Which exhibition or event are you most looking forward to in 2015, and why?
‘I know many people feel weary of the Venice Biennale, but I relish it. Italo Calvino referred to his need to be constantly on the move but to have places of familiarity that allow deep experience, which is how I think of Venice — being a guest, rather than a visitor. So I very much look forward to the 56th International Art Exhibition, from May 9 to November 22, especially since it’s curated by Okwui Enwezor. He brings huge intelligence and a global perspective that has helped alter the face of international contemporary art and our institutions.
‘The Biennale president Paolo Baratta referred to Enwezor’s interest in "the complex phenomenon of globalization in relation to local roots" and I will enjoy seeing that theme played out in Venice, together with pavilions that include wonderful artists, such as Joan Jonas, Fiona Hall, Paz Errázuriz and Lotty Rosenfeld, Sarah Lucas and herman de vries. In addition, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is contributing a collateral exhibition of work by Ursula von Rydingsvard in an exceptional but until now unused garden in the midst of the Biennale, and I’m curating a Jaume Plensa project in the basilica of Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore. Both installations speak of roots, journeying, identity and belonging — told with great insight and poetry.’
Ursula von Rydingsvard, Bronze Bowl with Lace, 2014
Courtesy the artist, YSP and Galerie Lelong. Photo Jonty Wilde
What do you predict will be the most significant development or biggest talking point in art in the year ahead, and why?
‘At the time of writing, oil prices are slumping and the Ruble is devaluing. Returns from November’s Russian auctions in London were considerably lower than the summer sales. Inevitably, economic sanctions will continue to impact Russia’s buying power and there will be global reverberations within art and its markets throughout the coming year. Contemporary art responds to contemporary life and issues related to migration and displacement will continue to be hotly debated, with these concerns being reflected by artists and in institutions.’
Which artist most excites you right now, and why?
That’s such a tough question, but I’m very excited we have Serge Alain Nitegeka coming to Yorkshire as a visiting artist in the autumn. Until he was 11, Nitegeka lived in Burundi before civil war forced his family to Rwanda where genocide then compelled them to continue a process of forced migration through Central Africa and Kenya until they were eventually able to settle in South Africa. Nitegeka’s work reflects his experience of being a refugee and asylum seeker; he uses packing cases and materials used for makeshift shelters to create emotional environments which compel participants to distort their bodies in order to navigate them, together with powerful drawings and paintings. His work created a storm at the last Armory Show in New York and you can see him extending constructivism and abstraction in a way that is incredibly vivacious and hugely ambitious.’
Serge-Alain Nitegeka, Exterior I, 2012
Photo Ansie Greyling. Courtesy the artist and Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Tell us about the project that you are working on/showcasing in 2015
‘I'm currently curating a large exhibition by Bill Viola (see main image at top), which opens at YSP in October. Working with Bill and his collaborator and partner, Kira Perov, and the studio in Long Beach is fascinating, and I think we’ll make something very special in Yorkshire. Bill’s work examines the human condition and this exhibition will especially highlight the thresholds of life from birth to death in an immersive journey that takes viewers from our 18th century chapel, into the garden, across the Deer Park, and into the large Underground Gallery. Picking up on the importance of the natural world in Bill’s work, in turn it will be spectacular, sensory, engulfing, intimate, transformative and raw.’