WORLD OF ART
Laboratorium of Curatorial Practices
Season 12: 2008/09
Symposium on the State of Curatorial Practices in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Turkey
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Project Room SCCA, Metelkova 6, Ljubljana
Since 2006 SCCA-Ljubljana is collaborating with the National Association of Art Critics in Armenia, which is the organizer of the Summer Seminars Program for Contemporary Art Curators. The Association has conceived its further development in collaboration with regional partners who systematically and on long-term basis build a platform for stimulating and understanding contemporary curatorial practices and critique. In the realm of the partners meeting SCCA-Ljubljana organized a symposium on the state of curatorial practices in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Turkey entitled From Elsewhere in the Project room.
The Symposium that started at 5 pm and continued beyond the presupposed hour of closure during an interesting round table, was conceptualized in two parts. In the first part the participants presented papers describing the present state of contemporary art and curatorial practices in their respective countries.
The Armenian theoretician and critic Nazareth Karoyan presented the transition which took place on the contemporary Armenian art scene at the end of nineties with exhibition examples. The art practices of the country that gained its independence in 1991 articulated a reaction against the Soviet collectivist ideology and its iconography in the nineties. The practices, especially installations and performances, which at that time articulated through referring to the dominant discourses of the body and the space, have reformed themselves into the new-media based practices (video and digital photography) and the discourses of historical time and memory.
The paper of Valeria Ibraeva, a Kazakhstani art theoretician and critic presented the diversity of the practices of Central Asian, Indian and Pakistani artists and theoreticians. The knowledge about the differences was gained working on a project lasting for several years and called Destination Asia. Describing the exhibitions Non-strict correspondence, which took place in Almaty, and Flying over Stereotypes, which was organized in Mumbai, the lecturer demonstrated that large differences exist between art works from countries which are understood as a unified entity by the West. These differences are the result of varying sociopolitical frames in which the artists work and create.
Laura Calderera has been working as Program Manager at the Townhouse Gallery of contemporary art, the first independent Cairo gallery for contemporary art since January 2007. Since 2007 she is also preparing an educational program for curators. In her paper she presented the infrastructure that is available to the world of art in Cairo and pointed towards the problematic of establishing contemporary art in a state with such a rich cultural heritage and art history as Egypt has.
Renata PapschRenata Papsch, a cultural manager from Austria has initiated and managed cultural projects in different countries of the Mediterranean pool. At the moment she is re-establishing the cultural canter DEPO which will connect the contemporary art worlds of Turkey, the South Caucasus, the Middle Eastern and Balkan countries. The lecture meticulously described the spaces for contemporary art in Istanbul and in wider Turkey, but it also presented the problems of financing contemporary art in this country.
After a longer break the Round table on the Curatorial practices and their education followed. Besides the lecturers also the director of the SCCA-Ljubljana Barbara Borčič, curator and art historian from Yerevan Angela Harutyunyan, the leader of the World of Art (school year 2008/2009) at SCCA-Ljubljana Petja Grafenauer collaborated. They descovvered similarities between the different contextx presented at the symposium. In each of them, the specialists are aware of the need to establish educational programs of contemporary art curating. In Egypt and Armenia such programs are already present but they face a significant lack of educators. A need for knowledge, which wouldn’t spring only from the dominant Western world of art but would also offer knowledge about the local area, its legitimacy and problems, exists. With the help of connection between the cooperating organizations joined by the European partner SCCA-Ljubljana, a possibility is offered for the exchange of educators and the spreading of knowledge and expertise on local and regional art worlds alike. With such cultural politics the collaborating organizations are developing the field of education in the realm of curatorial practices but they also care for the coexistence of local specificities of separate cultural areas.
The Symposium attracted specialists but unfortunately not the wider art public. We can gather that the interest for less well known regional art practices is becoming smaller and smaller as the Slovenian art world is becoming more and more Western- orientated. Because of this issue, the organization of such symposiums as From Elsewhere is more than important. These are the main target for SCCA Ljubljana’s activities in that they focus on different forms of knowledge transfer between regional systems of art, often overseen by general Western orientated contemporary art.