Future Curator Watch: Lucie Gottlieb
C-P: You are just graduating from The International MA in Curating Art Programme at Stockholm University. What is your general philosophy and approach like as a curator?
L.G: Many times, with my classmates and friends we talk about this. Why are we in this field, why are we doing this, and it’s really hard to find a good answer to these questions. What should we do? What is meaningful to be part of, and how can we be actually useful to society?
Recently someone asked me: when you work with art, whom do you care for? I found this question very crucial. As a curator, I think I mainly care about the artist I am working with, especially since there is so much tension between the two fields. I sometimes feel the curators have the tendency to overshadow the artists’ work. But also, the audience of course. I am at the very beginning of my practice, and what I mostly enjoy I realise now is to create something pretty, something moving and touching, so people can feel and sense better and stronger.
But what I like the most is to curate in a certain context, to insert an object into a place that already has its own soul and its own history, to consider the artwork as a character in a narrative.
Anthony Croizet, "Repose-poignet", photo by Judith Florent Lapara, from the exhibition "Then a moment passed and all was changed"
C-P: What are you finding interesting in art right now?
L.G: To be honest, I don’t go to exhibitions that often anymore, it takes very good art and very good artists to motivate me to confine myself in a museum or a gallery space. I have a background in art history and archaeology and I really miss it sometimes, old stones, cultural heritage and so forth, this is why I am so sensitive to art in public spaces. It makes me think about how a place can affect us. I also really enjoy when there is a dialogue between contemporary and more ancient, traditional art.
C-P: Being French-born and having been based here in Stockholm for a while by now; what are your impressions of the art scene here and what might be something that characterizes it?
L.G: it is a bit hard for me to reply since I haven’t really worked as a curator in France, and also I only can talk about Paris, which can’t pretend to represent the entire country. But I wasn’t really feeling confortable in the art world there; it was hard for me to find my place. So with three of my closest friends we started to organize one-night exhibitions/parties addressing race, gender and feminism to offer visibility to emerging artists who only have a marginal presence on the Art market. And it was a great experience! However it is really hard to find funding, we always had to work with a very low or inexistent budget; it’s like facing a blind wall. It is very upsetting because it encourages precariousness, something young artists really suffer from.
It is hard – in Paris at least – to have a voice in the art world. There are so many great shows happening, however I don’t think there is so much freedom. In Sweden, I feel that people are more inclined to experiment; it’s still an evolving scene. It’s also easiest to find spaces interested in hosting new projects, giving a chance to young curators. It’s more open, less pretentious. For example, I don’t think an independent Art Fair like SUPERMARKET would ever happen in Paris! But I guess we are always very critical about our hometown, and often more easily impressed when we discover a new city.
The chapel of Resurrection (Uppståndelsekapellet), Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm
C-P: Your curatorial degree project presents as an interdisciplinary event and collective exhibition in the Chapel of Resurrection in Stockholm. The title is very evocative and poetic and might serve with a lead as to what themes around the ephemeral quality of time and the need to be present it informs. The statement reads; “Stay still, be quiet, feel”. Tell me about the show and how the concept is materialized
L.G: My master thesis deals with curating contemporary art in sacred spaces, and one of the most important questions
coming out is actually how to curate with care and dialogue in spaces already so charged and immutable. Care and dialogue with the people managing the space, with the community, but also with the place itself and its architecture. Regarding the chapel of the Resurrection it is even trickier since it is located on Skogskyrkogården, and therefore part of the Unesco heritage. Also, contemporary art had never been exhibited there before. There are so many rules to follow when we step out the traditional White Cube, and somehow, I wanted to make these rules visible. So I chose a concept that I think is close to Asplund and Lewerentz’ philosophy (the two Skogskyrkogården’s architects): care about the visitors, care about their grief.
The title of the exhibition is actually a quote from Watt, the last Samuel Beckett’s novel where the main character is immersed in a very odd and cold relation between space and time. My idea was to encourage a slowdown and an intimacy between strangers, in a society desperately lacking care and contemplation. The location is very important here, since the audience - religious or not - cannot approach the place as any other: it demands a pious attitude, even if this attitude is demonstrated under a secularized form.
Regarding the statement you are highlighting, I think it came from a very personal feeling: We are constantly sustained with images, article titles, we never stop scrolling on our phones, and fast, without really taking time to stop and focus on what we see or read. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to do some basic social media bashing here, I am a true consumer as well, and I enjoy it. But sometimes, I feel really overwhelmed and I wish I could just pause this flow of information.
In 2016, I had the pleasure to interview Annika Öttander, the artist and curator initiator of Kännbart project. This project explores how we perceive art when we do not use all of our senses, encouraging “touchable” artworks for example. People with deaf- blindness stand in the centre as a target group but also as references. Annika really insisted on “curiosity” and the fact that people spent a lot of time in the exhibition because they were free to use all of their senses, then some of them, they could touch, and they could feel.
It was very inspiring for me, since I myself rarely stand more than 45 seconds in front of an artwork – so used of being fed by a never-ending stream of images. Then a moment passed and all was change is an invitation to take our time and really feel the artworks. I didn’t know if it would work or not. But sometimes, I have the pleasure to see people sitting in the chapel for twenty minutes, half an hour and just looking at the space and the art in silence. This really makes my heart melting.
I think it’s also because the chapel is never open to the public, apart during funerals. A lot of people – even if they know the cemetery very well – never had the opportunity to enter the building, and they know they won’t be able to see it again for a while. So they try to absorb as much as they can.
(Above) Work by Joon-young Yoo, from the exhibition "Then a moment passed and all was changed". (Below) Installation shot from the exhibition at The chapel of Resurrection (Uppståndelsekapellet), Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm
C-P: What can be said about the artists you are collaborating with and exhibiting?
L.G: It is very interesting because I had never really interacted with them before they were invited to participate. But now, I know them better and I can say they are all very tranquil and reposing people. I went several times trough hell and back curating this exhibition, but working and dialoguing with them has always been very calming. They fit right in. It is a very diverse selection, even though they all somehow understand and question this relation between place, moment and people.
Julia Adzuki and Patrick Dallard are based in Gnesta, and they began creating instruments for experiencing sound as vibration in 2015. Their instrument Resonant bodies, consists of a big empty tree trunk where one can lay in, and it was actually part of the exhibition Kännbart I mentioned earlier. Anthony Croizet is based in France and works between Paris and Cognac. He is an autodidact artist who studied journalism and viticulture. His work Repose-poignet (wrist rest) has always been displayed in churches. I am not sure he wanted it to be that way, but I guess the object found its way by itself.
Joon-youg Yoo is a very young artist, still studying at les Beaux Arts de Paris. Her piece was actually the most challenging part of the exhibition: how to suspend a 5 meters tall moving sculpture in a cultural heritage place where no drill, no nail, no damage whatsoever can be made? But she did an amazing job, I am so glad I trusted her. I also invited Watt, a clarinet quartet, to play during the finissage May 5). It’s a drone music project, I have seen them several times playing and I always get out of their concerts completely relaxed, like after a day at the spa! It’s introverted and hypnotic.
(Above and below) Images representing Julia Adzuki & Patrick Dallard's instrument "BAUM", from the exhibition
C-P: What’s next for you following your graduation?
L.G: I will work for the Baltic Circle festival in Helsinki for three months in the fall. I also have a big project in mind, focusing on contemporary reflexions about the Apocalypse, and the aesthetics of destruction. Intense theme. But the idea recently came up and is a bit ambitious, I realise. So I still need some time to process it, and figure out when and how it could take shape. If I can, I will probably take few months to research!
Work by Joon-young Yoo, from the exhibition "Then a moment passed and all was changed"
This exhibition Then a moment passed and all was changed is curated by Lucie Gottlieb and displays works by Julia Adzuki & Patrick Dallard, Anthony Croizet and Joon-joung Yoo. The project is part of a degree project within Curating Art, International Master’s Programme at Stockholm University, and is supported by Stockholms Stad.
Exhibition dates: Saturday 28th April – Saturday 5th May Vernissage: Saturday 28th April, 14:00 – 16:00 Opening hours: 11:00 – 16:00 on Sunday 12:00 – 17:00 on weekdays Place: Chapel of Resurrection, Skogskyrkogården, 122 33 Stockholm (T-bana Skogskyrkogården)