Curating thoughts on Art : Prateek and Priyanka Raja on an Interview

Prateek and Priyanka Raja who spearhead Experimenter Curators’ Hub talk about the current edition and their future plans

Entering its 6 th edition, the Experimenter Curators’ Hub is a crucial platform in developing and sustaining discourse on curatorial practice and exhibition making where curators from around the world engage in discussions and presentations with reference to recent exhibitions curated by them. The curators participating at ECH 2016 are Ariana Pradal, Cosmin Costinas, Dayanita Singh, Giorgio Galleani, Marta Smolinska, Maud Page, Naman Ahuja, Natasha Ginwala, Rahaab Allana, Susie Lingham and Hans-Ulrich Obrist (via video conference).

Experimenter was envisioned and started by Prateek and Priyanka Raja in 2009 and goes outside the usual parameters of the art market, highlighting instead experimental and alternative artists from all over the world.

Speaking about the upcoming sixth edition on 28 th , 29 th and 30 th of July, Prateek and Priyanka Raja say, “This year we have expanded the scope of the Hub by inviting curators of design and architecture. We consistenly see exhibitions that increasingly include design and architecture and feel it would be interesting to know more from curators that have worked across cintemporary art, architecture and design. This year we also have a greater proportion of curators from the South Asia / Asia Pacific region. A significant amount of work is being done in the region, and some quite urgent to discuss. The Curators Hub this year will find varied voices from all over the world”

According to Prateek Kolkata was chosen as the home for ECH primarily for two reasons. Besides the fact that Experimenter is in Kolkata, they wanted bring thes most amazing minds in contemporary art to the city and also because they feel that Kolkata has always had a sense for the arts. “This is an extremely culturally engaged city with audiences having the ability to cross-reference artistic disciplines and practices quite fluently. The decision to host the Experimenter Curators’ Hub in Kolkata was a natural choice in that sense.” Priyanka goes on to add, “Over the years, the relevance of the Hub has grown manifold. Our work enables us to engage with some of the most influential minds in contemporary art and it’s important to us that we make that accessible to others. We care about broadening the scope and discussion on art and visual culture andstarted the hub with a simple idea to spark discussion around curatorial practices in India, and are pleased to see the it grow steadily to emerge into an important event for the region.”

Speaking about the local art scenario and ECH’s contribution to it, Priyanka elucidates that Kolkata could do with fresh perspective towards contemporary art. “This remains one of the Hub’s key goals,” the duo says, adding, “The Hub provides an unparalleled opportunity to interact with the visiting curators in an accessible way. It inverts hierarchical roles. A local artist, an art student or an art lover may happen to be seated next to one of the most important curators in the world and have a serious conversation. We need more minds, locally, regionally and nationally, invested in contemporary art, because art raises questions that enable dialogue and provides avenues to view our world differently”

While agreeing that one of the biggest asset has been to document and archive all the Hub’s discussions as an online, freely accessible resource that can be viewed by students, researchers and curators on the Experimenter website, Prateek adds, “We also recognize the importance of social media, so this year, we are posting interviews with each of the curators on a daily basis leading up to the event. This way, audiences get to know the curators a bit better before the Hub. As for the future, let’s see. It’s been an organic process so far and we would like to keep the model open and dynamic.”