Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, co-founders of multi-disciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented, share a selection of artworks that have inspired their curatorial approach with Selections
Going beyond conventional art historical and geographical classifications is one of the core concerns of our curatorial practice. As independent curators, we are at liberty to choose our projects, which range from curating exhibitions at large institutions such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, international biennales including Venice and Sydney, small art centres such as the Mosaic Rooms in London and serving on the jury of Videobrazil, to being the chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation. In the past ten years, we have curated exhibitions in museums and art institutions in Korea, Australia, the United States, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Belgium. What all these projects have in common is our deepening conviction in the central role that artists play in enabling us to re-imagine, and therefore re-invent, our reality.
The context in which a particular artwork is shown fundamentally changes its perception by the public. Firstly, the geographic location plays a major role in how a viewer would relate to an artwork, such as Rateb Seddik’s seminal surrealist work being shown in Paris – the birthplace of Surrealism – or Raed Yassin’s work being shown in Korea. Secondly, the exhibition format may contribute to the impact of a particular artwork, an example of which is Akram Zaatari’s film being shown as part of a National Pavilion in what is arguable the most global Biennale. Wafaa Bilal’s interactive performance, which was commissioned for the opening of Mathaf in Doha, is another such example. Thirdly, solo exhibitions and retrospectives, such as we curated for Paul Guiragossian or Mona Hatoum, provide the broader context for the artistic oeuvre of an artist at large. Finally, group exhibitions can examine the formalistic aspects of an artwork, such as Lee Ufan’s paintings within the context of the Korean monochrome movement Dansaekhwa, or Wu Tsang’s installation being presented within a survey of spatial concerns in video art. Group exhibitions can equally highlight thematic contexts, such as with Markus Schinwald’s paintings, or with Hans-Peter Feldmann’s version of the famous bust of Nerfertiti.
For our contribution to the “Curated by…” series, we have chosen artworks from some of our previous exhibitions, which have inspired our curatorial approach. These artworks tell manifold stories of how an artist has chosen to break existing boundaries. They are united in their ability to convey their subject matter’s formalistic appeal – irrespective of when, how, and by whom they were created. Last but not least, with all the theoretical discussion around an artwork, we should always remember to be seduced by its magical capability to communicate those things that simply cannot be expressed in words.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Biennial & Museum Acquisitions #41, pages 146-162.