My curatorial practice has been fundamentally forged by my activity at various ‘Kunstvereine’ (art associations). Working first at the Kunsthalle Basel, now at the Bonner Kunstverein, I count the facilitation of artistic experiments and communicating these to the broadest possible audience among my most important duties.
A successful exhibition is one which ultimately surprises even the artist. Surprise and enthusiasm infect the viewer, thereby unhinging preconceived notions and expectations of images and judgements. To prompt even just a single moment of bewilderment or astonishment in the viewer should be the target of any exhibition concept. By the same token, an exhibition should also reflect upon the conditions of artistic production, especially at the Kunstverein, where works are frequently produced in situ for specific situations.
Faced by today’s environment of sensory overload and the overwhelming volume of cultural package deals, we are increasingly losing our capacity to develop curiosity, to independently make sense of heterogeneous content or form opinions of our own. I view the curatorial activity at the art associations as offering a position from which such tendencies can be countered. Also, with an accompanying programme aimed at tying artistic issues back into everyday life it is possible to show that contemporary art is not a hermetically closed field, but on its own terms constantly seeks visual means to articulate questions and values of concern to everyone.
The central focus lies on the exhibition as a medium; the works on display first of all speak for themselves and by no means serve to illustrate a theoretical concept. But it strikes me as equally important to find new exhibition formats in order to critically review conventional and familiar forms. In the Bonner Kunstverein I have introduced a series in which artists are paired up to jointly conceive an exhibition and explore a common approach with their respective works (Jan Mancuska – Jonas Dahlberg, 2005; Christopher Williams – Mathias Poledna, 2008). The exhibition venue is not only a place for seeing and experiencing, but above all also a place for encounter, where not only visitors meet artists, but artists meet artists too.
Christina Végh (2007)