RELATING CONTEMPORARY ART TO LOCALITY
Similar to an alchemist combining elements to create a formula, an exemplary curator embraces uncertainty and chaos to convert an exhibition or a festival to manifest the perceptions of artistry. The curator thus becomes the person who connects artists, ideas, and discursive thoughts and thereupon finds a path to form dialogues between these elements. In conversation with Natasha Ginwala, curator and artistic director of Colomboscope 2019, we explored the insights she gathered over the years in defining and practicing the role of a curator. Natasha’s curatorial significance primarily lies in the analogy of an exhibition being similar to that of a laboratory; a space that is alive with a broad capacity for thought, collaboration and experimentation.
“The process of curating, I think is much more than a profession at this point – it’s a way of life, it’s a way of thinking, it’s a way of building relationships” says Natasha. The structure of developing an exhibition requires working collectively, building trust and communication skills that help artists know that the curator is able to relate to their perception at an individual and societal level. “You take on the role of a mediator - the curatorial process is a web of many kinds of responsibility and manifestations beyond a seeming selection criteria; it includes understanding the social economy around the art work and tackling historical erasure from within the present”. This was Natasha’s approach to the sixth edition of the interdisciplinary arts festival Colomboscope, which was held at the Rio Complex and other venues in Colombo from the 24th to the 31st of January 2019 of which ARTRA was happy to have been a local partner. Over thirty intergenerational local and international visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, and scientific experts participated in Colomboscope: Sea Change, bringing together different stories of maritime history, delving into oceanic ecology and shipping infrastructure.
Natasha Ginwala was recently appointed as a co-artistic director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale scheduled to be held in 2020 in South Korea. She has curated art exhibitions and festivals in various countries including the Gropius Bau in Berlin (2019), Contour Biennale 8, Belgium, e-flux, New York, David Roberts Art Foundation, London; and collaborated on documenta 14 (2017), the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014), Taipei Biennial 2012 and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) to name a few. We found the curatorial process at Colomboscope 2019: Sea Change to be site-responsive, and evolving in accordance to the context. “I have actively chosen to work in very different cultural contexts, purposefully taking on assignments that include art schools, artist run spaces and independent cultural organizations both within and beyond Europe and South Asia,” she states, and reveals that key curatorial insights are gained from more challenging spaces where there is an informal cultural scene and instabilities that are woven into everyday life delivering a commentary and a response to cultural implications.
ARTRA is Sri Lanka’s Art Magazine exploring curated content on Sri Lanka’s visual art, performance art, applied art and written art. Launched in 2012, ARTRA Magazine is a compact monthly art read providing a comprehensive understanding on Sri Lankan artists, art events, monthly art calendars and the Sri Lankan design landscape. In sum, all you need to know about art in Sri Lanka.
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