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If we compare the development of other applied arts discipline, such as architecture, fashion, product design, jewellery really needs more innovative contribution.
Interview part of the Serie under the title Selecting: Communicating Knowledge.
What is the main function of a curator?
It is pretty easy to get a definition of this question everywhere. However, I think more importantly that how to be functional as a Curator within a context? From my point of view, simply say, first of all, it is absolutely not enough that you only gain a deep knowledge of the field, with background as researcher, historian, artist, designer, lecturer or whatever. Curator is a social role rather than a full-time academic one. To find your function of it, you must position yourself in a proper social context, since you mainly have to work with humans, and then, objects or exhibition or event's content, because you won't be possible to do all the jobs alone. So that, a proper management skill and spirit of cultural entrepreneurship is the key. Especially nowadays, that curator not only been limited in an internal institute to make an exhibition which is far away been interested from outsider of academics, but also has to deal with different audience and situation, to bridge the perspectives from the organization (institute), the field and audience. At the same time, structurally, you may wish to be innovative by raising / answering a question, a concept, an idea, a fiction, a task; or academically, developing a method, theory. The works often combines of writing, managing, coordinating, publishing, communicating, educating, rather than just putting an exhibition on display, so, there is a clear distinguish between exhibition organizer and curator, and loads of works, yes, it does! Where is your power station to handle the all, your initiative and passion!
TRIPLE PARADE Lectures Beijing CAFA Art Museum 2014
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?
When you work as a Curator, that means your professional position/role within a specific context, but when you mention as a freelancer, that often means your financial situation, I don't see the essential relationship in between the two. On my case, working as curator is just one among other roles.
- I think our field, especially the higher educational institutions, needs to consider the question that how to educate a diversity within the graduates, and support student to explore their talent not only from an artistic perspective, but also among the others.
How has the work of a curator changed in the last years?
Think about changing, you may hear the globe news all the time talking about Industry 4.0 strategy, The fourth industrial revolution, Manufacturing 2025 to Post-industrial Society, there are sorts of concept leading our society to the create the unknown future. Certainly, the world is changing. It always has and always will. As there is nothing which should stop the globalizing force transforming the world into a new wonderland beyond our imagination. However, I do always believe that the future is interdisciplinary collaboration. Yet, our own era often seems to be more dynamic than others. It all depends on how we look at it. You can either restrict or expand. As a new curator, it is also important to discover our role in the field and society, and impact to the outside of the community, I call it cultural ambassador. Moreover, I think our field, especially the higher educational institutions, needs to consider the question that how to educate a diversity within the graduates, and support student to explore their talent not only from an artistic perspective, but also among the others. The student is also able to play a proper role in the grander creative field, able to work differently, we need more creator not just maker. In this sense, if we compare the development of other applied arts discipline, such as architecture, fashion, product design, jewellery really needs more innovative contribution. However, this also means An Infinite Opportunity to us, the 21st century will depend more on the generation of knowledge and practice through innovation.
What is the favorite / dislike part of your work?
What I enjoy the most when a project have done, that everyone who has evolved is happy about it while been benefit in a way. Any curatorial project is a team work, as curator, you are more or less performing as the project leader and manager, content maker, rather than the boss of the others.
Regarding to curatorial process, how does an idea usually start for an exhibition? And how do you develop it?
According to the curatorial process, does not always need to start with an idea, could be also a concept, a commission or a financial possibility, you must consider many parts from location, people, target audiences, communication, budget and so on. Pretty complex task indeed, giving an example, it is similar as piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. The key to play puzzle is to be able to see the entire pattern. And then, how to develop it on going, to a success? you must learn to be the project driver. We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong.
TRIPLE-PARADE exhibition Shenzhen 2014
- When I looked into the field of jewellery, I have realized that there is a need of approach that breaks barriers, connects across cultural differences, and engages our shared values more than making jewellery and using material.
How do you feel curating contemporary jewellery? With my Chinese - Dutch background, I developed myself within a crossed culture context in between Western (West-Europe) and Eastern (East-Asia) world, I understood well the similarities and differences between the two reality. Together with my working experience, allows me to build on a understanding of cultural and creative industries, and the development of a cultural economy to create my own creative initiatives, which might be research-based, policy-based, practice-based, or a combination of any or all of these, that depends on a specific project case.
When I looked into the field of jewellery, I have realized that there is a need of approach that breaks barriers, connects across cultural differences, and engages our shared values more than making jewellery and using material. There is a need of investment that connects us to each other, moves us to action, and strengthens our ability to make collective choices. There is a need of getting out of our own way by identifying solutions (programs, structures, practices, and financial models) that might be outside our comfort zone and require letting go of territory. At 2013, I have started to organize the annual international cultural project TRIPLE PARADE ( a series of exhibition, forum, workshop, lecture, auction, talks, etc ), at the beginning, my mission was very much focus on strategies that foster real collaboration, finding the best ways to leverage existing structures; And later, to identify the stakeholders who must join, support, and advocate for solutions, I must reach beyond the “choir” to deeply understand the values, needs, and motivators of other partners, and learn from ourselves and others. From the first theme Dialogue across Three Generations: Pioneering-Outstanding-Emerging; second theme Dialogue across Three Countries: Finland-Belgium-China, to this coming theme Dialogue across You and Me to Them: Creator-Wearer-Viewer, this year besides of TAFA Art Museum as exhibition host, we will bring the exhibition into GAUGUIN Gallery which is located in Wangjing SOHO skyscrapers designed by Zaha Hadid. I am glad to see that TRIPLE PARADE is growing stronger and stronger.
Wangjing SOHO, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects
What has been your most memorable response by a colleague to an artwork shown in an exhibition curated by you?
I love to see people from the other context, background, field, and I also like to work with them, I could always learn something from the others. Those sorts of people who I had convinced or commissioned to work with me on the past, from industry, politics, business, educators, the other creative discipline, I have seem that they were getting and finding interesting in contemporary jewellery unconsciously through our working process. But, they have never thought jewellery could be so free and valuable, further than just a bling bling. This response often brings me positive energy.
The curatorial project you could never made up?
Who knows, at the moment, I will be eager to take future challenge from you, and you will be egger to know what I will do next.
About the InterviewedJie Sun, is a contemporary designer, curator. Appointed Distinguished Professor (National Distinguished Experts) in College of Design and Innovation ( D&I ) at Tongji University, and Head of Center of Contemporary Jewelry and Fashion Culture ( NoCC ) in Shanghai since early of 2016; Visiting Professor in Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. He is also founder of TRIPLE PARADE, and has worked on major collaborative and curatorial projects, actively engaged in both European and Asian design culture.
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