Curator Talks: Luca Lo Pinto
C-print speaks to curator Luca Lo Pinto of the excellent Kunsthalle Wien about recent exhibitions and his interest in offering experiences that are marked partly by potentiality and chance, noting that he himself too, looks to be surprised as a result of the exhibition-making process as curator.
Luca Lo Pinto. Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani
C-P: Kunsthalle Wien strikes me as one of the conceptually most forward and boundary-pushing art institutions in Europe. I love the possibilities afforded to Kunsthalle based on having exhibition premises extending to two venues in the city, and also appreciate how the exhibitions consistently are marked by a sense of novelty and unpredictibility. As a curator, what are your objectives with your exhibitions in relation to your public?
L.L.P: To place my self and the audience in an unsafe position. It’s a kind of intellectual exercise where I first tend to navigate in a land governed by the uncertainty and then slowly walking back with a different awareness. I am interested in art and anything else that can provide different points of views on the world we inhabit. Exhibition-making is a cultural tool still full of potentiality. If you compare an exhibition to a novel, the institution is the publisher. More and more often publishers are opting for safe choices. Institutions like Kunsthalle are important because they should take risks, they should experiment without constrictions taking in consideration also the idea of failure. This is what a public funded institution should aim for: producing alternative discourses, models and formats.
Installation view: Camille Henrot. If Wishes Were Horses
C-P: Vienna is among the cites in Europe that really has a longstanding history of arts and culture and I realize many people tend to associate Vienna with art in a more traditional realm. With people less acquainted to the city, there often seems to be a surprise as far as the density of the contemporary art found there is concerned. What might be worth noting about Vienna in this regard?
L.L.P: Vienna offers an incredible rich and wide variety of cultural offers. Kunsthistorisches is one of the top ten museums in the world. Then you have Belvedere, Albertina, MAK, Mumok and institutions with a more experimental profile such as the Kunsthalle. Personally I’m a big fan of the Film Museum, which has been led by a great director such as Alexander Horwath. Vienna produces also an important number of festivals such as ImPulsTanz, Viennale and Wiener Festwochen. Nonetheless, I feel there is a discrepancy between what the city offers and its reception. I guess Vienna is a city still founded on a strong social welfare system and culture is considered one of the many benefits given to the community. In a certain way I’m convinced that the Viennese don’t realize how extraordinary and unique this scenario actually is.
(Above) Installation view One, No One and One Hundred Thousand, Marlie Mul, Hammer, 2016 (Below) Martin Soto Climent, Graffiti Blind, 2016
C-P: Last year you presented the exhibition One, No One and One Hundred Thousand deriving from the idea that the vistor could take command not only as a consumer but as well a co-producer alongside the artists and the curator. I myself took part in the exhibition with a friend in Vienna at the time and found the experience to be very rewarding, bringing back a sense of playfulness to enjoying and experiencing art. It could be held as a "democratic" approach, this concept. Tell me more about how you approached the exhibition and how it was materialized?
L.L.P: I never consider a visitor as a consumer. Actually with One, No One and One Hundred Thousand I aimed to offer an experience different from ordinary cultural consumerism. I didn’t even aspire to organize a democratic exhibition pretending we are all the same but rather the opposite. I wanted to emphasize how every person has a different way of looking at things or in this case; of looking at art. My goal was to set up a frame where everything could have been questioned. The exhibition was conceived as an exhibition machine developing a process which I couldn’t control. It’s about potentiality.
In a present time of fast “look-and-go” art consumption, I felt as though this exhibition was an experiment to reimagine an alternative exhibition format. Not only because it pushed the pre-existing boundaries of an art institution, the bureaucratic and practical strictures set in place, but essentially because it materialized the very evanescent notion of time, transforming the exhibition into a living body which is constantly performing.
(Above) Installation view: One, no one and one hundred thousand, from a visit by C-print (Below) Publication accompanying the exhibition, published by Sternberg Press.
C-P: More recently you worked on an exhibition with Camille Henrot (If Wishes Were Horses), and I can really see why Camille Henrot would be such a good fit for Kunsthalle; in essence it feels like there is a kinship between the novel ways in which she explores universal themes in her work and Kunsthalle does in its curated group exhibitions. What was it like working with her?
L.L.P: Camille’s show comprises an entirely new body of work produced for the occasion. Exhibitions of newly commissioned works usually happen more rarely. I had an ongoing, exciting and rich continuous dialogue with Camille and it was a great experience. Camille’s ways of thinking and working are very challenging. It’s a mix of total control and full improvisation. I like it a lot. It’s the same combination which fueled One, No One and One Hundred Thousand. I’ve been always very fascinated by the literary group Oulipo’s approach of merging rules with chance.
(Above) Installation view: Camille Henrot. If Wishes Were Horses (Below) Camille Henrot, Tuesday (Video Still), 2017
C-P: Your next exhibition is titled Publishing as an artistic toolbox: 1989-2017 about the role and potential of art-publishing. It sounds very compelling to me. What can be expected by the visitor?
L.L.P: I prefer not to have any expectations. I consider myself the first viewer of my shows and I always look for being surprised. The exhibition looks at how a recent generation of artists uses publishing as a productive tool for their practice, focusing on the period between 1989 and 2017, taking 1989 as symbolic date to underline the shift from analogue to digital. It aims at inquiring upon the role of art publishing today; on how artists adapt modes of publishing as a tool and on how the notion of the artist’s publishing activity changed over the past decades. It’s not an exhibition about artists' books but a research-based project intended to be a three-dimensional index rather than an encyclopaedic approach to understand the multitude methodologies of publishing. It’s a very demanding show since it is composed of eleven chapters, unfolding through different propositions, partly by material exhibits on display, partly through the presentation of time-based events.
Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989–2017 at Kunsthalle Wien, curated by Luca Lo Pinto, opens November 11 (through January 28)
1) Luca Lo Pinto. Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani 2) Installation view: Camille Henrot. If Wishes Were Horses, Kunsthalle Wien 2017, Photo: Jorit Aust: Camille Henrot, Tug of War, 2017, Courtesy König Galerie, Berlin; kamel mennour, Paris/London; Metro Pictures, New York
3) Installation view One, No One and One Hundred Thousand, Kunsthalle Wien 2016, Photo: Maximilian Pramatarov: Marlie Mul, Hammer, 2016, Courtesy the artist 4) Installation view One, No One and One Hundred Thousand, Kunsthalle Wien 2016, Photo: Maximilian Pramatarov: Martin Soto Climent, Graffiti Blind, 2016, Courtesy the artist and T293 Gallery 5) Installation view One, No One and One Hundred Thousand, Kunsthalle Wien 2016, C-print visiting and participating February 20, Photo: C-print Journal 6) One, no one and one hundred thousand, publication accompanying the exhibition, published by Sternberg Press. Containing images of the different curated exhibitions and texts by Luca Lo Pinto, Vanessa Joan Müller, and Mathieu Copeland 7) Camille Henrot, Tuesday (Video Still), 2017, Courtesy kamel mennour, Paris/London; König Galerie, Berlin; Metro Pictures, New York
8) Installation view: Camille Henrot. If Wishes Were Horses, Kunsthalle Wien 2017, Photo: Jorit Aust: Camille Henrot, Wait What; I Say; Tuesday, 2017, Courtesy König Galerie, Berlin; kamel mennour, Paris/London; Metro Pictures, New York 9) Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989–2017, FAQ, Le Dictateur, 2016, Photo: Kunsthalle Wien 2017
10) Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989–2017, Kunsthalle Wien, Photo: iStock.com/Thomas-Soellner
C-print thanks Katharina Murschetz at Kunsthalle Wien