The canons of art history are fluid and changing. And it’s the role of curators to come in, make sense of it all, and present a picture of where art will head next. They act as stewards, activate ideas, draw connections, bring attention to lesser-known artists and overlooked regions, and highlight topics that warrant deeper conversation. And as political and social mores continue to shift, acting as a dedicated arts connoisseur is only part of the job description. For many curators, their posts come with the responsibility of mediating between three active players: artists, institutions, and the public.
Here, we take a look at the next wave of influential decision-makers in institutions, independent project spaces, and galleries across Europe who are expanding definitions of what art is, and what it can be.
Since taking the reins as director and curator of Kunsthalle Basel, Los Angeles-born Filipovic has produced one elegantly executed exhibition after another, featuring artists such as Vincent Fecteau, solo show by Anicka Yi, which visitors to last summer’s Art Basel in Basel flocked to in droves. A scholar with hip and prescient taste, Filipovic dedicated her Ph.D. studies at Princeton (supervised by Hal Foster), to the life’s work of WIELS that traveled to Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, and Fondation Beyeler. Filipovic has come a long way since co-curating the 5th Berlin Biennale along with Adam Szymczyk, the current Documenta 14 artistic director. And her tightly curated shows of singular voices are only getting better. Future solos to watch out for in Basel are with
Samman has a knack for projecting into the future, slicing through junctures of technology and environment, identity and community, claiming, “Art is a game we play across generations, and in partnership with people we might never meet in person.” It’s a game for which he chooses to set his own rules. It’s already been a busy year for Samman. His catalogue for “Rare Earth,” an exhibition in 2015 at Vienna’s TBA21 that included artists Steve Turner and features some of the hottest young artists to emerge from Berlin in the past few years:
Cameroonian independent curator and biotechnologist Ndikung opened the art “laboratory of form-ideas,” SAVVY Contemporary, in 2010 to further dialogues about the North-South cultural divide with exhibitions focused on post-colonial, anthropological, and socio-psychological studies. He is known best for organizing multi-dimensional and satellite projects such as “If You Are So Smart, Why Ain’t You Rich?” during the 2014 Marrakech Biennial, or the exhibition “Giving Contours to Shadows,” which brought together artists such as
Post-humanism, post-capitalism, feminism, and quality of life in post-digital society are all hot topics for curator, researcher, and publisher Farkas. As founding director of the progressive London gallery and project space Arcadia Missa, she has premiered shows with vanguard artists like ICA London yielded the substantive publication Re-Materialising Feminism. Her next exhibition, “Ways of Living,” co-curated with Zhoe Granger for DRAF in London, looks at artist practices outside the gallery—in society and in their homes—where artists
Independent curator Üstek is best known for her 2015 project, “fig-2,” in which she revived curators Mark Francis and Jay Jopling’s 2000 pop-up exhibition exercise, “fig-1,” exhibiting 50 solo artists in sequence over 50 weeks. Functioning in the same spirit, Üstek’s high-octane series of commission-based projects showed a continuous turnover of exhibitions by 60 artists (some collaborations) over the course of 50 weeks. Including the likes of
Michael Novotný is an essentialist when it comes to valuing art—using the exhibition format as an atmospheric stage and focusing his energy on commissioning two artists at a time to create parallel solo projects. For the past five years, he has worked with the Prague nonprofit space FUTURA, hosting exhibitions with international and local artists like
The fictions underpinning power structures, cultural hegemonies, and sovereignty lay the groundwork for Ballet’s exhibitions. Highlighting the need for more social responsibility in the arts, she states, “I think curators are important in defining [an] attitude, which is something that starts with ourselves.” Ballet’s politics are laid bare in a four-part series, “Our Ocean, Your Horizon,” analyzing the ocean as a non-sovereign space, which nonetheless is an essential playing field for displays of military might and the exercise of global trade, with solo presentations by artists
For each of their exhibitions, young curatorial duo KM Temporaer make a point of inviting a third voice or “actor” to participate. Questioning modes of co-authorship is a focal point of their work ethic. And for KM Temporaer, collaborative working methods are foregrounded in their exhibitions as much as the themes, artworks, and artists they deal with. They hope to challenge the boundaries of their own practice in the same way contemporary artists they admire “operate on the margins of the concept of art.” Their current exhibition “I Pledge Allegiance” at On Stellar Rays in New York features a group of boundary-pushing artists, including
As director of Rupert Centre for Arts and Education since 2014, Jonutytė has focused her attention on offsetting disparities for exhibiting local and international artists in the region, with a particular focus on closing the disparity between exhibitions by male and female artists. “I think it is very important to support women artists in the field, especially mothers, as it is more difficult for them to travel and have an international career,” she says, citing her experience working with a pregnant
Gritz is pushing the field of film and performance forward by rethinking formats for presenting time-based work. “Performance and event-based works are especially fertile grounds for disclosing the production of identities as actions, encounters, and events, instead of fixed entities,” she says of her focus, which most recently manifested itself in the exhibition “Duh? Art & Stupidity,” co-curated with Paul Clinton for Focal Point Gallery in Southend-on-Sea. Gritz helped commission and curate film sections for the OPEN SOURCE contemporary arts festival in East London and the Material Art Fair in Mexico City. In the past year, she left her mark as curator of film & performance at South London Gallery, with exhibitions featuring
Mugaas helped found Kunsthall Stavanger in 2013, and has since hosted a colorful lineup of local and international contemporary artists—
“We should forget that art is an isolated thing,” says Gygax, curator of the Migros Museum, who recently completed his Ph.D. from the University of Berne. Alongside preparations for Frieze London 2016, where he’s been appointed as the new curator of Frieze Projects, Gygax is researching the plasticity of the brain—a concept in line with his current exhibition at the Migros Museum, which spotlights the work of
Artist careers don’t launch themselves—it requires an audience who believes in the work. And at contemporary salon SALTS, Swiss curator and director Leuenberger presents solo and group shows by young international artists—like
French-born independent curator Boukobza helms the residency program of the art research project 89plus at the Lab of the Google Cultural Institute in Paris—under the auspices of Simon Castets and Hans-Ulrich Obrist. (She refers to the duo as “SCHUO”.) Young artists, architects, and graphic designers are invited to use the Google Art Project archives, work with technologies like 3D printers and interactive screens, and learn from Google engineers. As part of her role at 89plus, Boukobza contributes to development of larger exhibitions such as “CO-WORKERS—Network as Artists” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, outlining artists’ relationships to “The Internet of Things” and “Ambient Intelligence,” while continuing independent projects like “Mon Horizontalité” at Galerie Untilthen, bringing together artists like
Think the internet has taken over our minds? Well, so does Sielewicz, curator of the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, who’s trying to figure out what to do about the massive hangover our internet addictions are causing. She achieved this with her recent survey exhibition “Private Settings. Art After the Internet,” which included
According to Ayas, director of Rotterdam’s Witte de With, public programs are critical to her mission at the institution. “My program involves artists but as much so lawyers, economists, journalists, archaeologists, theologians, philosophers, and novelists who proactively engage with the various faces of crisis today, including all new forms of activism spurring the world,” she says. In 2015, Ayas organized an extensive three-part exhibition series, “Art In The Age Of...,” investigating the future of art production, the circulation of art and its infrastructure, and covering topics from energy and raw materials to asymmetric warfare and planetary computation. In honor of Witte de With’s recent 25th anniversary, Ayas has tapped Rotterdam-based artist duo
Vickers is leading the charge when it comes to employing progressive digital communication systems and alternative models for community engagement. In 2014, he co-initiated the tech idealist project unMonastery, “a social clinic for the future” founded in Matera, Italy. Last fall, Vickers launched Serpentine Radio for broadcasting the “Transformation Marathon” in his role as Curator of Digital for the Serpentine Galleries, where he spearheads Digital Commissions. And in the beginning of 2016, he co-curated the talks program on post-digital culture for the Transmediale. Describing his curatorial approach, Vickers states, “I am interested in how emergent identities, roles, and strict work-based rule-sets can be adopted to transform the way in which we live and act in the world.” Combining his interest in technology and social interaction, Vickers is working on a digital commission with
Durmuşoğlu is crisscrossing the globe, drawing unexpected relationships between different “circles of thought.” After contributing to Public Programs for dOCUMENTA (13), she went on to participate in several research networks at the nomadic incubator The Moving Museum Istanbul. Durmuşoğlu has also participated in the Goethe-Institute’s initiative “Museal Episode” that focused on the future of museums as well as the “Critical Writing Ensemble” led by OCA and the Dhaka Art Summit. Durmuşoğlu is committed to using the gallery as “a space for envisioning roles of learning and unlearning.” The approach is evident in her current shows, such as
Gruijthuijsen co-founded Amsterdam’s Kunstverein in 2009 before moving on to serve as the artistic director of the Grazer Kunstverein in Austria in 2012. In July, the Dutch curator will again shift posts to become director of Berlin’s KW Institute of Contemporary Art. Evidenced by his 2015 exhibition of work by
Pairing “practice and theory” is how Folkerts describes his approach. He worked as coordinator of the Curatorial Programme at de Appel arts centre before taking on the position of curator of performance, film, and discursive programs at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Since being invited by artistic director Adam Szymczyk to join the curatorial team for Documenta 14, Folkerts has exclusively devoted his time to conducting research trips, site visits, and initiating conversations between artists and fellow colleagues, to develop what he calls an “ensemble of thought.” More specifically, he is lending his expertise of temporal/ephemeral, and non-material qualities of performance to broaden definitions of the exhibition format.