“China doesn’t have a rooted curatorial tradition. We don’t have the traditional art foundations and donations. In art institutions, which in China have only been around a couple of years, there is still some trouble reconciling the work between that of the curator and that of the management department. On the other hand, the development of Chinese art curation is very fast and promises a lot of chances. It can be odd, irregular, without many restrictions or taboos—breaking boundaries, which is actually a good thing.” — Qiu Zhijie, artist curator
In this section artist curators who work internationally will describe their own situations. It should be noted that those interviewed are not working in the commercial sector with private galleries and museums and the projects described are ‘not for profit’ collaborations.
For many Western practitioners (in all fields) the most striking feature of the Chinese art scene is the way in which everything seems to be organised not just at the last minute, but actually well after the last minute has passed. The speed at which things are organized, is both admirable on the one hand but borderline mad on the other, advance planning and preparation often has to be jettisoned in favour of improvisation.
Equally many artist curators like Brendan Jamison are concerned about the narrowness and ‘cliquishness’ of local art galleries and organizations which make it difficult for artists to develop an international practice and a more diverse network. No matter how difficult it can be to work internationally, the very act of travelling to another place, leaving one’s comfort zone is a valuable way of developing and maturing for artist curators.
The major challenges when curating exhibitions internationally remain those of:
- logistics i.e. freight in particular
- funding – most countries concentrate on funding projects within their own national boundaries
- different expectations of local partners
- lack of reciprocity often caused by unequal funding opportunities