An Archaeology of a Profession

CuratorLab presents a two-day online program: An Archaeology of a Profession. Conversations with ground-breaking senior curators.

4 September | Valerie Smith, Mary Jane Jacob

moderated by Joanna Warsza

5 September | Elisabet Haglund, Carlos Capelán, Jan-Erik Lundström

moderated by Maria Lind

Hosted by CuratorLab at Konstfack University of Arts, Stockholm, Sweden

In collaboration with Public Art Agency Sweden, International MA in Curating Art at Stockholm University, and Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm

CuratorLab embarks on a year-long project tracing the professional archaeology of some of the senior ground-breaking curators. We will dig into a number of instrumental exhibitions and other projects, which on the one hand introduced decolonial and other non-hegemonic approaches in Sweden, and on the other hand anti-monumental curating in the public realm in Europe and the US. The projects will lead us to practitioners who have made a mark on both art and curating of their time, and still remain less known. This year research will lead us to making a book and an exhibition honoring their legacy.

CuratorLab is a one-year international curatorial course at Konstfack University of Arts, Stockholm, under the program direction of Joanna Warsza and guest lecturer Maria Lind. We are expanding the ideas of curating and the curatorial beyond the exhibition format, exploring radical approaches to engagement, debating pertinent issues of our times, having collective fun, and practicing horizontal learning, also with the help of curatorial assistant Vasco Forconi.

Full program below

September 4: Some case studies of public art. What is public and counter-public in public art? How have the notions of situated or embedded art changed over the years? How does extractivist mind-set penetrate some of so-called participatory projects?

15.00-16.00 Valerie Smith on Sonsbeek 93, Arnhem

17.00-18.00 Mary Jane Jacob on Culture in Action, Chicago 1993

Moderated by Joanna Warsza

15:00-16.00 Valerie Smith looking back at Sonsbeek 93, Public Zoom

The presentation revisits Sonsbeek 93 in Arnhem, in Holland, an exhibition planned to bridge art, artists and society and one of the first exhibitions focusing on the importance of such terms as context, collaboration, interconnection between the local and global. Curator Valerie Smith looks back at her show, both guiding us through its intricacies, artists’s concepts, the processes of producing the pieces, telling what worked and what didn’t and introducing the curatorial kitchen of context-embedded work back then and now.

Valerie Smith is an art historian, freelance curator, and writer living and working in Berlin and New York. In her capacity as the director of the curatorial departments at Artists Space, the Queens Museum, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and commissioner of Sonsbeek 93, Arnhem, NL she has curated many public and “in house” exhibitions, working closely with artists and architects such as, Mirosław Bałka, Arno Brandlhuber, Mike Kelley, Annette Messager, Juan Muñoz, Alighiero e Boetti, Nari Ward, Emily Jacir, Shirin Neshat, Lee Mingwei, Joan Jonas, Amateur Architecture Studio (Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu), Ângela Ferreira, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Klara Lidén, Mike Rakowitz, Jimmie Durham, Javier Tèllez, Qiu Zhijie, Rebecca Quaytman, Paweł Althamer, Elizabeth Diller/Ricardo Scofidio, Juan Downey. She has authored and edited numerous catalogues and essays, and recently published a monograph on Amy Sillman. She currently teaches exhibition histories at Barnard College, Columbia University and is writing a book on American 19th century drawings.

17.00-18.00 Culture in Action in Chicago 1993 by Mary Jane Jacob, Public Zoom

A show challenging conventional understandings of public art, ‘Culture in Action’ in Chicago had a new social agenda, and reworked what an exhibition of contemporary art might be. Through eight projects by artists, initiated in the early 1990s and developed in collaboration with local communities, the intention was to engage diverse groups over time, in addition to the visiting public.

Mary Jane Jacob is a curator and writer who pioneered public, site-specific, and socially engaged art as a shared practice and discourse with the landmark programs “Places with a Past” and “Places with a Future” in Charleston, South Carolina; “Culture in Action” in Chicago; and “Conversations at the Castle” for the Atlanta Olympics. Previously, as chief curator of the Museums of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Los Angeles, she staged some of the first US exhibitions of some leading avant-garde artists in the US and Europe. She has probed creative practioners’ relationship to audiences and society in the co-edited volumes Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, Learning Mind: Experience into Art, Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society, The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists, and the Chicago Social Practice History Series. Her most recent book is Dewey for Artists published by the University of Chicago Press. She is currently organizing a major exhibition of the pioneering Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz for Tate Modern. Jacob is Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she is also Director of the Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice.

September 5: Some case studies in Sweden.

On Saturday 5 September a four-leaf clover of curators and some of their curated projects will be presented in on and off-line conversations with Maria Lind. In Sweden, Carlos Capelan, Elisabet Haglund, Jan-Erik Lundström and Gunilla Lundahl have all contributed to the introduction of diverse geographies, as well as a variety of curatorial and theoretical approaches. We will look at and discuss, among other things, a solo show with Rio de Janeiro-based Tunga at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, the participation of Uruguay in the 2013 Venice Biennial, a curated project about the urban development of the city of Skellefteå and various exhibitions at Sámi Dáiddaguovddaš/Sami Center for Contemporary Art in Kárašjohka. Each conversation will be about one hour long, leading to further research on the highlighted curated projects by CuratorLab participants and others.

10.00-11.00 Elisabet Haglund

11.30-12.30 Carlos Capelán

13.30-14.30 Jan-Erik Lundström

Moderated by Maria Lind

10.00-11.00 Elisabet Haglund

As a curator, writer and researcher, Elisabet Haglund has often gone beyond the beaten tracks, focusing on artists and topics which at the time did not have a lot of visibility. Whether exhibitions as that with the Rio de Janeiro-based artist Tunga at Stockholm’s Kulturhuset and a group exhibition with artists from India that she curated at Borås Konstmuseum, or her doctoral thesis on the surrealist Victor Brauner, she has contributed with non-Western perspectives. She is one of few women art historians and curators in Sweden who have gone on to direct several art institutions. Among her many exhibitions at Skissernas Museum, which she directed 2005-2012, is a retrospective with the pioneer of abstraction and artist of migration, Sonia Dealunay. Since the 1970s, Haglund’s curatorial voice has been a unique and invigorating one in the sphere of art in Sweden.

11.30-12.30 Carlos Capelán

Carlos Capelán, born in Montevideo in 1948, is mostly known as an artist working with a variety of media often assembled in installations dealing with power relations, in particular issues around identity, displacement and representation. In addition, he is active as a curator and among his recent projects are an extensive solo exhibition with Paulo Uribe at Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales in Montevideo and the pavilion of Uruguay at the 2013 Venice Biennale. After being exiled from Uruguay he settled in Lund, along with many other political refugees from Latin America. Capelán’s trajectory is thoroughly international, with exhibitions and talks across many continents, and participations in for example the biennials in Johannesburg, Havanna, Venice and Gwangju. He has held solo exhibitions at Lund Konsthall, the Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Chile’s National Art Museum, Uruguay’s National Museum of Art, Henie Onstad Art Center, Oslo, among others.

13.30-14.30 Jan-Erik Lundström

The curatorial work of Jan-Erik Lundström can be described as one of introductions and important contributions to the sphere of visual arts in Sweden, and beyond. In the early 1990s, he was seminal in introducing the notion of visual culture, photographic theory, post structural theory and post-colonial approaches, as well as the work of indigenous artists, among them Pia Arke, Lewis de Soto and Britta Marakatt Labba. In addition, in 1994 he co-curated the first exhibition in Sweden of major feminist artist Mary Kelly. Having worked as the chief curator at Moderna museet during the 1990s, heading a department known then as Fotografiska museet, he went on to direct Bildmuseet in Umeå. The latter is an institution of contemporary art and visual culture instrumental in non-Western discourses for the Swedish and Scandinavian art world, working with extensive projects with art and culture out of Africa, Latinamerica and the Arab World. He has also directed the regional Norrbottens museum in Luleå and Sámi Dáiddaguovddaš/Sami Center for Contemporary Art in Kárašjohka. Lundström has taught extensively across the Nordic region and he publishes frequently. He has curated several biennials, including the ones in Prague, Bucharest and Thessaloniki.