In one of the curatorial speed visits in Umeå, North Sweden in 2012 I was scheduled to sit in a room and receive local artists, one by one, 20 minutes each a full day long. Today I obviously don’t remember most of their faces, nor their names, but what is left is a bunch of weird tales I was told: a story of reclaiming a Sami identity, the daily job of four police officers near the polar circle covering an area bigger than Holland, dust as sculpture, illegal porno-cinema on the ferries to Latvia. Listening to all of that odd testimony mediated into photos, performances or films, I felt like some kind of a curatorial shrink, a therapist receiving a variety of patients with their unique cases sublimed into art. Sitting in this Nordic protestant house it occurred to me clearly than ever that artists are our nomadic story-tellers, depositors of ideological or historical dilemmas, investigators of social inequalities. I saw in those and many other such individuals I was, am and will be listening to — detectives, researchers, but also social advocates and activists, and myself as a peculiar researcher and translator, trying to make sense out of it. This peculiar meeting later helped me in formulating a concept for the Gothenburg Biennale, where I commissioned a well-known Scandinavian author Noir to transcribe the artists projects into a crime novel – a genre, which in this part of the world, is a way of delegated political debate.
Joanna Warsza is a curator in the fields of visual and performing arts and architecture. She was curator of the Georgian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale and associate curator of the 7th Berlin Biennale. Her practice, most often research and context based, stems from the need for reveling social and political agendas. She edited of Stadium X-A Place That Never Was (2009), Forget Fear – (with Artur Żmijewski, 2012) and Ministry of Highways: A Guide to the Performative Architecture of Tbilisi published by Sternberg Press in May 2013. She is also a co-curator of the last Göteborg Biennale. Joanna is also currently a researcher at Olafur Eliasson’s Institut für Raumexperimente in Berlin, where she lives and works.
The guest lecture of Joanna Warsza is kindly supported by Adam Mickiewicz Institut in Warsaw.
This talk is given as part of the lecture series The Visitor Talks : Pre-ambulation and Retrospection.