Curatorial Practice as Political Commitment
Independent curatorial practice, now regarded as an indispensable element of the contemporary art world, has come into its own only in recent decades. Traditionally, it formed part of the larger constellation of museum practice. In this talk, poet, cultural theorist and curator Ranjit Hoskote will reflect on this transition as it has played out in his own practice, beginning in the early 1990s and embracing a variety of contexts (including the biennial, the museum, the festival, and the gallery) within the art ecosystem as well as a range of exhibitionary formats (including the retrospective, the survey, the introspective, and the exhibition as research engine). Hoskote will dwell, particularly, on his large-scale transhistorical exhibition, ‘The Sacred Everyday: Embracing the Risk of Difference’ (Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, 2018), to discuss a set of questions that have fascinated him and shaped his curatorial practice during the last decade: Can the limits posed by the historical presentism of the contemporary art world be set aside? Can we see the cultural production of the present in terms of larger and longer ‘experimental continuities’? In what ways can curatorial practice articulate and embody a political commitment?
Ranjit Hoskote is a poet, cultural theorist and curator. He curated India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011) and was co-curator, with Okwui Enwezor and Hyunjin Kim, of the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008). Since 1994, Hoskote has curated more than 50 exhibitions of Indian and global art. These include mid-career or lifetime retrospectives and deep-focus introspectives of major artists such as Atul Dodiya (Japan Foundation Asia Center, Tokyo 2001, and National Gallery of Modern Art/ NGMA, New Delhi 2013), Jehangir Sabavala (NGMA, Mumbai 2005 and New Delhi 2006), Laxman Shreshtha (CSMVS Museum, Mumbai 2016), Sakti Burman (NGMA, Mumbai 2017), M F Husain (Mathaf Museum of Modern Art, Doha 2019), Mehlli Gobhai (NGMA, Mumbai 2020), and F N Souza (CSMVS Museum, Mumbai 2022). Hoskote has been a fellow of the International Writing Program, University of Iowa, and has held writing residencies at Villa Waldberta, Munich; the Polish Institute, Berlin; and Theater der Welt, Essen-Mülheim. He has been researcher-in-residence at BAK/ basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, as well as a contributor to BAK’s long-term Former West research project.