Jakarta, Istanbul, Graz, Milano and Tehran produced pieces subverting the exotic identity reflected by west. We collectively marked certain areas of the city with stickers, posters, stencils and graffitis produced for this occasion. It was an illegal project developed as work in progress. EXOCITI was supported by talks given by the artists and followed over the daily updated project blog. Now with EGOCITI, we are turning to one of the cities that has been creating that exotic identity alongside discrimination, racism and xenophobia, which can all be traced back to colonialism. Viennese people generally hate to accept that but Vienna is stuck between east and west, it is the closest west for east. And the cityspace is experiencing a friction between its ghosts (aristocracy, fascism) and its actuality (large immigrant neighbourhoods, developing subcultures). There will be changing names in the crew of artists, but the main orientation and strategies will stay the same. Because of the historical and cultural connections between the two cities, Vienna will be a very interesting follow up for this project. I’m thinking of producing a publication comparing these two different experiences afterwards.

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