NEREA UBIETO, CURATOR OF ONE PROJECT ART MADRID'19

"It is essential that artist and curator walk hand in hand, it’s the most exciting part of this work."
The curator and independent art critic Nerea Ubieto takes over from the ONE PROJECT Program of Art Madrid'19. Fresh air and a personal and philosophical narrative to enrich this "showcase of young talents".

For those who don’t know yet what an art curator does and what its role is, could you tell us in your words what you do and what is the function of a curator?

A curator is a connector of aesthetic ideas, a mediator in the broadest and most positive sense of the word: he establishes links between artists and the public, the artwork and space, between the pieces that are part of an exhibition, between the discourse of the artists and other possible speeches... I used to like the definition of the curator as an "ideologist of an exhibition" because it emphasises the reflexive question as opposed to the purely practical, something like a visual philosopher. However, nowadays I find it a bit pretentious and short. The discourse is necessarily forged from the conversations and the exchange with the female artists, therefore, they also "think" the exhibition. It is essential that artist and curator walk hand in hand, it’s the most exciting part of this work. On the other hand, the exhibition is not the only format to channel these artistic connections; there are other ways, visible and invisible. I believe that, currently, reinventing these formats and strategies is a primary task. We have to rethink our function a lot, broaden horizons of action, mix and open ourselves in collaborative ways.

 

  Thinking about the public that visits an art fair or an exhibition… what does this curated perspective provide?

Reaching an audience - of all kinds - is very important the way I understand the curatorial practice. I want to believe that the curated perspective has a lot to offer, first of all, a new look regarding the relationships that may occur between the proposed works. This vision facilitates - but does not make it easy - that the spectator establishes its own interconnections. The curatorial context, extensive reading and, why not, generates an attractive speech that can serve as a hook for an audience that otherwise would not have approached certain speeches. In my opinion, the curated perspective should bring the viewer closer. I try not to lose sight of this and imagine what my parents would think when they come to the exhibition.

“A curator is a connector of aesthetic ideas, a mediator in the broadest and most positive sense of the word: he establishes links between artists and the public, the artwork and space, between the pieces that are part of an exhibition, between the discourse of the artists and other possible speeches”.

 

  The "discourse" is the great contemporary theme... Do you have a discursive fetish? What topics interest you?

I'm not usually closed to anything because, even the topics that interest me less at the beginning, pose a challenge and involve unforeseen learning, but yes, I have preferences... In my projects, I usually work with philosophical bias, especially the personal identity understood in a broad way, from the recesses of nineteenth-century interiority to digital exteriority. Problems around feminism, queer, expanded corporalities, sensory experience, new materialisms, phenomenology... it's very difficult to define, I am passionate about many subjects!

 

  It must be complicated to get a reflexive pause before a work in these days of continuous news, haste and oversaturation of images ... How do you do it /try it?

Yes, it’s tremendously difficult, even more if you have a mind that doesn’t rest... I get it by forcing me to stop, specifically through yoga, practice to which I try to dedicate a time every day.

 

  What is the role of fairs on the stage of contemporary art?

Serve as a showcase, take the pulse of current art, promote the work of artists and, of course, sell it!

“In my projects, I usually work with philosophical bias, especially the personal identity understood in a broad way, from the recesses of nineteenth-century interiority to digital exteriority”.

 

  How do you approach your incorporation to the Art Madrid team? What will you contribute to your program with?

With excitement, but also as a challenge. Curating within a fair is complicated because of undergoing factors that are beyond my control and go beyond the curatorial work: the commercial part, the competition between the fairs, prejudices, fears... I’m aware that dealing with all this is tricky.

I will contribute giving the best of me, presenting interesting proposals and betting on a project 100% female artists. The goal is to radically balance a percentage that has never been on our side. Also, I think the selection is going to happen naturally since the vast majority of artists I've worked with this year are women.

 

  How do you understand the ONE PROJECT Program and how do you value the work of Carlos Delgado Mayordomo, the curator that you relieve?

I understand it as a necessary window and an opportunity for artists who are emerging and need a push. Beyond the possible sales and the visibility that a fair brings, being part of a curated program is a plus for the artist since it means going hand in hand with someone who believes and bets for her work. Also, my intention is to work with these artists outside the fair. With regard to Carlos, I can only assess in positive: I admire his curatorial work in general and the work he has done with the One Project during these 5 years, despite the difficulty. I hope to be up to the task.

 

  BIO NEREA UBIETO:

Zaragoza, 1984. Graduated in Art History from the University of Zaragoza, she works as an independent curator, manager and critic in various art publications. Among her last exhibitions they stand out: "Return Flight Tickets" in the gallery Max Star (Madrid); "The invisible threat" in Sala Amadis (Madrid); "The place where I live" in Galería Ponce Robles (Madrid) or "Keep calm and carry on", inaugurated in Tabacalera Madrid and itinerant by the AECID Cultural Centers Network in Latin America. She has recently been selected in the 2017 V.O. of curator of Valencia with her project "Artfulness" that will take place during September 2018. Among the awards and grants received are: the Residence Scholarship abroad of the Community of Madrid, developed in HIAP-Helsinki International Artist Program (2016); the International Award Exhibition of the CPR (2016), or the international residency Curatorial Program of Research in Estonia and Finland (2015). She is a regular contributor to the cultural television program Metropolis. She combines her work as an independent curator with cultural management, teaching and other projects in the artistic field.

 

 

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.