Matt Packer, a Curator and Writer based in Northern Ireland, presents a lecture on the theme of ‘Future North: curating in the periphery of Northern Europe‘ at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum City Museum in Mumbai on 28 July. After successful presentations in Kolkata and Delhi, he shares his experience of dealing with artists and individuals across borders and contexts.
How are galleries in Northern Ireland different from those in Norway?
Northern Ireland and northern Norway are very different contexts, with very different geographies, economic opportunities, and of course political histories. What they share is that they’re ‘marginal’ contexts, both in a European context, as well as within their respective national context. Northern Ireland or Northern Norway also share a lack of an art market and the lack of other artistic infrastructures such as large collecting-based institutions and native critical art press.
What has been your experience from curating for these two countries?
In fact, many of the conversations that have developed in one context have extended to another. Artists such as Anna Adahl, Ciaran O’Dochartaigh, Katja Novitskova, have all been part of Centre for Contemporary Art’s, Northern Ireland, recent exhibition programme, but will also be producing new work for Lofoten International Arts Festival 2015, Norway. Some overlaps across contexts, is important; just as it’s important to maintain close working relationships with artists over time. Of course, CCA and LIAF have different mandates, so in CCA you’ll regularly see artists with a connection to NI, and at LIAF you’ll see a prominence of Scandinavian artists.
How important is geographical location of countries on their impact in the Arts?
I think geographical context still plays a large part in defining the opportunities and possibilities for artistic and curatorial practice, despite increasing internationalism. For me, the geographical contexts of Derry~Londonderry or the Lofoten Islands provide essential points of connection and application to the discourses and practices of contemporary art. The international art world is often evoked, but it needs to be remembered that there is no such place. Instead, it’s a world that is built by many different geographies and many different voices.
What has been your experience of curatorial practises in India?
I am new to the Indian context, so I am certainly not qualified to determine what India needs to learn. I am aware that the art market is developing at a rapid rate that is out-of-pace with the institutional practices and powers of the public institutions in the country. I think that efforts like the Experimenter Curator’s Hub in Kolkata are ways to re-address that, building a more critical and curatorial ‘ecology’ for contemporary art in the country, which will ultimately benefit both artists and the public.
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