Communicating Through Exhibitions

Actions: What You Can Do With the City, installation view, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2008
© CCA, Montréal

 

Our questionnaire to Ariadna Cantis, Elias Redstone, Felipe Chaimovich, Michael Kubo, Mirko Zardini, Pedro Gadanho, Vladimir Belogolovsky, and Zoë Ryan.

 

We all remember that one exhibition that blew our mind. The one that challenged all of our preconceptions and that introduced us to a new world that we did not know existed or was even possible. That exhibition was the result of the incredible work of the artist but also the expertise of the curator in presenting that work in the best way possible.

To know more about the curatorial process, here are the responses to the questionnaire we sent to international curators Ariadna Cantis, Elias Redstone, Felipe Chaimovich, Michael Kubo, Mirko Zardini, Pedro Gadanho, Vladimir Belogolovsky, and Zoë Ryan.

 

IKEA disobedients by Andrés Jaque, Performance & Arquitectura curated by Ariadna Cantis, Tabacalera Madrid, November 2011
© Jorge López Conde

 

ARIADNA CANTIS

Current position
I am a freelance independent curator of architecture and urbanism.

Path to becoming a curator
I studied architecture in Madrid. For a long time, I have been working on investigating new exhibition formats, as well as incorporating new strategies of communication applied to the diffusion of architecture.

First exhibition
My first project of international repercussion: FRESHMADRID.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
Each exhibition is a specific case in which there is a container, content, and a message that, after conceptualizing it, you look for the best way of communicating it.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
Spanish Pavilion at the International Venice Architecture Biennale.

Exhibition you would love to curate
Transforming Madrid, showing the main urban transformations of the city.

Next show
Freshlatino 02 (Cervantes Institute) and Performing Architecture in New York in 2013 (Storefront for Art and Architecture during the Festival of Ideas for The New City).

When not curating
I investigate new formats and new tools for communication. I also write for several media.

Favorite communication tool
I use them all. I work online combining content from cell phones, webcams… and social networks.

 

Archizines, The Architectural Association, London, 2011
© Photo courtesy Sue Barr / The AA School

 

ELIAS REDSTONE

Current position
I work as a freelance curator, writer and editor. I am currently curating ARCHIZINES – a touring exhibition of new architecture magazines, fanzines and journals from around the world – and launching a new gallery that will explore the relationship between architecture and photography. I am also one of the contributors to the British Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Path to becoming a curator
I wanted to exhibit architecture in more compelling ways than I was seeing in London at the time, launched a temporary gallery for the Architecture Foundation. And before I knew it I was a curator.

First exhibition
The first exhibition I curated was Hairywood, an installation by 6a Architects and fashion designers Eley Kishimoto, in 2005. It was a plywood tower that combined pattern and architecture. Part lookout tower, part urban summerhouse. I loved it and it was later rebuilt in London’s Covent Garden Piazza three years later for the London Festival of Architecture.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
It depends on the exhibition. It can be anything from an idea to an experience, but mostly I am trying change people’s perceptions of architecture in some way.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
In 2007 Hauser & Wirth gallery commissioned Christoph Büchel’s Simply Botiful for the temporary Coppermill warehouse venue in London. He created an apocalyptic landscape of discarded consumer goods and migrant workers. I took several friends to see that show – it was phenomenal.

Exhibition you would love to curate
I’m working on this at the moment…

Next show
The ARCHIZINES exhibition is touring to Paris, Brussels, Dublin, Bratislava, Melbourne, Sydney, Santiago, Tokyo, Kyoto and more…

When not curating
I’m catching up on writing deadlines or DJing with a friend at a pub in east London.

Favorite communication tool
I am a big fan of email and am increasingly using Skype for meetings. That said, nothing beats meeting and talking in person. Just never send any important messages on facebook!

 

Garden Festival of MAM at Ibirapuera Park, 2010
© Photo courtesy of Felipe Chaimovich

 

FELIPE CHAIMOVICH

Current position
Curator of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo.

Path to becoming a curator
Ph.D. in Philosophy, Universidade de São Paulo, teaching aesthetics for groups of artists in São Paulo, writing catalogue essays for friends.

First exhibition
Ouro de artista (“Artist’s gold”), Casa Triângulo/ Projeto Leonilson, São Paulo, 1996.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
I try to communicate that a space for contemporary art must challenge the repressive practices of regular museums and art galleries.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
Laurent Le Bon, Parade, 2001.

Exhibition you would love to curate
Versailles Off.

Next show
Wolfgang Tillmans, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo.

When not curating
Teaching.

Favorite communication tool
My body.

 

In Form: Communicating Boston, BSA Space, Boston, 2012
© Photo courtesy of Michael Kubo

 

MICHAEL KUBO

Current position
Director of pinkcomma gallery in Boston, with Chris Grimley and Mark Pasnik. This year we are also guest curators at BSA Space, the gallery of the Boston Society of Architects.

Path to becoming a curator
Circuitous. I’m trained as an architect, but my professional background has been in architectural publishing; book projects eventually led to exhibitions, which has often allowed me to work across both formats and their differences in audience, duration, reception, etc.

First exhibition
Actar: An Editorial Project 1994-2006, at the Van Alen Institute in November, 2006.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
What’s important to me is for (our) exhibitions to be understood as formats for producing knowledge: the exhibition should be a content-driven site of discourse (discussion, speculation, critique) around matters of concern, not a stage for creating “atmospheres” or fleeting architectural spectacles.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
Transformations in Modern Architecture, Arthur Drexler, MoMA, 1979.

Exhibition you would love to curate
A major retrospective on the history of print culture in architecture, from the Renaissance treatise to the present.

Next show
Let’s Talk about Bikes, at BSA Space in June.

When not curating
Resuming my normal life as a PhD student.

Favorite communication tool
Language.

 

Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, installation view with Cow by Andy Byers, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2011
© CCA, Montréal

 

MIRKO ZARDINI

Current position
Director and Chief Curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Canada.

Path to becoming a curator
It has been quite an erratic path; an unintentional swing between practicing, teaching, and editorial work that gradually led to curating.

First exhibition
(a) Asfalto: Il Carattere Della Città, an exhibition for the Triennale di Milano, Italy, in 2003.

What do you try to communicate in your exhibitions
Architecture has been the “voluntary prisoner” of an “iconic bubble” for the last twenty years. Today, however, the problems posed by the various “crises,” from the environmental to the social, offer new possibilities for intervention. They suggest new roles and responsibilities, compel new reflections, and require building a different platform for contemporary architecture to work on.

I am interested in questioning and relooking at the assumptions on which architects operate today. For example, at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), we have embarked on the study and revision of an undeclared territory of false assumptions, preconceptions, and attitudes in an attempt to evidence hidden agendas. We seek to investigate and explore this “grey zone” of contemporary culture, contemporary society, and contemporary architecture to critically expose its contradictions.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
Harold Szeemann’s Monte Verità: the Breast of Truth in Ascona, Switzerland, 1979.

Exhibition you would love to curate
An exhibition entitled Death exploring the construction of ideas and environments around artificial struggles seeking to avoid – or delay as much as possible – this inescapable event.

Next show
We are working on a travelling version of Imperfect Health: the Medicalization of Architecture.

When not curating
I like watching TV Series; they portray contexts, ideologies, and attitudes in a very precise way.

Favorite communication tool
Exhibitions. And handwritten letters.

 

Pancho Guedes, An Alternative Modernist, Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel, 2007
© Photo courtesy of Pedro Gadanho

 

PEDRO GADANHO

Current position
Curator of Contemporary Architecture at Architecture and Design Department, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), NY.

Path to becoming a curator
Exhibition design and a very close, ongoing contact to the contemporary art world.

First exhibition
Post-Rotterdam, Architecture And City After Tabula Rasa, European Capital of Culture (2001), Porto.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
What architecture is all about: content, ideas and practice rather than forms, objects and buildings.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
Emergent Megalopolis, one of those ambitious life projects that always gets pushed to the future.

Exhibition you would love to curate
The Future Itself.

Next show
Ways of Being Political, MoMA, September 2012.

When not curating
Writing. And all that comes with a full life.

Favorite communication tool
Email.

 

Green House, Central Exhibition Hall Manezh, Moscow, Russia
International Architectural Festival Zodchestvo,2009
© Sarika Bajoria

 

VLADIMIR BELOGOLOVSKY

Current position
Founder and frontrunner of New York-based Intercontinental Curatorial Project.

Path to becoming a curator
Graduated from Cooper Union School of Architecture (1996); worked as an architect in Madrid, Berlin, and New York (1996-2008); have been writing critical essays on architecture and conducting interviews with visionaries from around the world.

First exhibition
Chess Game exhibition for the Russian Pavilion at the 11th Architecture Venice Biennale in 2008.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
A good exhibition is about telling a great story – to evoke numerous impressions and to impose no conclusions.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
1932 The International Style exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York by Henry Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson. I would advice the curators to include the built works by Russian constructivists Konstantin Melnikov, Moisei Ginzburg, and Sergei Serafimov. I would also suggest adding “ism” to the word “International” and dropping the word “Style” in the exhibition’s title.

Exhibition you would love to curate
Unquestionably the Venice Biennale remains to be the ultimate dream project for any curator. Perhaps in the future it will be in the hands of curators like myself to compose new instant cities at the new frontiers. To be able to handpick architects for building such a city from scratch would be another cool project.

Next show
An exhibition on life and work of Australian architect Harry Seidler. It will tour Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia from 2012 to 2015.

When not curating
I am a full time independent curator and therefore curating is a never stopping affair. I love meeting inventive individuals; organizing my own lectures at far-reaching corners of the globe; writing books; and enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter at our beach-front home in Brooklyn, New York and on carefree holidays in warmer climates.

Favorite communication tool
I have seen people breaking into tears after reading just one line of text. Words, images, and life-scale installations can be more powerful than the most sophisticated representational devices that often do nothing but obscure what is intimate, truthful, and emotional.

 

Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design, Art Institute of Chicago, 2009
© The Art Institute of Chicago

 

ZOE RYAN

Current position
John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, Department of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago

Path to becoming a curator
BA and MA degrees in the history of art. Internships at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in the Prints, within the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, where I assisted with the Power of the Poster exhibition (1998). I also interned at the Museum of Modern Art, New York within the Department of Architecture and Design. I assisted with Projects 66 (1998), an exhibition that explored the work of Ingo Maurer and Humberto and Fernando Campana, designers from Germany and Brazil, respectively. I have been fortunate to have great mentors. Early mentors were Margaret Timmers at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Paola Antonelli at MoMA, who continues to be a great friend and mentor, and has helped me enormously in steering my path. Raymond W. Gastil and Joseph Rosa have also been influential to me and great sources of inspiration.

First exhibition
My first exhibition was one I co-curated with Raymond W. Gastil at the Van Alen Institute in New York, titled Information Exchange: How Cities Renew, Rebuild and Remember (2002). It was organized after September 11, 2001, and set out to illustrate how seven other international cities had come back after both man-made and natural disasters.

The first exhibition I initiated and curated alone at the Van Alen Institute was The Good Life: New Public Spaces of Recreation (2006). The exhibition was presented on Pier 40 on the Hudson River and illustrated how cities are being re-envisioned to accommodate more diverse recreational spaces to meet changing needs.

My first exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago was a solo show of the work of Graphic Thought Facility, innovative graphic designers from London. This was their first solo show in the States and the first contemporary graphic design exhibition at the Art Institute.

What you try to communicate in your exhibitions
My goal is to further an understanding and appreciation of architecture and design. Through my exhibitions and writing, I aim to reveal and explain the processes, theories, methods, and approaches that define these disciplines as a way to open them up for broader discussion. I aim to present inventive projects that act as examples that help explain the pivotal role designers and architects play in shaping the world around us, but also how their work helps us engage with and understand our place within that world at specific periods of time.

Exhibition you wish you had curated
This is Tomorrow (Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1956)

Exhibition you would love to curate
An exhibition that explores new directions in landscape architecture, a component part of which will explore how real and virtual landscapes are informing one another and redefining the field. This is an exhibition that I am currently researching, so watch this space.

Next show
I just opened Fashioning the Object: Bless, Boudicca, and Sandra Backlund, an exhibition that explores the work of these three visionary fashion design studios, which closes on September 13, 2012. I am currently co-curating Studio Gang: Workshop, a mid-career survey of the work of this Chicago architecture studio headed by Jeanne Gang. This opens September 23, 2012.

When not curating
Exploring. Being even more curious.

Favorite communication tool
Word-of-mouth.

 

Ariadna Cantis is an architectural curator, critic and author. Her work focuses on the communication and dissemination of urban planning, architecture and design. Divides herself between the promotion, research and commissioning of architecture and contemporary culture engaging herself in various projects, exhibitions and publications, in order to generate a critical dialogue on the limits of architecture.
www.ariadnacantis.com | @aricantis

Elias Redstone is an independent curator, writer, editor and consultant based in London and Paris. He is the founder and curator of ARCHIZINES, the editor-in-chief of the London Architecture Diary and an online columnist for the New York Times’ T Magazine. Previously, Elias was the curator of the Polish Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, hub curator of the 2008 London Festival of Architecture and senior curator at the Architecture Foundation.
www.eliasredstone.com | www.archizines.com

Felipe Chaimovich is the curator of the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo. He was the curator of 29º Panorama da Arte Brasileira (MAM-SP, 2005), “Ecológica” (MAM-SP, 2010) and the MAM Festival of Gardens in Ibirapuera (2010). He is the author of several books and articles including Iran do Espírito Santo (São Paulo: Cosac e Naify, 2000) and “Objects or Reflexion: Brazilian cultural situation,” in On Cultural Influence (New York: Apexart, 2006).
www.mam.org.br | @MAMoficial

Michael Kubo is a writer and editor currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture at MIT. His research focuses on topics such as history of publishing as a strategic form of architectural practice and the Cold War architecture of the RAND Corporation. He is also the director (along with Chris Grimley and Mark Pasnik) of pinkcomma gallery in Boston.
www.pinkcomma.com | @microkubo

Mirko Zardini is the director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture and an architect whose research, writings, and design projects engage the transformations of contemporary architecture and its relationship with the city and landscape. Editor of Casabella magazine from 1983 to 1988 and Lotus international from 1988 to 1999, Mr. Zardini also served on the editorial board of Domus.
www.cca.qc.ca | @ccawire

Pedro Gadanho is an architect, curator and writer currently based in New York. He is the Curator for Contemporary Architecture at the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, in New York. He was the editor-in-chief of Beyond, Short Stories on the Post-Contemporary – a bookazine started in 2009 through Sun Architecture, and he is the author of
Arquitectura em Público (Dafne, 2011).
www.moma.org | shrapnelcontemporary.wordpress.com | @pedrogadanho

Vladimir Belogolovsky is the founder of the Intercontinental Curatorial Project with a focus on organizing, curating, and designing architectural exhibitions worldwide. Trained as an architect at Cooper Union, he has published several books as well as over 150 articles appearing in American, European, and Russian publications.
www.curatorialproject.com

Zoë Ryan is the Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since going to the Art Institute in 2006, Ryan has curated several exhibitions and authored accompanying exhibition catalogues: Graphic Thought Facility: Resourceful Design (2008); Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design (2009); and, with Joseph Rosa, Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design (2010)
www.artic.edu/aic | @artinstitutechi

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