06 Oct 2015

This content is tagged as Visual arts .


Curating Under Pressure   International Symposia

5-8 November 2015
University of Canterbury, Ilam Campus,
Room 101 in The Undercroft
Christchurch, New Zealand

In September 2010, Christchurch’s SCAPE Biennial of Public Art was three weeks away from opening when the city was struck by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, damaging the city and halting the sixth biennial. Half a world away, a biennial had been founded in New Orleans in 2006 precisely because of the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing political and social debacle. In both places two different concepts of what art can do in times of pressure and disaster are at work, but both instances raise questions about the role of art in extreme situations - whether caused by natural disasters, extreme political pressure, oppressive regimes or terrorist threats.

As Christchurch continues to come to terms with the series of massive seismic events five years ago, it will host the international symposium Curating Under Pressure.  It was initiated by Leonhard Emmerling, Goethe-Institut, and Elke aus dem Moore, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and is realised in partnership with Toi Aotearoa, Arts Council of New Zealand, Creative New Zealand and the University of Canterbury, supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.

The symposium will bring together a rich cohort of curators, artists and theorists and will focus on the audience and the ethics surrounding the biennial structure. Is there a responsibility towards the audience, and if so, how could it be described? What are art’s promises towards the audience? Does art have the power to heal trauma and to build resilience against hardship and disaster? Does art have the power to instigate change – political or social? And if not: What are the consequences for cultural producers, artists, curators and exhibition organisers?

Over four days a variety of speakers will explore these questions via prepared presentations, panel discussions, guided tours, public gatherings, and loosely programmed encounters and conversations.   The first day will contextualise the post-quake Christchurch situation as experienced by locals in relation to the city’s multiple histories. The second day explores other significant natural disasters including those that have occurred in Japan and Indonesia, and the responses to these events in the artistic and wider communities. The third day addresses political pressure, asking - among other things - how biennials can avoid servitude to states and governmental organizations seeking cultural tools to conceal oppressive politics. On the final day we will seek a way forward; in close group discussions participants will be asked to contribute to a working manifesto of curatorial ethics.

Invited guests include: Brooke Davis Anderson (Director, Prospect, New Orleans), Gabriele Horn (Director, Berlin Biennial, Berlin), Rona Kopeczky (artistic director OFF-Biennále Budapest), Azar Mahmoudian (Independent Curator, Teheran),  Gabi Ngcobo (Center for Historical Reenactments, Johannesburg, Co-Curator Sao Paulo Biennial), Elvira Dyangani Ose (Curator, Göteborg Biennial), Alisa Prudnikova (Commissioner / Artistic Director, Ural Industrial Biennial), Zasha Colah (Independent Curator, India), Shannon Te Ao (Artist, Lecturer at Massey University), Russell Brown (Media-Theorist, New Zealand), Miyamoto Katushiro (Architect, Hyogo Province), Sorcha Carey (Director, Edinburgh Art Festival) Artists and Activists from Christchurch

Curating under Pressure is a free symposium. You can view the draft programme and register at www.curating-under-pressure.com

For further information or press inquiries contact:
Jamie Hanton, Project Co-ordinator curatingunderpressure@canterbury.ac.nz
Additional information: 
Ifa and Goethe-Institut are independent cultural institutions promoting the international art and culture exchange through art exhibitions and dialogue programs. Curating under Pressure will be the sixth edition in the ifa conference series Biennials in Dialogue, which aims to generate discussions amongst all the participants involved in the growing business of biennial culture. Previous conferences in this series focused on the perspectives of directors and organisers of biennials; later editions have asked curators, researchers, and artists to raise new questions.

Image credit:  Tim J. Veling. New World, Durham Street, Christchurch. From the series Adaptation, 2011–2012. C-type print, 1500x1200mm.