The mobility of artists, curators, and institutions based on specific projects and residencies is commonplace practice in the art world. As the ease of worldwide mobility increases, curatorial and artistic practice have become synonymous with itinerancy, such as travelling for research purposes and generating pop-up projects in unfamiliar territories. The arrival of the outsider in a new context can stimulate unexpected outcomes, challenging the status quo of pre-existing eco-systems of the local art scene and promoting positive exchange of new knowledge and practices. On the other hand, this process is often haunted by the spectre of surface level engagement, coupled with the oversight of the detritus and long-term repercussions the project may leave in its place. Setting up an art exhibition through an international brand name, for instance, in unfamiliar but profitable contexts, can be seen as symptomatic of the protocols of global neoliberalism, where experience economy meets knowledge exchange and where globalized values have the power to dictate (local) artistic practice. But how do we define the boundaries and the spectrum between an ethically aware practice and a “parachuting” project? What kind of ethical codes and behavioral standards can we agree on to regulate the relationships between the “host” nation and the short-lived “pop-up” exhibition, or between the artists-in-residence and the local communities they are asked to engage with?
Case Study: documenta 14, Learning from Athens (2017)
documenta 14, Learning from Athens (2017) is held between Kassel, Germany and Athens. documenta was welcomed by an affirmative stencil in the streets of Athens, stating “Dear documenta: I refuse to exoticise myself to increase your cultural capital”. A week before the opening of documenta 14, the Athens Biennial announced its public programme and exhibition, titled “Waiting for the Barbarians”. Along with various case studies, the example of documenta became a point of departure for discussions around the politics of representation and issues that stem from the remnants that the ultra-mobile, jet-setter curator leaves behind. The panel provoked dialogue into the ethics of navigating new territories and ways to counteract the side effects of this unavoidable symptom of the art world.
Panel Discussion – The Parachuting Phenomenon
Wednesday, 12 April
Introduced by De Appel Curatorial Programme
With Hendrik Folkerts (via Skype), Erin Gleeson, Nat Muller, Haco de Ridder, Xenia Kalpaktsoglou
Moderated by Laurie Cluitmans