Curators To Watch in 2015, as Chosen by Art-World Insiders
Pablo León de la Barra
Selected as a Guggenheim UBS Map curator-in-residence, Mexico-born Pablo León de la Barra curated “Under the Same Sun: Art From Latin America Today” at New York’s Guggenheim this year, focusing on contemporary art and artists from Latin America. It received mixed reviews, but Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times, “Unrelaxed is an accurate description of the show as a whole, which, though visually low key, has lots of movement, real and potential.” It was also announced this year that de la Barra will assume the directorship of the Casa França Brasil in Rio de Janeiro.
A New York-based, art collective made up of Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso, and David Toro, DIS has been selected to curate the 2016 Berlin Biennial. Associated with digital-art luminaries like Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, DIS runs a magazine and organizes site-specific installation and interventions, among other activities. In a statement about their selection, the Biennial Foundation noted, “DIS explores the tension between popular culture and institutional critique, while facilitating projects for the most public and democratic of all forums—the internet.”
A major figure in the arts for well over a decade, Okwui Enwezor is known for giving a platform to black artists, thereby redressing the art world’s racial bias. Serving as the director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst since 2011 and having numerous biennial curatorships to his name, Enwezor has been appointed as Director of the Visual Arts sector of the 2015 Venice Biennale. As a recent Wall Street Journal article notes, “between the [Stan] Douglas show, the museum’s retrospective of works by the mixed-media artist Ellen Gallagher earlier this year and a 2013 show of the photographer Lorna Simpson’s work, the Haus der Kunst will have already presented nearly as many major solo shows of black artists as the Museum of Modern Art in New York has in the past 20 years.”
Founding Director and Chief Curator of L.A.’s 4,500-square-foot Mistake Room—a name about which you’ve likely heard murmurs reverberating through the art world—Cesar Garcia (formerly at LAXART) launched the non-profit art space in a former garment factory in downtown L.A. this year with a pop-up exhibition from Oscar Murillo, followed a few months later by a show of Korakrit Arunanondchai’s work. Garcia has big ambitions for the space as a platform for international artists and to expand the visibility of L.A. artists; he will bring three curators to the space from other countries for short residencies each year and hopes to collaborate with cutting-edge spaces around the world.
A veteran of the New Museum (where she led its Museum as Hub program and its 2012 triennial) and current director at Brazil’s Instituto Inhotim in Brumadinho, Eungie Joo will curate the Sharjah Biennial in 2015. She was also a founding director at L.A.’s REDCAT and served as commissioner of the 2009 Korean Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale.
A curator at London’s excellent Whitechapel Gallery, Omar Kholeif specializes in film and video work, emerging technologies, and Middle Eastern art. In 2015 he will curate the New York Armory Show’s Focus section, highlighting art from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean; the Abraaj Group Art Prize; and the Cyprus Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. A prolific writer, Kholeif is also a senior editor at Ibraaz Publishing.
ArtReview’s 2014 Power 100 list calls Adriano Pedrosa “Brazil’s preeminent independent curatorial voice abroad.” Noted for a 2013 open-submission exhibition at White Cube Mason’s Yard, as well as two large-scale shows that coincided with the 2014 São Paulo Biennale, Pedrosa is set to take the helm of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo as its new artistic director.
Polish curator, writer, recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement, and director of the Kunsthalle in Basel, Adam Szymczyk was selected this year as the Artistic Director of documenta 14, which is scheduled to take place between Athens and Kassel in 2017. Speaking of Szymczyk’s work, the director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery Iwona Blazwick once said, “if you go to the Kunsthalle Basel you are always sure of a big surprise, that is his hallmark.”
Tess Thackara is Artsy’s Writer-at-Large.