219 registered participants from 37 nations, exciting lectures and field reports with lively discussions, a much-used chat and conference technology that worked perfectly over long distances – this is the balance of the first digital meeting in the history of IKT, to which the International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art, together with host Marta Herford under the direction of IKT member Roland Nachtigäller, invited IKT members and the public on October 17th and 18th, 2020.
The topic of the virtual meeting, "Sustainable Curating in Corona Times", linked the drastic consequences of the pandemic on the art and culture industry to a problem, which has been known for a long time, but is rarely discussed in public: How sustainable is the art and culture industry? What do the corona-induced closures of art institutions, worldwide travel bans etc. mean for curatorial work? How threatened is the pandemic for the existence of independent, but also employed curators? Does the art business have to rethink in order to do justice to the principles of sustainability itself? And what alternatives are there to the classical institutional exhibitions?
For the most part, IKT members from around the world reported live on the virtual stage about their experiences, presented concepts that have proven their worth in recent months, and discussed with the invited guest speakers and participants in smaller sessions about what a sustainable curatorial practice could look like in the future.
Among the high-profile guests were keynote speaker Till Briegleb, journalist and author of the groundbreaking essay "Consequence Paralysis", Thomas Oberender, Director of the Berliner Festspiele and curator of the "unplugged exhibition" Down to Earth, which was shown at the Gropius Bau in Berlin in summer 2020, and Lucia Pietroiusti, Curator of General Ecology at the London Serpentine Galleries. The virtual panel discussion moderated by IKT board member Ombretta Agró Andruff was completed by Farid Rakun, member of the Indonesian collective ruangrupa, which will curate the "documenta fifteen" in Kassel 2022.
At the end of the event everyone agreed: Although a virtual meeting cannot replace the physical gathering on the occasion of an IKT Congress, in these difficult times especially for art and culture, it offers a perfect and above all sustainable opportunity and platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences.
In any case, the digital event gave a foretaste of the IKT Congress in Germany, which was postponed until September 2021 due to the pandemic, and which will be organized collaboratively between IKT, Kunsthalle Osnabrück, hase29. Gesellschaft für zeitgenössische Kunst and Marta Herford – hopefully as a face-to-face event.
The recording of the IKT 2020 Virtual Meeting is available here.
The following presentations are (also) available as PDF:
Till Briegleb, “Consequence Paralysis” (English | German)
Biljana Ciric, “Art as Essential Activity – An Inquiry”
O’Neil Lawrence, “The National Gallery of Jamaica’s evolving role during the Covid-19 pandemic”
Paula Toppila, “Art. Science. Climate. Work – IHME”
Our special thanks go to Roland Nachtigäller and the entire team from Marta Herford, Alfredo Cramerotti, Mostyn/Wales, SmartEvents, Dresden as well as to
Antje Nöhren, Kultursekretariat NRW Gütersloh and Bezirksregierung Detmold for their kind support.
"Thank you, IKT and all, as curators and artists we all have the possibility (and responsibility) to think about and engage with intersectional environmentalism in our work (and life)".
Thale Fastvold, IKT member, Oslo/Norway
"My huge and sincere congratulations for this two-day Congress. Inspirational and also practical, a v e r y good learning experience."
Peggy Gale, IKT member, Toronto/Canada
"It was a rare occasion to hear discussions around a sustainable future from curatorial, institutional point of view, I learned a lot. It was also really empowering to feel the solidarity from all over the world in this difficult time."
Hanae Utamura, Artist, Japan/USA
"Thank you for organizing the virtual Congress! I have kept missing to join the congress for years but ironically I could join you from my bed room this year. Working locally and sharing globally are realized due to the pandemic. I hope you will somehow keep this alternative channel for communication after Corona."
Keiko Okamura, IKT member, Japan
"Thank you very much, Till Briegleb, for a keynote to the very point. I think we need art more than ever in this transition. Much respect for all presenters, organisers, friends and colleagues and take care! We can do it, we are working in the creative field :-)"
Paula Toppila, IKT member, Helsinki/Finland
"More convenings like this would support these international connections."
Susan Caraballo, IKT member, Miami/USA
"Great opportunity for a first dip into the IKT world. Absolutely brilliant presentations and discussion, thank you!"
Joanne Bushnell, Southampton/United Kingdom
"My heart goes out to the art community as galleries and museums closing everywhere, honor to your desires to inspire social impact SDG behavior changes."
George Cummings, USA
"Thank you for the best prepared, organised and chaired IKT meeting I can recall, as well as addressing some of the most challenging problem we all face."
Henry Meyric Hughes, IKT member, London/United Kingdom
"Thank you so much for organizing this exciting meeting. The need for connection and communication is amplified now, art has a vital role in meeting that. Was very nice to see everybody. Take care."
Berta Sichel, IKT member, Madrid/Spain
"Thanks to IKT team and board for this great meeting. It was focused on core topics, and opening them to the international community brings the chance for all to connect in shared experiences."
Guadalupe Garcia, IKT candidate, Palmetto Bay/USA
"Congratulations for a well organized congress, much was learned from both the presentations and the exchanges!"
Tessa Maria Guazon, Manila/Philippines
"Thank you all at IKT board and office and at Marta Herford for making #IKTdigital2020 possible and happening. I enjoyed very much the discussions and the presentations. Kudos!"
Kati Kivinen, IKT member, Helsinki/Finland
"Thanks everyone for the inspirational sessions and it's great that many curators share the interest to create a more sustainABLE art world!"
Valeria Geritzen, Artist Agent, Berlin/Germany