Between Visibility and Invisibility
Ghosts at Ludlow 38
Ghosts have moved into Ludlow 38, the experimental exhibition space of the Goethe-Institut New York. In an interview, the new curator Franziska Sophie Wildförster explains what the haunting is about, what she plans for her one-year residency and reports on the first exhibition, which opened on February 22.
By Deniz Sertkol-Bergner
How did you find out about the residency?
Ludlow 38 is a very prestigious residency program – it’s almost an institution. So it’s been on my radar for a long time. The format is unique and offers lots of curatorial options. You supervise every level here for one year and the job is very close to that of an art society. I like the close collaboration with artists and other actors around the project space.
New curator Franziska Sophie Wildförster | © Goethe-Institut New York, Photo: Daniel Albanese What does your concept for the residency look like?
I see the period as an opportunity to explore Jacques Derrida’s idea of hauntology. This involves using the ghost metaphor to look at the prevailing late capitalist cultural logic and to contextualize it at the interface of feminism, queer culture and decolonial thinking. How can we come up with alternatives to things that actually have no place in this system and that move from the edges to the center – to haunt there? The abstract figure of the ghost is a beautiful metaphor for thinking about artistic practices and the possibility of criticism because it has a lot to do with visibility and invisibility.
How did you plan the launch with the Cruising Pavilion, New York?
For the exhibition, I asked the Cruising Pavilion curator collective to devise a response to the idea of hauntology. The idea is to revive the ghosts of New York’s cruising culture – lost through the city’s AIDS crisis, gentrification and capitalization – and to link them to contemporary positions that reflect on the relationship of body, public space, sex and political utopia – also with regard to female perspectives.
What’s important to you in the year’s implementation? What are the biggest challenges?
I want to use Ludlow 38 as an experimental place – very few of them exist in New York anymore – to make exhibitions that encourage dialog and reflection. Every year, the audience changes with the curatorial program so the reactions are hard to gauge. There’s also a different mentality here than in Europe, a different critical attitude. My programs deal with issues that are very present here, but also need to be treated with great sensitivity.
What comes after the launch?
It will be followed in April by a solo exhibition by the American artist Ser Serpas. She deals with questions of (in-)visibility and issues of naming and categorization in relation to non-normative bodies. She works with abstract sculptures that often consist of trash; they re-integrate things that are no longer considered valuable by society.
Candice Lin will present her first solo exhibition in New York in June. Lin deals with racialized materials and their histories. She will create an installation of a shop display, interweaving histories of drugs and virology.
Then there will be a project with Lydia Ourahmane, an Algerian-born, British-based artist I’ve worked with in the past. It will be an off-site project, but not an exhibition. It’s still wide open and I’d like to leave myself a little space with it.
The last slot will feature the artist Paul Maheke – he inspired me with regard to the question of the “ghost.”
Franziska Sophie Wildförster was born in Starnberg, Germany in 1987 and studied art history in Vienna and visual cultures and curating in London. She worked for Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary for four years and is co-founder of the independent Kevin Space in Vienna.