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Talking art- Global curators meet at Kolkata hub


aNew Delhi: How did India’s first art biennale at Kochi originate or how does an entire industrial city in Germany come alive once every five years with a cornucopia of artworks? Curators from across the world are set to give insight into how they put together some big-scale art shows.

The Experimenter Art Gallery in Kolkata is bringing together ten curators – including Polish curator Adam Szymczyk who will direct Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany in 2017 and Riyaz Komu, the co-founder of Kochi Muziris Biennale, which held its first edition in 2012 – for a two-day meet starting July 25.

Other names include Alexander Koch, Eungie Joo, Grant Watson, Pooja Sood, Ranjit Hoskote, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Yuko Hasegawa and Magdalena Ziolkowska, will talk about their exhibitions held in the past two years.

“The idea of the curators’ hub was to have an open platform to exchange notes between various art curators and discuss contemporary curatorial practices from different parts of the world. All of the selected people have never met each other and may not know each others’ work,” says Priyanka Raja, co-founder and Director, Experimenter.

First started in 2011, the Experimenter Curators’ Hub (ECH) has over the last three years emerged a platform to talk, debate and present the most contemporary thought behind curating exhibitions in today’s context.

“Curatorial practice in India is at a crucial juncture and it is important to talk about its current state and its future development, especially through conversations between curators who are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art,” say

While curators will give presentations and hold discussion amongst themselves, the second day will culminate in an open session where artists, thinkers, collectors, writers, other curators, filmmakers, gallerists and other individuals from
the arts will interact with each other.

The first edition of the ECH brought together curators under the age of 45 and focused on contemporary South Asian Art while the following two editions had “intense individual presentations” that explored among other things collaborative process of art curating.

“This year we have some extremely well recognised names in the art world like Adam Szymczyk. He will be curating the next Documenta, an exhibition which brings alive an entire city for 100 days. Previous editions have featured as many as 300 artists.

These curators have organised large art exhibitions, which are widely seen and has been critically appreciated. It will be a forum where they will all talk about the formal path of exhibition making and what went into their thoughts,” says Priyanka.

One of the participants Eungie Joo is the curator of the forthcoming ‘Sharjah Biennial 12: The past, the present, the possible’ in the UAE. Grant Watson, a freelance curator, writer and researcher has done major projects including a touring exhibition which investigates links through textiles between Britain and India.

As curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp his projects included the exhibitions Santhal Family Positions Around an Indian Sculpture. Watson has worked with Indian art since the mid 1990s.

Yuko Hasegawa is Chief Curator of Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo  and has been a member of the Asian Art Council at the New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

The ECH has “worked very strongly” says Priyanka who adds that “from the time we began four years ago we have an ready and willing audience.”

“For us gallerists it is two days of going to school and exploring what is the future is going to be like,” says Priyanka.

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