How did Project Unexpected come about?
Actually, I have been introduced to Volkshotel by Irina Birger, an artist and tenant of ‘Broedplaats VKG’ – the creative workspaces in the Volkshotel building. From the beginning, I had an interest for the social dimensions of the hotel – the potential users, guests, visitors, staff and their behaviors and rituals. We started the collaboration at the end of 2013, when the renovation was in full swing. The building site looked a lot different from the final result and it was challenging and exciting to think about a project that would make sense.
Finally, some elements came together, the hospitality of the hotel, the idea to facilitate artistic production and to connect younger, international artist with Amsterdam. This is how the idea of a short-term residency was born. The title of the project relates to the experimental and open character of the project – aiming at giving the artist space to reaction to the location in all its facets.
You’re the curator, what do you do exactly?
Traditionally, a curator is connected with an institution, like a museum, and takes care of the collection and the content of the programming. I work as an independent curator, meaning I am not connected to a specific institution, but I do work with similar formats like exhibitions, publications, lectures and research projects.
Practically speaking, I am working with the whole range of the project – from developing an idea and collaborating with artists, to fundraising and project management. Personally, I am very interested in the side of artistic production, how and where do artists work, what do they need and what are potential forms to mediate that to an audience? In essence, I create space for art and an audience to meet, that can be one-on-one like a publication or an unexpected project people can almost stumble upon, like here at Volkshotel.
How did you select the artists for Project Unexpected#1?
Selecting artists for a project is a delicate process. For Project Unexpected, we wanted to invite international, younger talents from outside the Netherlands. From a content perspective, there was a focus on artists that have affinity with the social dimension of the hotel.
This provides a first framework for developing a profile and what kind of skills artist need to be comfortable with. After some extensive research, I had about 15 exciting potential candidates, who I interviewed personally. After a last selection round and conversations with Volkshotel, the final candidates emerged. I am very happy they are here!
What do you expect to be the outcome of Project Unexpected?
Project Unexpected is also challenging for me, as a curator, because to be honest – I simply don’t now right now, what the final result will be. However, I know how the artists work and with what kind of material, aesthetics and visual language they like to work and what they are capable of. So I do have a rough anticipation and see potential, but at this point, it has not taken any shape yet. There is a close dialogue and exchange with the artists and slowly the ideas and works are beginning to take shape. I guess there is only one way to find out – come and see for yourself!
Can you tell a little bit more about yourself?
Originally I am from Düsseldorf, Germany, and came to the Amsterdam to study Art History at the UvA. I have always been interested in the relationship between what artists make and how we experience it, so curating became a natural choice. I have special interest for art that reacts on public space and everyday life. In the past I have realized exhibitions in different European countries. At the moment, there are several projects in the making, three new exhibition projects but also a publication. In September I will start teaching at the Royal Academy in the Hague – all in all very exciting.
Exhibition opening: 29.08.2014, 17hr.
Volkshotel, Wibautstraat 150, Amsterdam
Photo credits portraits: Raymond van Mil
Photo credits building site: Leonor von Salisch