Emerging curators meeting
Report by Karmen Krasić Kožul
I always feel unpleasant on airports, kind of presumed to be guilty, until you prove it otherwise, but the thought of landing to London airport made me feel even more anxious. Last time I was there, border control officials were questioning me in much detail to be sure I’m not planning to immigrate to the UK. So I landed with this feeling of being unwelcome and even though border control was easy this time, I dragged it around while I was trying to find a way to continue my journey to Folkestone. I was suspicious about kind personnel trying to help me, double checking every information they gave me. When I finally got to train to Folkestone, the question arose – what does it make you feel like a stranger – the way you are perceived, or the way you perceive others?
We were hosted in Folkestone by our partners Folkestone Fringe, who were in the middle of the Profound Sound Festival which they produce. The programming of the festival is a perfect blend of different disciplines and formats while their placement in the early hours and walking distance locations creates an atmosphere of safety while tapping into the unknown. I was surprised to see a crowd dancing wild at 9 pm to electronic act by Brassica, quite unusual timing for this kind of act. I realized soon that the audience is generally over 30, which explained it a bit. And while PS Festival is trying to attract the younger audience by giving free tickets to under 25, I wouldn’t want to change this. Back home, I get frustrated with the lack of such opportunities for the audience over 30, as one can mostly choose between being a couch potato and going out to dance after 1 am, which is a quite challenging option when you need to balance your parental, social and professional roles. Speaking of which… Cloudy Mushrooms by Ultimate Dancer and Fritz Welch reminded me of my kids’ home theatre productions and how their expression is too often forced into the frames of standards, while this performance suggests to deconstruct the frame and open it for childlike playfulness.
London Contemporary Voices have created a magical transformative experience of poetic work with people experiencing dementia. At the entrance, we were offered little paper with verses written on it, from Living Words’ book „The things between us“. We could give it to singers and they would sing it, but I’ve decided to keep it as memorabilia. Dinner was an opportunity to get to know creative community of Folkestone and to meet Susanna Howard, founder of Living Words. We talked about the show and I was happy to receive a book from her as a present. Later, when I started to read it, I wanted to check what poem do my verses from the paper belong to, I was hungry for the meaning that could come out of this. But I couldn’t remember where have I put the paper.
One of the reasons for having emerging curators’ meeting at Folkestone was to learn how Folkestone Triennial approaches the subject of art in public space. I had a chance to explore triennial works from two perspectives – first by night when I got lost with Monika and Raluca on our way from the PS festival to the hotel, where encounters with objects happened directly and unexpectedly and second one, next morning – a guided walk by our colleague Georgie Scott, who has explained us contextual layer of each work. Both perspectives were valuable, but I was most interested to find out more about the works which I could feel strongly on the first encounter, while the second one showed they are strongly rooted in current and historical local problematic and have in common an interest to mediate around sensitive issues, to contribute to the resolution of conflict which is present but perhaps not articulated as such.
I didn’t consider myself to be a curator until Virginija Vitkienie pronounced me as such at 10. Kaunas Biennial. The workshop about the methodology of curatorship practices by Lewis Biggs and Diane Dever made me more confident about this role and the tasks being given to me in the framework of the Magic Carpets project. They shared inspiring and straightforward insights about the process of getting to know the community and the energy of the places by exploring histories and social practices, by collaborating with artists to turn this knowledge into a metaphor for something bigger, something that can make communities active and engaged and above all, by having in mind that there’s no need for permission from the art world to understand the art.
Photo credits: Raluca Dorofei, Kotryna Žemaitytė and Karmen Krasić Kožul