Monday, 28 April 2014

Why Curate Award failed

If you don't know what I am talking about, watch this video first.

However, the initiatives that Curate Award has published on its Facebook page so far* failed to fulfill the call that anyone can curate anything since all of the selected ideas are generated by already established art/architecture professionals. An attempt to open up the gates of arty ivory tower and equality to bring "your ideas on a bigger scale" (source: promo video) has failed to embrace at least one "Cinderella" that is doing something different than curating exhibitions in established institutions or independently. Without knowing much about the backstage as the process was not transparent at all as well as delayed by more than a month (whether it was because of huge inflow of applications, heating discussions and tough decisions or simply busy schedule of the jury or all at once), it is difficult to understand how diverse was the background of the applicants and what went wrong with such a cool idea and what mechanisms were present or missing to manage the selection process. 

We know only that 63 countries entered the competition. Source: Curate Award FB page

Not restricting the media/topic and being open to anyone was a very risky path but rewarding in terms of media coverage and public expectations. The diversity and strength of the projects prove that it indeed helped to nurture creativity. Nevertheless, the selection results proved that Curate Award is not different from any exclusive and chamber event for those in the art world. 

* from the list of the finalists, the only two projects not yet presented on FB page could be the two outliers developed by non-arty people: "The Power of Words Exhibition" developed by people from PR & Communication background from Qatar and "The Reader Digested" project as the authors are MIT researchers

Monday, 21 April 2014

In focus: Young Contemporary Hungarian Artists at derkó.pécsi.2014

This year's Easter weekend was marked by a visit to Budapest's Kunsthalle contemporary art museum located in 1895 eclectic-neoclassicism building in the Heroes' square. Strolling at night after a heavy Hungarian dinner, I have noticed a big announcement of Shirin Neshat's exhibition and my visit followed the next day.  

Little I knew about the contemporary art in Hungary, so the discovery of quite a few names paid off my early Sunday morning pilgrimage. The group exhibition consisted of Derkovits Gyula Fine Arts Scholarship holders' artworks. My  favorite were István Felsmann's Lego Relief pieces and witty pieces and a witty installation of three maneki-neko sculptures playing music instruments as well as Gábor Koós's Budapest Diary large-scale prints and wooden stencils (I have been quite lucky to try to make some on my own in Autumn 2013). 

 István Felsmann, Hospitalacryl, lego, 2010
 István Felsmann, Hospitalacryl, lego, 2010. Detail
István FelsmannD.M.Z, print, lego, 65X65, 2013
 István FelsmannD.M.Z, print, lego, 65X65, 2013. Detail
István Felsmann, Newspaperlego, newspaper, 34X45, 2011
István FelsmannNewspaperlego, newspaper, 34X45, 2011. Detail
 István FelsmannCompositionlego, paper, 34X45, 2010
István FelsmannBookletlego, booklet, 34X45, 2009

István FelsmannManeki-neko Playing Bass, installation, 2014

Gábor Koós's Budapest Diary series, print, 2014
 Gábor Koós's Budapest Diary series, stencil, 2014
 Gábor Koós's Budapest Diary series, print, 2014
Gábor Koós's Budapest Diary series, stencil, 2014

Works of Judit Rita Raboczky reminded me a variation of Pawel Althamer's 2011 commission for Deutsche Guggenheim, Venetians large-scale sculpture installation for 2013 Venice Biennial while the installation of Szanyi Borbàla - to another Polish artist NeSpoon whose works are based on lace patterns usually inserted into urban landscapes. However, for this associative exercise, there is a separate post.

Judit Rita RaboczkyLooking in the Mirror, 2011, achor
Judit Rita RaboczkyLooking in the Mirror, 2011, achor. Detail
Judit Rita Raboczky, 2011, achor
Pawel Althamer at Venice 2013 Biennale with a variation of his 2011 commission for Deutsche Guggenheim, Venetians large-scale sculpture installation

Szanyi Borbàla, YSA PUR III, 2013, iron
NeSpoon, Franciacorta project for Art Kitchen Foundation. Source: artist's Behance page

Click here for more photos and videos

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Amsterdam-Budapest and the focus on Iranian art

Earlier this month I have visited Amsterdam-based FOAM photography museum to check Kaveh Golestan's The Citadel 1975-77 photo documentary project of Tehran's Shahr-e No red light district. Literally translated as a "New City" Shahr-e No was an old 1920 neighborhood that got surrounded by walls in 1953 exclusively inhabited by female and young male prostitutes. The entrance to the ghetto where prostitutes were walking on the streets semi-naked was through one gate and only men were allowed to enter the citadel. 

Few weeks before the victory of the 1979 Islamic revolution the activists burned and demolished the "sin city" with undisclosed number of residents trapped inside, the survived inhabitants were later executed as a part of post-revolutionary cultural cleaning. The area has been converted into a recreational zone with a park and a pond. Thus, Golestan's photo archive is one of the few remained documentations that trace back nowadays unspoken and shameful part of Tehran city's history. Women most of whom he befriended during almost two year-lasting project are humanized through the lens of Kaveh's camera that captures natural, non-staged moments of their daily lives. Vintage photographs together with a newspaper compilation, Golestan's diaries and other materials such as Iranian authorities documents as well as audio-taped interviews of the women living in the citadel immersed me in their ambience of misery and despear. 

Shahr-e No's citadel 1920 plan

Kaveh Golestan's The Prostitutes series, 1975-1977. Source: artist's website

This week theme of Shahr-e No unexpectedly reappeared during my Hungarian Easter getaway at Budapest's Mûcsarnok with New-York based Shirin Neshat's small, but very powerful video installation exhibition. This first Budapest solo show comprises from a surrealistic two-channel 1993 Rapture video shot in Marocco and a twenty-minute chapter Zarin where the leading role is played by a Hungarian actress Orsi TóthThis 2005 piece is about Shahr-e No resident Zarin who decided to flee the ghetto and her humiliating present. A part of the artist's bigger reclaimed project based on 1989 Women Without Men novel by Shahrnush Parsipur, this video chapter is aesthetically and eloquently reveals an unpleasant and controversial topic of women in society and their sexual exploitation.

Stills from Shirin Neshat's 2005 Zarin video 

Shirin Neshat's 2009 Silver Lion awarded Women Without Men trailer with English subtitles

Shirin Neshat's 2009 Silver Lion awarded Women Without Men full movie in Farsi

Post-screening discussion with Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari

Note: Kaveh Golestan's exhibition in FOAM lasts until May 4, 2014 and Shirin Neshat's - April 27, 2014.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

When Lady Gaga was not even born...

...there was a Dutch duet whose creations she would definitely wear. 

Gijs Bakker and Emmy Van Leersum, "couple from the year 2000", as they were called by a journalist covering their revolutionary show opening at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum Edelsmeden 3 (Silversmith 3) back on May 12, 1967, were also partners in real life. In the first five years of their marriage they signed a number of jewelry designs with GIJS+EMMY stamps, represented by two plus signs. 

The duet placed great emphasis on the relationship between jewelry and human body and was the first to use industrial materials such as lightweight aluminum or hard, unruly stainless steel. Space theme, massive and unusual forms, choice of cheap and affordable materials are the main characteristics of their bold creations. 

Decades later, the museum decided to get back to the legendary and provocative designers by creating a temporary show (on view until August 24, 2014) inspired by 1967 exhibition.  

photos of the entry video reconstructing the 1967 show ambience

full video

Probably, these items have been inspiration for Maison Martin Margiela jewelry department

 ...and these for Philip Treacy's creations

"basic garments" rejecting the fashion dictates of Parisian haute couture
In 1967 show the garments were worn by designers' friends who shocked the visitors by appearing among them in these futuristic garments and later walked out in the streets of Amsterdam. One witness has claimed to see the "spacemen" while others found them quite "absurd romper suits"