“It reminds me of school time, with the difference that we wrote the books that we are talking about.” One of the artists, the Italian guy, told me this when I asked him how it is going. (Davide from IOCOSE)
The idea of the speed portfolio viewing as a kind of rating-race; Did I pass – did I fail? This is the absolutely wrong way to look at it, but we cannot deny it exists. It did feel like kindergarten at times. “Misssss, I got only 4 curators, the other kids got 5!! Why is that??” “ Misss my curator is not here, can I get another one instead?” “Miss I did not get the curators I ordered for!” “Miss I am new in Berlin can I get all the emails from everybody participating for my contact list?”...
But where does this feeling of helplessness, of being rated, of having to please (that at times resorts to petty complaints and general bitchiness) comes from? Yes there are a lot (A LOT) of artists in Berlin (and everywhere). We all agree: There are too many. The ugly truth of this kind of events is that it takes a week of non stop emailing to get the 10 curators to participate (out of contacts acquired over months), and another week to sort through the artists (this time 120) who volunteer to participate, even with this short “fence-off/ support “ fee of 10 euro. So is this as simple as a supply and demand model? Not really because this is also the wrong way to look at it.
I think the “truth” lies in this second part of that sentence. As an artist, you write the books you are being examined on (I wish we had that in school). This is magic! You can define the context, the way and (more often than not) even the words your work is perceived – described with. This might seem abstract, and it certainly belongs to a much longer discussion, (as many points made by Anna Catharina Gebbers and Megan Steinman below) I guess what I am saying is that the model of the artist as a semi autistic, socially clueless genius is a thing of the past. (Artists who did not include preferred curators in their applications were deleted immediately - there is no time for that.) Whining and sucking up have not helped anybody either. Ever. If more artists started their own spaces, their own initiatives, wrote about art, curated shows, organized events like this- even go further then imitating existing models (the show, the gallery etc)…this would be so much more fun for everybody...
And by the way I do think curators, who bring years of professional experience to the event, should get paid for reviewing portfolios; especially in longer sessions where they are asked to give constructive feedback and consult on the portfolio, the presentation, the work, possible next career steps etc. This is why we keep this event as easy and short as possible, do most of the ugly work of pre-selecting and organizing the dates ourselves. I am always surprised how most of the artists do not realize that.
I was also surprised to see the most underground-alternative of the curators have the most icy, indifferent attitude towards the artists and the whole process. Everybody was all in all, yet again very engaged and excited. There was a stressful start in the event on Sunday when two curators failed to show up, then when they finally came one of them left again after two “dates” (I do not know what our lovely Rachel Simkover told her..) . It all worked out in the end, as Laura sat “detention”, doing the dates she missed in the beginning and Peter Lang, Megan Steinman, Maud Piquion, Joanna Warsza, Kathrin Becker and Susanne Prinz agreed to one extra date for the artists who missed theirs with Christiane, who had to leave. Thanks again for that!
Artists - Curators Feedback
We asked the artists (curators: see below)
1. Did you find the event useful?
2. Would you have done anything differently?
3. How did you go about your presentation- had you planned it or left it unfold-or depending on the curator?
4. Which curator did you find most exciting/helpful and why?
1. Yes. The event was very useful for me. I had to order my thoughts and to start defining my work better.
At the same time I was happy to meet the other 20 participaiting artists. And I am sure that some of them I will meet again.
2. Yes. I wouldn´t be so nervous next time :)
3. The day before the SPEED PORTFOLIO VIEWING I met an artist with some more experience than me and we talked.
She gave me a few advices and then I prepaired my portfolio like I thought it would be good for a 12 minutes talk.
4. The most feedback about my work I received from Joanna Warsza and Maud Piquion, but otherwise I had a good talk with all of them.
1. I believe it is.
2. Yes. If there is a next time, I would concentrate more on the visual part of my projects rather than the concept. I think there are so many artists, and it is very intense for the curators. It requires a strong visual impact to attract their attentions as well as let them remember the artworks.
3. Yes, I had planned it. I prepared 4-5 projects. But the speed of presentation depends on the curator, if the curator asked some questions, probably I could only finished 2-3 projects, but if the curator were not that interested in, i could easily finish 5 projects.
4. Probably Susanne, Anna and Kathrin. Susanne gave me some references which are very interesting and useful. Anna was the first curator I met, she seemed to be interested in my projects, and was very very nice and friendly, gave me some confidence for rest of the portfolio review. And I am actually participating the III Moscow Young Art Biennial, so I was very excited to see Kathrin, and she is also very nice.
1. It has been useful in terms of general feed-back. I mean what you get from the curator is an immediate but very general idea of consent or polite disinterest. There is not time to get a real feed-back. You present your work and then they might just say some words or you can see some expressions on her/his face that might help you to understand if your work had a positive or negative feed-back. In my personal case it has been quite positive. At least this is what I have understood.
2. During the reviewing portfolio I felt like few minutes more could be necessary to give a comprehensive argumentation of the work and receive the right feedback; also because sometimes the person who is before you, go on talking with the curator taking up next artist's time.
3. My intent was to start my talk from what the curators found more interesting. The problem was that they did not have the slightest idea of my work, so you need to show quickly your work and say at least the most essential things and then the time is almost finished, so you just get the feeling if your work was good or not for them. So it would be nice if the curators had a brief overview of the 10 artists they will be talking to before the real reviewing portfolio.
4. This is difficult to say. I would say Susanne Prinz, but just because I felt her quite interested in my research.
1. I found it very useful, of course. The opportunity of meeting 5 curators in one go is a luxury.
2. The main problem for me was time. 12 minutes is really short to present a bit of the work and to get a feedback. Of course there will be time after the meeting if someone was interested but I think something like 20 minutes would make more sense.
4. In my case, i got two positive meetings out of five. Not bad. The other 3 meetings I got were cold-aseptic responses, a nonsense polite answering which does not bring anything constructive ( that my photos are sharp????? Thanks god you told me) But in the end every meeting had to do with if they were or they were not interested in my work, I mean curators are not teachers and don’t have to be necessarily constructive. For me Susane Prinz was the more exciting and helpful with my work
1. I found the atmosphere relaxed and some interesting points being made, so yeah it was productive.
3. I planned it to a degree, leaving space for the conversation to develop or focus on something the curator got curious about.
4. Anna Gebbers was great because she was very clear about which works she liked and why.
Matti Isan Blind
I thought that 12 minutes was just the right amount of time; it is good to be forced to get straight to the point.
Of course I planned my presentation because otherwise I would have gotten too nervous and said a lot of unnecessary stuff.
I was especially happy with my conversations with Anna Catharina Gebbers and Susanne Prinz, both were curious and encouraging;
1. The "only" twelve-minute topic: I had thought it would have been too little time but it has worked just fine.
2. Maybe a five-minute break between each turn could have been helpful to arrive at the end a bit more fresh.
3. I had prepared a five-minute presentation (enough time for questions or feedback) that I have then used always but once. The one time I haven't used it was in the meeting that has not worked out very well (Anna Gebbers).
4.I found Laura Schleussner, Peter Lang, Kathrin Becker my best matches: they have listened at first, and they have asked questions later and tried to understand my work and to give a feedback at the end. Joanna Warsza and I probably don't have a lot in common but it was still an interesting meeting, for sure she's really quick and smart.
1. thanks so much for the great portofolio-viewing-event, which I found indeed useful: It's definetly a very good idea to give artists and curators a chance to meet in this direct kind of way.
2. The 12 minutes are short, but I guess you are right: it's just long enough to present the basics of one's artwork, and I must say, after meeting the 5th curator I was at the limit of my power (but that could also be caused by the fact, that I came directly from a friend's wedding party in Frankfurt with the first train in the morning to the speed-portofolio-viewing. Thanks for the good and strong coffee at this point.)
3. I had not planned my presentation down to the last detail, I had a few different things to present, and - depending on how the date developed - I focused on this or on that.
4. I can say that all of my dates where constructive in some way, wether it was a perspective on a more detailed meeting or just an auxiliary film-recommondation. Maud has a pleasant professional way to guide you through the meeting and tap the basic infos without loosing too much time from the 12 minutes.
Hank Schmidt in der Beek
2. Yes, I think 20 in place of 12 minutes and 3-4 curators- more time for reflection .
Little bit more quiet ( maybe the tables not so close to each other )
3. Half- half, I had a simple structure, and some questions, reflections that I wanted to discuss.
4. Maud Piquion - had a interesting reflection on the end about my work. As a person who is not so involved in this kind of technical art like mine was also interesting to hear how my art ist understandable.
-Anna C. Gebbers - nice to talk with a person witch have a big experience about video, and is so open and affirmative.
-Peter Lang - reflection in science, metaphysical and art history context - it is good to no that the aspect is readable in my work.
First I would like to thank PIGS for the chance of the 2nd portfolio viewing!
I am glad that most of the viewings went well for me. The short duration may turn out to be professionally impersonal, but it allows the direct focus to be entirely on the artist' work and if time allows, interesting dialogues ensues which is definitely the best part!
Also I really appreciate PIGS' good selection of independent curators, this time I got to meet more curators with their interest specifically in art in public space. My favourite dates this time were with Megan Steinman and Susanne Prinz. Megan was very sharp, she actually brought up something interesting about my work which I hadn't consider before. Would definitely love to talk further with her.
Susanne was also really nice. She was friendly and critical. I like her honesty when giving comments/feedback that are constructive. Also another curator that I would love to talk more with. It was also wonderful to catch up with Anna Catharina Gebbers, whom I had worked with after my first portfolio viewing! awesome event, rock on please!
Jennis Li Cheng Tien
1. I find the Speed Portfolio Viewing a good ocassion to meet with interesting people and exchange views and ideas about yor work and the way it is presented. It is also very helpful to find yourself in the situation, when you have to present your work in a short time period and discus it with a few different poeple. It is a good ocassion to check yourself and clarify, what is the most important in what you do.
2. In my opinion everything was prepared very well.
3. I planed my presentation just a little bit. Although, it was changing, depending on whom I was talking with.
4. The most helpful and interesting person, with whom I was talking that day was Laura Schleussner. Although, all the curators were very friendly and with most of them I had a constructive conversation.
1. I found this event useful and functional. Artists are looking for curators and curators are looking for artists, in the middle there is only your work, and nothing else matters.
3. I've talked mostly about only one project, which I believe summarises quite well our approach to art. I was mostly interested in what the curators' comments. I think it worked well, I didn't want to talk too much, and after a brief introduction you can already see if there is some sort of feeling with the curator. Talking too much could easily be boring.
4. Susanne Prinz had some very relevant observations about one of our works, similar to those we had while the project was still in progress. This gave me the impression that, after watching the video I showed her, she understood our work perfectly and could give some thoughtful comments. Impressive! Kathrin Becker, impressed me for her curiosity. She wanted to investigate every single clue, despite the meeting was going to be only 12 minutes long. She gave me the impression of a very committed worker.
1. In general, I enjoyed the event. I even would repeat it next year when possible. I was only a bit disappointed that in the very last minute one of the curators couldn’t make it. Maybe it could be a good idea to have some back up ones.
4. I appreciated the catering. Some cake can help to make a conversation more easy going. I felt very comfortable with my meetings and specially enjoyed my talk with Anna Catharina. She made some interesting and very clever interpretations of my work. She wasn’t afraid to interrupt me to share her thoughts and even though we had so little time we managed to have a proper conversation.
The rest of the curators where also very respectful and enthusiastic. I only missed a couple of minutes to get some feedback. I really tried to keep it simple and explain only the very essential of my work, so we could have some time for discussion but it wasn’t enough. I guess I didn’t summarize enough but also the time was really too tight.
What we must admit is that we do not know really what to think about what happened. We thought that these meetings had a professional goal. We thought we had professional criticism about our work. But today we do not really know what to think about these meetings because we do not really know what happened. Yes, it's true (really true) this event was very well organized, it was very nice, but even if we received some compliments about our work, we do not know ... of course, perhaps it comes from our own work, perhaps it was not appropriate for the curators. Only they do not say it explicitly. On the one hand none have expressed the possibility of working together and by another hand none expressed the impossibility and reason for that. So we have no complaints about the organization. Everything was fine on this side. Moreover we believe that this event is really very useful, only we can not say if it was useful for us because our different meetings left us in the "vague".
1. Absolutely. It was exciting and stressful and confusing and very fast-paced indeed and in the midst of all this I felt I learnt a lot about presenting and communicating FAST with a complete stranger, whom hasn't the first clue about one's work. I also learnt a lot about my fellow artists and how they felt about the art world in general as well as the event.
2. Yes, I would go through my work more slowly next time, to allow the viewer to respond. And show less work: less is more!
3. It was a bit difficult to plan a presentation system as my work explores many fields. I tried to pick the projects that I thought would interest each curator the most, but in fact, once the conversation got going, the curator also led the way the presentation went.
4. Well I cannot but mention at least two people: I found my conversation with Susanne Prinz satisfyingly rewarding because I felt that she totally got the idea of what I was trying to talk about and had pretty sharp questions, I enjoyed the exchange very much. I also very much appreciated meeting maud piquion:I felt that she really wanted to help artists become more professional and she was full of good advice. She also mentioned some artists works that she thought related to mine, and she got it well right!
On the other hand the first curators I met were the gitte bohr duo but although they were really friendly I don't think they were so hot about my work as they are very political and I'm very personal. I knew this and it made me nervous so I think I spoke way too much and went trough my work too fast for them to take it in!
It went better with laura schleussner because by then i'd learnt my lesson about trying to cram in too much and she was very accessible and communicative, I left with a good feeling.
1. I had overall a good feeling, but time will tell. I did receive constructive feedback and contact info from most curators with positive feeling to contact them in the future. In general I had a very pleasant feeling and also was happy about the friendly atmosphere among the artist participating.
2. I think the acoustic was very problematic and it made you need to shout and not hear so well, it will be great to have a bit more space and calm space to talk in. Longer meeting time will be better even extending it in 5 min. It was stressful that some of the curators didn't show up but it is not something you can plan, I was happy how it was resolved , thank you!
3. After one year in Goldrausch I got very used to presenting my work in short, I prepare the work I wish to show but then change it a bit to shorten the viewing time of video as I felt the time was even shorter and it is also important to listen.
4. I felt Susanne Prinz was the most open and excited to see new work and gave great feedback. Joanna Warsza was quite clear about her preferences, which I find good. And the others where also positive but as the time pass I think the ability to see and give was reduced. I can understand. The last one with Laura was a bit hectic also because it was really the last meeting so there I felt focus lost from both sides.
We asked the curators:
1. What did you like, what did you not like about the process.
2. What did you overall think about the quality of works presented, which were your favorite "dates" (you can mention names, if you remember, the artists did too)
3. Do you think 12 min are enough for something like this?
4. How important is presenting the work. Would a good work lose from a bad presentation?
5. In an ideal world do you feel a curator should be paid to spend time reviewing portfolios?
1. Liked the overview and diversity of portfolios. I think it is definitely enough time to tell if the work interests me or if I want to pursue it furhter. For me it was a little one-sided due to time, and I kept my feedback to a minimum, since there was not really enough time for a two-way conversation
2. Matti - liked his sculptural installations, Anna Bak, Tomas Werner (Czeck) – showed a video that would possibly fit an upcoming show.
4. With one artists I felt that English was a real challenge for him. And I did not connect to the work at all, not just because of this, but partly yes. I found it helpful when artists could summarize themselves in 2-3 sentences at the beginning, even just in terms of media. Generally - 80 % gave good presentations.
5. Yes, of course! :) But in the real world of short budgets - at least freelancers who don’t have an institution salary.
1. I thought that the process was a good opportunity for artists and curators to come together and talk about art ideas. I also thought that it was a nice opportunity for curators to meet with one another in a completely non-competitive environment. I suppose I would have liked the mingling period to last longer than a coffee pause, but then the event would need to take place on a day with dreadful weather, not a gorgeous 20+ degree summer Sunday.
2. The work was overall as it often is in situations such as this event (and many group shows): mixed.
My favorite "dates" were with Jennis Li Cheng Tieng and Teresa Solar. I thought that Li's works contained formal considerations of both color, shape and material aesthetics while still allowing for the spontaneity of social encounters required for a public-based art practice. The stakes of Art and the stakes of the social are equally evaluated. These considerations make the work viable for both interior/contained traditional exhibition spaces and exterior public/social space. Teresa Solar managed to position herself as the universal protagonist in very auto-biographical art and environmental situations. Her choices of mediums and overall work process were intellectually engaging, allowing the viewer to connect directly to both the material and its concepts - which were also aesthetically solid.
3. From the curatorial perspective - yes, 12 minutes is fine. The fact is that for any artist I would be interested in working with further, I would organize a proper, lengthier studio visit at a later date. The 12 minutes therefore serve as a nice introduction period.
4. An artists ability to present their work is essential. I was impressed with the eloquence that many artists possessed in describing their ideas and their inspirations. I'd give the presentations a 70-30 ratio, 70% being well done, 30% being just OK. I suspect that this high success rate is a function of " art-world training" that happens in many MFA programs and commercial art sectors. As a curator, I want to know that the artist is first and foremost the quintessential champion of their own projects. Buzz words, apathy, and a lack of connection to their personal position does not make me want to empathize with the work and its concepts. Good work is actually going to still shine through, despite its creators best efforts. Good work is good work. Period. More interesting is the fact that less developed work can still make a connection with a solid presentation. I am not saying that I would put shoddy work in a show because of its presentation, but I would certainly remember the artist and potentially keep them on my radar.
5. To properly answer this question, I think it's important to specify "by whom" said curator would be getting paid. From a curator's perspective, the process of portfolio viewing should happen part and parcel with exhibition making. Therefore, in an ideal world, a curator would be paid by the exhibiting institution or organization with the intention that the content of the portfolio either does or does not relate to the exhibition concept. Suppose an on-staff curator of a museum, gallery or other art institution might also have "general portfolio reviews" as part of their general job description. Someone that considers their self an artist manager or artist consultant might be able to obtain fees individually from artists for portfolio viewing. This service could be seen as a way for artists to perfect the presentation of their work. Curators can of course be managers and consultants in addition to their curatorial work, and would likely bring a necessary expertise from their experience in exhibition making and knowledge of what (in very general terms) curators are looking for.
1. The process is absolutely perfect: Thanks to Despina and the Bpigs-team that they've undertaken the much longer process of choosing the most interesting portfolios for us and that they take care of the clocking, including reminders shortly before time is running out. If you've been or are a member of committees or juries you appreciate this luxurious process: no exhausting preliminary rounds, very effective time management, and last not least: the opportunity to view the portfolio with the artist aside but without any obligations (In the normal course of things the effect of coming to see an artist's work can be that this artist implicitly expects to be invited to a show, almost thinks that this is the invitation: that makes me meanwhile restrain from studio visits of artists who are no close friends)
And a not to be underestimated side effect: I love seeing my curator friends on this occasion and meet curators I haven't met or did not know beforehand
2. The overall quality of the portfolios presented was again amazingly high!
Based on my specific interests I was impressed e.g. by the works of Ting-Ting Cheng (again, a brillant Taiwanese artist – like the encounter with adorable Jennis Li Cheng Tien last year), Rachel Simkover, Matti Isan Blind, Sharon Paz, Jan Adriaans, Teresa Solar....
3. Absolutely! If you are interested in someone's work more deeply you can change addresses and meet up later. And if you are not very interested, it's also a feasible period.
4. On the one hand it is of course much more comfortable for me to be introduced to a work in a smooth way. And I do appreciate a PDF, Keynote, PowerPoint etc. On the other hand I'm able to identify good work without this. Some artists aren't even able to talk about their works – and I do think this is totally ok, because the language of a visual artist mostly is a visual one. The important point for me is, if it is possible to find a thread, the motiv force behind the work
Even though you often realize from the work the cultural or biographical background, I would sometimes love to see a CV. It's not essential for me to know about exhibitions at important institutions or a long list of exhibitions, but learn more about where the work comes from: studies of art or psychology or politics or nothing, grown up in an american, asian, european context, influenced by literature or tribal art or contemporary society or whatever
But the overall presentation-smoothness was even better than last year – I'd say 80%
5. Yes, of course, curators should be paid!
They create opportunities, spaces, surroundings for artist to be seen, to be contextualizes and to be mediated. E.g. often curators find the words that artists don't have – beside all the hustle around finding a space, organizing transports, attracting/reaching an audience. And by doing so they start or facilitate artists's careers, make gallerists, critics and other curators become interested in these artists etc. But 99.9% of the curators are the ones who earn the least money in the whole art world.
Since the Bpigs Speedportfolio Viewing is clearly labeled to be a support for Bpigs, you can decide to participate and become a supporter. I would never ever pay money for looking at artists's portfolios: I have thousands of offers and opportunities to do so. But I "pay" attention and give my time.
But generally we need a new discussion about fees for freelance curators and authors. This debate lastly was initiated a bit, when Hanno Rauterberg from DIE ZEIT wrote a couple of years ago, that critics shouldn't also curate shows – his arguments were as lightweighted as his articles since he wrote from his comfortable position of a saturated staff editor (and even in his texts about art works you often have the impression he doesn't know at all what's going on the "real" world out there). But in the discussion his text sparked it was brought to light the precarious situation of curators and writers in the art world.
I hope that we can spark a new discussion through the AICA – but again: the commitment and engagement at AICA is something that isn't paid. Like a lot of things I do. Commons are great if they are based on a fair trade and exchange. But I wonder what kind of exchange value would be appropriate for the work of a freelance curator. A basic income? The offer to live in the homes of artists, gallerists, museum directors? A "Tafel" for curators? I would appreciate any suggestions.
1. Process was fine, I found that the participating artists were nicely prepared and were able to put out their main concerns in their work. Only problem came from the practical world: accoustics!
2. Hank Schmidt was interesting, also, the first girl I met Jennis Li Cheng Tieng, as well as Ting-Ting Cheng and the Italian group represented by Davide (group´s name is something similar to "Ionesco"), and Jan, the Dutch artist! And the Spanish girl with the drawings (Ana Garcia Pineda) She was number 3 in my schedule.... This is what I remember right now and maybe this already tells something...
3. Yes, I think so.....
4. Certainly, communication ABOUT the work plays a very important role today, so I think it is 50-50 even....
5. Hm, I would calculate by hour: say we spend something like 3 hours and 80 Euro per hour would be nice....