Choosing the final eight; final eight Levent Ialikog. lu is Chief Curator of Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and selector of Artes Mundi 4. His coselector is Viktor Misiano, a Russian freelance curator and writer They give their insight into the difficult task of choosing the final eight artists from their research and 500 nominations from around the globe.
Today, contemporary art carries in itself many possibilities that arise within the big transformation. This process, in which a new kind of artist, one who travels extensively and lives in different cities of the world, has emerged, is happening during a period in which contemporary art has become more deeply involved in society's problems.
All the artists chosen for Artes Mundi this year have realised works of art pointing at new social relationships from a political viewpoint in a world that has lost its bearings. These are not innocent narratives: they search for symbols drawn from the subconscious and the ways in which culture internalises these symbols. These artists produce with an awareness of our lost status in the uncertain production and consumption of culture and also in the belief that they are working towards a new era. In a time when hopelessness and hope itself go hand in hand, they describe the pain created by constant change. The tension of uncertainties in political changes, insecurities in human relationships, the loss of belonging and disintegration of identity are related subjects that they choose to tackle. Some use oral history to transfer memories; some transform the tension in human relations with a poetic attitude. These artists not only offer a new look at the relationships of power, but also address the problem of loss of feelings and attachments in the new social and economic order.
Artes Mundi plays a strong, confident and powerful mission in this transformation. It believes in artists who comment on the global political transformation and exhibits their works without hesitation. This choice might seem to be focusing on the opposite of the big, glamorous popular scene, but I can say this confidently now: all who see this exhibition will be interested in the subjects dealt with by the chosen artists.
Artes Mundi is the home of the zeitgeist of today. It is both an honour and a pleasure for me to be a selector for this powerful, dynamic prize.
I choose. He/she chooses. They choose - Viktor Misiano Contemporary ideologists assure us that choice is the defining characteristic of our era.
To an extent, unlike some periods in human history, we are free to make our choices, yet we are also, more than ever before, forced into making choices. In our global world, we are all bound by chains of interlinked choice.
My role in Artes Mundi 4 was to select, in dialogue with Levent Ialikog. lu, the short list on the basis of a long list, that is the choices made by other selectors. One of the artists on my short list will win the Artes Mundi Prize. In other words, my choice is a base for others' choice.
After all, the jury, myself and my colleague, Levent, were each in turn invited, that is to say chosen, by the organisers of Artes Mundi. The chain of interlinked choices opens up: I hear that, after being awarded his prize as part of Artes Mundi 3, NS Harsha was invited to exhibit at the Victoria Miro Gallery.
Everyone is, in turn, waiting for that precise choice from someone of my profession, in other words a curator - and it is characteristic that this type of activity should have emerged only very recently, at the very beginning of our own era.
The list of artists is the thing that everyone eagerly awaits from the art director of the mega-exhibition. It is anticipated with more curiosity than every other aspect: the project title, its conceptual design, its ideological message.
The compilation of a long list/ short list is the primary task and responsibility of the selectors for artistic prizes (who are often also curators), and it is often the subject of almost erotic expectation on the part of the public and media alike.
Such superficial expectations might justifiably be subject to reproach. However it is also true that, for the curator, the selection of artists is a task that should not be undertaken lightly.
It does not matter what appears before in the curatorial imagination: the concept of the exhibition or the participants (each curator having his /her own way of doing things).
What is clear, however, is that these views cannot be separated from one another, since they will work together to create the detailed essence of the project.
Adrian Paci Per Speculum, 2006 [umlaut]the Artist Courtesy Galleria Francesca Kaufmann, Milan