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About curating. Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya interviewed by klimt02

Interview  /  CuratingDebates
Published: 16.06.2016
Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya
Author:
Klimt02
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2016
Opening of the exhibition "Gifts from America". Left to right: Paul Rodzianko (Chairman emeritus of American friends of the Hermitage Museum), Helen Drutt English, Gijs Bakker, Mathew Drutt.
Opening of the exhibition "Gifts from America". Left to right: Paul Rodzianko (Chairman emeritus of American friends of the Hermitage Museum), Helen Drutt English, Gijs Bakker, Mathew Drutt

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
New forms of the exhibitions projects appeared within the last decades, combining classical and contemporary art together or puting contemporary art into the traditional museum spaces.

Interview part of the Serie under the title Selecting: Communicating Knowledge.
 
What is the main function of a curator? Curator first came into use as meaning overseer, however in 21st century, a curator is probably best known as a ‘multitasked’ for an exhibition, what do you consider yourself in this position as a freelancer?
I work as a curator of Russian Porcelain Collection in the State Hermitage Museum and talking about curatorial functions I would say that there are two «types» of curatorial work: for the classical museum, the one I belong two, the main functions of curator are the following:

Preservation of the collection.
Researching the collection.
Introducing collection to the public.


By introducing the collection we mean showing it on displays to the public - both on temporary exhibitions inside and outside museum, and constant expositions inside the museum; publishing catalog collections, catalogs of the temporary exhibitions, writing articles, participating/organizing art conferences, making films, Cd/DVD about museum collections and particular items and much more with only one aim - to highlight the collection and popularize it amongst different social groups all over the world.

 
  • The function of the curator in the Hermitage Museum is multitasked, and demanded high professional skills and knowledge of the subject.


When we talk about preservation of the collection we also always keep in mind that curator in the museum is also in charge of acquisition new items to fulfil the gaps in the collection, to enrich it and in this sense curator is also an expert of the certain material, who is in charge of suggesting particular object to be purchased by the museum and who is responsible for the authenticity of the art object which is offered to be bought for the museum.
So, the function of the curator in the Hermitage Museum is multitasked, and demanded high professional skills and knowledge of the subject.

Another type of curator is a person who is realizing various types of projects, including events, exhibitions in the museums, gallery spaces and etc. Indeed, both types of curatorial work have a lot in common.


How has the work of a curator changed in the last years?
When we talk about museums like Hermitage Museum, the main functions of the curator cannot be changed. But new forms of the exhibitions projects appeared within the last decades, a lot of them focused on combining classical and contemporary art together or putting contemporary art into the traditional museum spaces and etc. Various social projects and activities are added to the main functions of the museum curator, new types and forms of recording inventories of the items, new ways of keeping collections appeared - this would be probably the biggest changes in our work.


Regarding to curatorial process, how does an idea usually start for an exhibition? And how do you develop it?
The idea of the exhibition can be from inside the museum or outside the museum. By the «outside idea» we mean when another museum or cultural institute want to have from us exhibition devoted to let's say Catherine the Great or exhibition about her jewelry and etc. Then the so-called working group is formed amongst few curators who started developing the idea of the exhibition, offering the general concept of the exhibition and which exhibition items can be suggested. In this perspective museum curators can work together with the group of curators from another institution where this exhibition will take place.
A lot of similarities of this working process can be seen in the curatorial work, when the idea of an exhibition is coming from inside. It can be pure initiative of one curator or several curators, who have to introduce the idea and the concept of the future exhibition to the Exhibition Committee of the Hermitage Museum, which have the final word, weather the exhibition will take place or not. Sometimes Exhibition Committee would suggest to fix some issues about the exhibition concept or change the title or suggest to add/exclude some items. If the general idea is approved, then curator would start working with the designers, writing catalog for the exhibition, which is compulsory in the Hermitage Museum - no exhibition can happen without catalog. Work with the photographers for the catalog and designers of the catalog is also a big part of our curatorial work.

 
  • Private museums and state museums, which focus on contemporary art are also tent to ignore the subject of the contemporary international jewellery.


An exhibition, event, meeting... that has impressed you specially?
If we talk about contemporary jewellery, I must admit that unfortunately it is still very less known and sadly almost not presented topic within the major museums. Private museums and state museums, which focus on contemporary art are also tent to ignore the subject of the contemporary international jewellery. Always are in vogue Faberge topic and those jewelers who are continuing the tradition of Karl Faberge company, Cartier and other big names from the turn of XIX-XX centuries. This is why the biggest event which has happened in the scene of the international contemporary jewellery is the exhibition «Gifts from America», where Helen Drutt English played the major role. This exhibition was a real gift of 74 art objects of applied art, including contemporary jewellery to 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum. The exhibition is still on display in the museum, and for those who are keen on contemporary jewellery this exhibition is a real Mekka.


Marjorie Schick, Neck decoration "Refraction", 1993
Papier mache; handmade, painted



Dozens of Russian young jewellers, who obviously belong to the new generation of the jewelers have seen this exhibitions hundreds of times. Helen Drutt English made an invaluable contribution by making this exhibition happen together will all the people who was working with her to make this event possible.

 
  • I was first introduced to the fascinating world of contempopary jewellery by Helen Drutt English years ago and since then it has become an essential part of my life.


How do you feel curating contemporary jewellery? What do you thing is the most interesting thing that you helped to make happen?
Unfortunately I am not curating contemporary jewellery, but I am teaching contemporary jewellery classes in the British Higher School of Art and Design (www.britishdesign.ru). I was first introduced to the fascinating world of contemporary jewellery by Helen Drutt English years ago and since then it has become an essential part of my life. I brought back to Russia memories of meeting jewelry designers, knowledge and understanding about the contemporary jewelry world from Helen Drutt English, which I develop daily since then. And the main goal today is to spread the knowledge about contemporary jewelry amongst wide range of people, make them see this subject, understand it, accept it and appreciate. This process is happening slowly, but is happening with the help of such people as the curator of the jewellery course in British Higher School and Art and Design Tatiana Sova, who is the real soul of the contemporary jewellery world. She initiated not only the vast and intense programs for the students, where guest lecturers and master-classes by various jewelleres are taking place, but also promoting contemporary jewelry topic to be on display during such events like Design Weeks, etc. or making JeWeekend (jewellery weekend) and many more.


Daria Nikitina, Necklace. O2


Such events are happening regularly both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg and we work in a team. Such events normally attract large variety of people, and showing them jewelry works made by young generation of Russian designers (Yura Bylkov, Alexander Nenilin, Plyaka, De profundis, Sasonko, O2 by Daria Nikitina, A_S_M_I, Serg Carno, Tsagana Badaeva, Olga Trofimchyk, Ekaterina Sisfontes, TMoor and Anastasia Tmur, Tessa and Valeria Markova, LOURIE, Iren Simonova, Luch, UUQ114, Glazunov brothers and many more), making lectures and master classes - all this make the contemporary jewelry movement essential part of contemporary art scene. Olga Koleykina organized network «New jewelers" and JuVelirum.ru where designers from all over the country can get up-to-date information about various events going on in the world of contemporary jewelry.

British Higher School of Art and Design together with JuVelirum.ru working side by side and being a part of this group is very inspiring in all perspectives. Having possibility of lecturing on subject of international contemporary jewellery and making master-classes both for students and art lovers within the programs I described above I would consider as the most interesting thing that I still helping to make happen in the world of contemporary jewelry.



Dr. Ekaterina (Tina) Khmelnitskaya, curator of Russian porcelain collection, State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg) and lecturing professor at the British High School of Art and Design in Moscow: course on contemporary jewelry and master-classes. In free time creating herself design jewelry www.tinaartgallery.spb.ru. She participated in organizing over twenty Hermitage exhibitions, including exhibitions in Japan, Germany, and Scotland as well as Russia. She is the author of more than 70 scholarly publications, including guidebooks as well as scholarly articles and 8 books on the porcelain collection of the State Hermitage Museum and about independent contemporary artists. She has received research support for work in Germany from the German Chancellor Fellowship (2005-2006) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2008, 2010, 2014), and from the Max-Planck-Institut for research in Italy, Florence in 2010 and Rome in 2011. In 2012 she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Library of Congress and at Stanford University.
 
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