For me, conceptualising exhibitions means finding a way and creating a situation in which the artworks granted the greatest possible free space, and are enabled to anchor themselves optimally within this space, generate contexts and develop an inner narration. A core driving force of my curatorial practice is to make clear just what an indispensable share contemporary art and artists have in the creation of open spaces of and for the mind, beyond stereotypical thinking and expediencies, and thereby in the shaping of a tolerant, aware sense of community.
Contemporary art is of particular interest to me at the point where its contemporaneity becomes evident – where it becomes clear that it is produced in the present and sustains itself from the themes of the present. This means that current art and its viewers are moving in the same time and share an experiential horizon. However, good art does not reflect the world on a one-to-one basis, but instead circumvents and subverts expectations, changes perspectives, displaces perceptions and focuses the unknown within the known. But the unknown must have the freedom to emerge and be communicated: one central objective of my work is on the one hand the creation and preservation of a free space in which unfolding of artistic expressions is possible without restriction. And on the other, I wish to enable access to artistic perspectives on the realities of our lives and to the enrichment that our daily lives gain through these perspectives in as many different ways as possible. An access to perspectives that seismographically gauge societal sensitivities, question the boundaries of art and non-art, and disable conventional hierarchies. By means of the various possibilities of exhibitions, catalogues and accompanying events, I trace the paths on which artistic works find their way to their own, individual language. Wherein lies the specificity of the respective artist’s thinking? What influences contribute to it? How does it relate to other approaches? And where does it connect with the knowledge world of its viewers?
Ideas such as these must locate themselves within an increasingly inhospitable reality and compel a conscious approach to pragmatic issues: public funding for art is disappearing, obtaining financial support from sponsors is increasingly difficult, the public and policy-makers must be made to understand that culture in general and contemporary art in particular are fundamental elements of a free society. In a recent interview, Daniel Birnbaum defined the issue: “It’s not about being visible, it’s about making visible”. This is precisely the point. Accordingly, I see my role as a curator as an enabler of relevant cultural production, of its presentation at a level that allows it the greatest possible opportunities to unfold itself, and of its communication to an interested audience, even in uncertain times.
Janneke de Vries (2015)