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Promoting Collaboration

Posted on March 2, 2015

Team Spirit
Team Spirit
Sollins, Susan and Nina Castelli Sundell. Team Spirit. Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, 1990. 84 pages. 9 x 11.5 in.. Cover (top) and interior cover page (bottom).

ICI was founded in 1975 by two art world pioneers, Susan Sollins and Nina Castelli Sundell,  who together defined the vision behind one of the first organizations in the world to be dedicated to curators. Their work together shaped their understanding of how an international network of curators, artists, and art spaces could emerge through collaboration. In 1990, they co-curated the ICI exhibition Team Spirit, which reflected on their own history of working together and focused on “the growing phenomenon of collaborative art.” At the cusp of a new era of collaborative practice ushered in by Colab, the Guerrilla Girls, Gran Fury, and others, the exhibition drew a genealogy of international collaborations as a mode of production going back to the mid-1960’s, including, Equipo Cronica, General Idea, Gilbert & George, and Komar & Melamid, creating a foundation of and imperative towards collaboration that continues to this day.

Collaboration remains at the core of ICI’s approach to supporting curators and creating access to contemporary art and discourse for broad audiences. As they travel to art spaces internationally, many ICI exhibitions are the basis of collaborations with the hosting venues and curators that generate new content, even new publications, and new experiences with local audiences in mind.

ICI’s training and research programs for curators also rely on the power of working together, sharing knowledge, and learning from one another. The Curatorial Intensive is the first-ever professional development and training program to build a growing, active network of peers for continued learning among curators. Each Intensive held outside of New York City is developed by ICI with a partner institution, around ideas selected by both for their relevance to the local, regional and international contexts. Even ICI’s Research Fellowships allow curators to conduct the research that is critical to their practice in conversation with ICI staff, and with access to ICI’s international network of collaborators.


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Energizing curatorial networks, and fostering professional development around the world

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Addis Ababa
Participants of the Curatorial Intensive in Addis Ababa. May 13–19, 2014.

Recognizing the critical issues faced by emerging curators working in different contexts across the U.S. and around the world – including cost, time, and access to resources – ICI developed the Curatorial Intensive in 2010 as a weeklong, low-cost program that can take place in collaboration with art organizations around the world. As with many ICI exhibitions, the program is adapted to each local partnership, promoting a better understanding of the local context.

And just like ICI’s first exhibition catalogue in 1975 was published in Spanish and Portuguese, translation remains a critical consideration at ICI, as a way to address issues of access in the curatorial field. Since 2013, the Curatorial Intensive has been organized in 3 cities in Latin America, where it was conducted entirely in Spanish. The upcoming Intensive in Marrakech, Morocco, will be conducted in English, but also in Arabic and French, following a new model developed with our partners, Dar al-Ma’mûn, an art space whose activities include education and translation programs. In addition, key curatorial resources will be translated into French and Arabic for the first time on occasion of the program.

International iterations of ICI’s programs and the Curatorial Intensive in particular have also shown broaden access to emerging curators, as ICI recognizes opportunities are still often curtailed by borders, visas, and other political and economic factors.

Curatorial Intensive in Bogotá

Participants of the Curatorial Intensive in Bogotá. November 24–30, 2013.

Curatorial Intensive in Buenos Aires

Participants of the Curatorial Intensive in Buenos Aires. August 18–24, 2013.
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Martha Wilson

Martha Wilson, Martha Wilson as Barbara Bush, March 11, 1991. Courtesy of the artist.

Over the past 40 years, ICI has built an unparalleled network of collaborators that includes curators, artists, and art spaces of all sizes, with the goal to support independent practice locally, and encourage the sharing of independent thought across the globe. This has been true since day one, and ICI today continues to build upon this rich history of supporting independent projects.

Exemplifying this support is ICI’s current collaboration with Martha Wilson, which has roots in the late 1970s. Martha Wilson – an evolving retrospective of the artist’s work – and the Martha Wilson Sourcebook: 40 Years of Reconsidering Performance, Feminism, Alternative Spaces, continue ICI’s partnerships with the artist. Just three years after ICI was established, and at the same time as Wilson founded the alternative space Franklin Furnace, ICI produced Artists’ Books U.S.A, a unique survey exhibition of artists’ publications, co-curated by Wilson and Peter Frank. The show included well over a hundred examples of book art – showing a broad range of attitudes towards publishing, from ad-hoc to ephemeral, experimental to activist. From 1978 to 1980, it expanded the often informal distribution of these publications, reaching broad audiences in art spaces across North America. ICI has remained committed to supporting independent publishing as an artistic and curatorial practice, and regularly organizes panel discussions, events, and book launches, both at its Curatorial Hub and beyond.

Artists' Books U.S.A. Acconci Andersen

From the Artists’ Books U.S.A. catalogue, 1975.

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Supporting curators and curatorial research

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Pablo León de la Barra: Report from Central America presentation at the ICI Curatorial Hub on March 4, 2014.

Rosina Cazali Curator’s Perspective: Rosina Cazali at the New Museum on March 17, 2012.

Since 2009, ICI’s public programs and research initiatives have raised public awareness of the curatorial role and encouraged meaningful exchange in the field. Many programs have overlapped in their scope, allowing for sustained attention to be paid to specific areas of research from various perspectives. For example, in 2012 Rosina Cazali presented on her practice and the Guatemalan art scene, as part of the Curator’s Perspective talk series in New York. Her presentation introduced many to the art practice and curatorial developments in her country, and led ICI to connect with one of the most active art spaces there: Proyectos Ultravioleta.

Cazali’s talk also served as a basis from which to understand further research into the Guatemalan art scene, including that of Pablo León de la Barra, who in 2013-14 was the Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator for Latin America. Before conducting research into the region for the Guggenheim, de la Barra spent time in Central America as the first recipient of the ICI/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean. He reported on his research, including the impact the thriving Guatemalan scene had on him, at a public talk in the ICI Curatorial Hub in 2014.


2013 Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean recipient Remco de Blaaij image from his research trip to Guatemala. | Pablo José Ramirez: To Think the Impossible in the ICI Curatorial Hub on September 4, 2014. | Federico Herrero exhibition, NuMu, Guatemala City, July 2014. | Photo Credit: Remco de Blaaij.

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Generating new content, and new publications

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Boulton, Jack, & David A. Ross. VIDEO ART USA: XIII BIENAL DE SAO PAULO, OCTUBRE–DICIEMBRE DE 1975. Exh. cat. Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 1975.

As they travel to art spaces around the globe, ICI exhibitions are adapted by the presenting venues and curators to generate new content, and new experiences with local audiences in mind. An example of this is the number of publications that have been produced over the years by the presenting venues. Each publication expands the reach of the exhibition, and promotes new ideas, responses, and translations prompted by the show.

While ICI has produced catalogues in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese, art spaces presenting ICI exhibitions around the world have also produced publications in various languages to accompany and expand the curatorial projects such as FAXdo itLiving as Form (the Nomadic Version), and others.

Living As Form (Nomadic Version)

Korean and English versions: Kim, Jinjoo. Living As Form. Exh. cat. Anyang: The 4th Anyang Public Art Project: Park Library, 2013. | Akiba, Michiko, et al. Living As Form (The Nomadic Version): 20 Years of Socially Engaged Art. Exh. cat. Tokyo: Nonprofit Organization Art & Society Research Center, 2014. | Ivanova, Nevena, & Mandy Wong. Living As Form: 14 Activist Art Projects from Hong Kong and more from Videotage Media Art Collection (VMAC). Exh. cat. Hong Kong: Videotage, 2012. | Artport: Tel Aviv. Living As Form (The Nomadic Version): Socially Engaged Art In the Last 20 Years. Exh. cat. Tel Aviv: Artport, 2014.


Ribas, João. FAX. Exh. cat. New York: The Drawing Center and Independent Curators International (ICI), 2009. | Abbas, Nadim, & Álvaro Rodríguez Fominaya. FAX: The Hong Kong Works. Exh. cat. Hong Kong: Para/Site Art Space, 2010.

Power of the Word Power of the Word

Chang, Tsong-zung. Power of the Word. Exh. cat. New York: Independent Curators International (ICI), 2001. | Chang, Tsong-zung. Power of the Word. Exh. cat. Taiwan: Taiwan Museum of Art, 1999.

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EN MAS’ Featured in Gambit

Posted on March 4, 2015

Marlon Griffith, POSITIONS + POWER, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 2014. Photo: Marlon James.

The upcoming opening of EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans was recently previewed in an article by Will Coviello for Gambit. The article largely focuses on EN MAS’ curator Claire Tancons, the impetus behind the exhibition, and the specificity of Carnival and traditions of performance in the Caribbean.

“In her critical work exploring Carnival and performance art, Tancons is undertaking to reframe debates, especially vis-a-vis Eurocentric perspectives. In the rarified critical discourse on Carnival aesthetics, literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s dominating notion of the carnivalesque has always referenced medieval and early Renaissance European Carnival. Transplanting Carnival to the Caribbean in the wake of the trans-Atlantic slave trade changes the context, she says. “What do we make of the celebration of the flesh in the context of the slave trade?” Tancons asks.”

The article goes on to give a detailed description of works included in EN MAS’, including those by Marlon Griffith, Hew Locke and Cauleen Smith.

To read the full article, visit Gambit’s website, here.

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Students enact Mike Kelley’s instruction as part of do it EA

Posted on March 5, 2015

Students at Newtown Square’s Episcopal Academy have enacted Mike Kelley’s instruction Untitled (Voice): Digital Version from 2002 as part of do it EA. Organized by Susan Coote, curator of the Crawford Campus Center Gallery at the Episcopal Academy, do it EA puts this groundbreaking exhibition in the hands of pre-k through 12th grade students, their teachers, parents and the school community.

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Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5 at the University of Pittsburgh

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Students in the Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar in the exhibition Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists, University of Pittsburgh, 2015. Curators Terry Smith and Isabelle Chartier have collaborated with students in the Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar at the University of Pittsburgh to curate an expanded version of the ICI traveling exhibition Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5. Titled Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists, the exhibition widens the scope of the initial project curated by David Platzker. Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists, installation view, University of Pittsburgh, 2015. The original 40 items of Documenta 5 ephemera are displayed collectively in one room, while two consecutive rooms delve into the influential career of Harald Szeemann and present an immersive view of the art world in the 1960’s and 70’s through a curated collection of books, catalogs, and other documentary material created at the time of Documenta 5, by or about artists involved in the original 1972 exhibition. Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists, installation view, University of Pittsburgh, 2015. Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists is on view from February 24 – March 20, 2015 at the Frick Fine Arts Building at the University of Pittsburgh. For more information, visit the University of Pittsburgh’s website, here.

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Posted on March 10, 2015

Established in 2010 as an initiative of the Gerrit Lansing Education Fund, the Independent Vision Curatorial Award reflects ICI’s commitment to supporting international curators early in their careers who have shown exceptional creativity and prescience in their exhibition-making, research, and related writing. The award is given every two years to an early or mid-career curator to support their independent practice through ICI, and gives them a platform to pursue and publish their research online. The Independent Vision Curatorial Award is significant in that it is one of the very few awards in the world to recognize rising curatorial talent.

2014 Recipient: Eva Barois De Caevel

Eva Barois De Caevel received the Independent Vision Curatorial Award in 2014. Barois De Caevel was selected by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. “Eva Barois De Caevel’s unflinching curatorial practice tackles some of today’s most urgent issues, including sexuality and human rights, in a postcolonial world. Working collaboratively to encourage dialogue and participation among her audiences, with issues both local and global, she is courageously expanding the curatorial field.” –Nancy Spector Eva Barois De Caevel is assistant curator at Raw Material Company, Dakar, and works as an independent curator. She graduated from the Université de Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV in Contemporary Art History in 2011 and in Curatorial Training in 2012, with her research focusing primarily on moving images. She has been working concurrently on academic research as well as on postcolonial questions and socially engaged practices in contemporary art, and on their interaction: how socially engaged practices in contemporary art can become think tanks on postcolonial issues. Barois De Caevel completed a curatorial residency at Raw Material Company – centre for art, knowledge and society, Dakar, which consisted of conceiving a yearlong program (January 2014 to January 2015) on sexual liberties in Africa through contemporary African art. She curated the first event of the program: Who Said It Was Simple. The exhibition included screenings, debates, a performance, and a seminar. She continued her collaboration with director Koyo Kouoh, working with her on several projects, such as Body Talk – Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the Work of African Women Artists (to be held at WIELS, Brussels, in February 2015), and Streamlines, a project that makes the oceans the metaphorical focal point for an international group exhibition which will examine the cultural repercussion of the global stream of goods and trade between the South and the North (to be held at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, in October 2015). Her next projects will focus on ways of displaying colonial legacies and contemporary imperialisms in vernacular and daily elements (sexuality, language, body image, garments, food, etc.) as well as through art forms and specific curatorial tools. She was part of the first TURN Meeting On Perspectives, Facts and Fictions (June 26-28, 2014, Berlin), a project of Kulturstifung Des Bundes, Germany. The TURN fund was established in 2012 with the purpose of promoting artistic exchange and cooperation between German and African artists and institutions. She is co-founder of Cartel de Kunst, an international collective and solidarity network of emerging curators based in Paris. Read an interview between Barois De Caevel and María Del Carmen Carrión, ICI’s Director of Public Programs, here.

Nav Haq & Jay Sanders

2012 Recipients: Nav Haq & Jay Sanders

In 2012, Hans Ulrich Obrist selected Nav Haq and Jay Sanders to jointly receive the Independent Vision Curatorial Award. “Each curator is establishing a unique voice, developing their practice by initiating projects independently, as well as having worked in a diverse range of institutions. Nav Haq frequently takes us into the polyphony of art centers, creating shows and projects that broaden the scope of our thinking. Jay Sanders stays close to artists, gaining a strong understanding of an artist’s body of work—both emerging and overlooked—so that ultimately audiences can know an artist deeper.” —Hans Ulrich Obrist, October, 2012 Nav Haq has been Curator at MuHKA, Antwerp, since April 2012. From 2007–2012 he was Exhibitions Curator at Arnolfini, Bristol, and from 2004–2007 he was Curator at Gasworks, London. Haq was previously also a guest editor at Book Works, London, developing a series of artist’s books with the artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Olivia Plender. In 2011, he was a selection committee member for the British Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale. Also in 2011, he curated the inaugural MARKER section at Art Dubai, inviting experimental art organizations from across Asia and the Middle East to develop special projects for the context of the fair. Haq has also contributed to numerous periodicals including Frieze, Kaleidoscope and Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, among others. Haq has curated many solo projects with artists such as Hassan Khan, Cosima von Bonin, Shilpa Gupta, Janek Simon, Katleen Vermeir & Ronny Heiremans, Imogen Stidworthy and Kerry Tribe. Group exhibitions have included Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction, co-curated with Al Cameron (2012); Museum Show – a major historical survey of (semi-fictional) museums created by artists (2011); Magical Consciousness, co-curated with artist Runa Islam (2011); the two-person exhibition The Sea Wall presenting works by Haegue Yang and Felix Gonzalez-Torres (2011); Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie: Class Hegemony in Contemporary Art, co-curated with Tirdad Zolghadr (2006-09); and Contour Biennial 2007, Mechelen, Belgium. In collaboration with Bassam El Baroni and Jeremy Beaudry, he initiated the online project The ARPANET Dialogues. Jay Sanders is currently the Curator & Curator of Performance at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Prior to this he was Gallery Director at Greene Naftali in New York from 2005–2010 and Gallery Director at Marianne Boesky from 2000–2005. Recent curatorial projects include the 76th Whitney Biennial, co-curated with Elisabeth Sussman (2012); NUMINA Lente, a three-evening music and performance festival, Clemente Soto Velez Center, New York (April 2011); Looking Back: The Third White Columns Annual, White Columns, New York (2008); Change our fates, hobble the plague, start with time, co-curated with Paul Chan, Lyon Biennale (2007). Sanders has worked closely with a number of artists including Tony Conrad, Bernadette Corporation, John Knight, Gelitin and the Estate of Paul Sharits to develop new projects. He has also programmed performance, music, and film exhibitions at such venues as the former Whitney branch at Altria, Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, Sculpture Center, EAI, The Stone, Tonic, and for Performa. He is a member of the collaborative performance group Grand Openings, and has staged large-scale events at MoMA, the Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), MUMOK (Vienna), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Japan), and Anthology Film Archives for Performa ’05 (New York).

Doryun Chong

2010 Recipient: Doryun Chong

In 2010, Doryun Chong was selected to receive the Independent Vision Curatorial Award. At the time, Chong was the Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA. He is currently the Chief Curator of M+ Hong Kong. Chong was selected to receive the Independent Vision Curatorial Award for the recent exhibitions he has curated and co-curated in a range of venues nationally and internationally, including Bruce Nauman: Days (MoMA, 2010); Brinkmanship: Park Chan-Kyong and Sean Snyder (REDCAT, 2010) with Clara Kim; Haegue Yang: Integrity of the Insider (Walker Art Center, 2009–10); Tetsumi Kudo: Garden of Metamorphosis (Walker Art Center, 2008–9); Brave New Worlds (Walker Art Center, 2007) with Yasmil Raymond; and the 2006 Busan Biennial. Through these exhibitions Chong has not only demonstrated multiple, global understandings of artworks and their contexts, but also an unusual eloquence in the possibilities of display and discourse. Chong’s innovative research skills draw on several Asian and Romance languages and his training in Western European and East Asian philosophy and art history. Considered the top translator of writing on contemporary art from Korea, Chong is also responsible for the groundbreaking lexicon on artist Huang Yong Ping’s complex web of meanings, intentions, history, conflict, and culture. Read an interview with Chong and ICI’s Director-at-Large Kate Fowle here.

Photos from the Event: Naomi Beckwith

Photos from the Event: Contemporary Art in Guatemala

Posted on March 14, 2015

Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5 reviewed in Trib Live

Posted on March 17, 2015

Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists at the University of Pittsburgh, 2015. Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists, on view at the University of Pittsburgh through March 20, 2015, was recently reviewed by Kurt Shaw for Trib Live. The article begins by describing the career of influential curator Harald Szeemann and the ongoing significance of the original Documenta 5, quoting curator Terry Smith:

‘Documenta 5′ was the breakthrough mega-exhibition — that is, the first large-scale survey of contemporary art organized according to a number of subthemes within the larger idea of mapping how art was responding to current social and political change.

The article then delves into the three-fold curatorial approach of Smith and his students, and outlines the additional works procured by the class for the expanded exhibition:

“A sense that any exhibition, no matter how large and important, has a pre-history (the first room), a curatorial intelligence behind it (the Szeemann room at the back), and that the artists in the show are both part of the exhibition, but also have independent careers that are what art is really about (the artists’ rooms),” Smith says. Smith and his students asked five local collectors to loan pieces by a few of the original exhibiting artists, including Jasper Johns, Ed Kienholz, Alfred Jensen, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, Joseph Kosuth, Art & Language, Lawrence Weiner, Hanne Darboven and Paul Thek.

To read the full article, visit Trib Live’s website, here.

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Push Play artists Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin included in the 56th Venice Biennale

Posted on March 20, 2015

Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, L’Echiqueté (Checkered Chess), 2012. Pieces and chessboard. Photo: Olive Martin.

The Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale will present the work of Push Play artists Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, as part of the project by Belgian artist Vincent Meessen. Meesen’s proposal, selected to represent Belgium at the Biennale, opposes the pavillion’s traditional representation by solo or duo exhibitions by Belgian artists. Titled Personne et les autres, the project rather presents a thematic group exhibition, organized by Meessen in collaboration with curator Katerina Gregos, and includes works by selected group of international artists including L’Echiqueté, 2012, by Bernier and Martin.

The work L’Echiqueté, included in the ICI exhibition Push Play, is a variant of the game of chess, whereby during play the pawns are not captured from the playing board, but rather change color from black or white into black and white. According to the website Normal:

“This complex work is an inventive and sophisticated comment on the hybridity and cross-mixing engendered by colonial relations and encounters, and will be accompanied by a tapestry and two photographs.”

The work will be on view in Belgian Pavillion at the Venice Biennale through November 22, 2015.

To read the full description, visit the Normal‘s website, here.

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Photos from the Event: Dread Scott and Ryan Wong

Posted on March 23, 2015