11 APRIL: Sara Cluggish & Pavel S. Pyś

A CURATORIAL MASTERCLASS for staff and students, held at the Victorian College of the Arts

On 11 April, 2019 CoVA was pleased to host Sara Cluggish (writer & curator) and Pavel S. Pyś (Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis) while they conducted a Curatorial Masterclass for staff and students.

Convened by CoVA Fellow, Enterprise Professor Natalie King, this Masterclass allowed Sara and Pavel to share their experiences of curating across interdisciplinary practices, in small galleries and large research institutions and discuss the projects that have shaped their approaches to curating contemporary art.

Sara Cluggish is the Director of FD13 Residency for the Arts in Minneapolis, a nomadic, event-based residency program which invites artists to create new work and present it live. Over the past 8 years, she has developed a gradual focus on commissioning moving image and performance practices which has led to an investigation of durational curating. She spoke about the balanced responsibility that curators must show to both artists and audiences. She sees the discursive residency event as a unique format which brings both these parties together to engage with artistic production in real time.

Alongside formative professional experiences and upcoming projects, she shared detailed examples from her first season of FD13 residency events which explored themes of health, illness and the body in a state of flux. Projects included movement-based research of bodily contamination in Patrick Staff’s ‘Bathing’; Johanna Hedva’s meditations on physical and mental health in her personal essay ‘Letter to a Young Doctor’ and accompanying talk ‘To Those Mad, Sick, Crip Selves’; and Marianna Simnett’s theatrical sound play ‘The Midden’, a contemporary fable about a young girl who wakes to find her voice is rotten.

Pavel S. Pyś is Curator of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Since joining the Walker, Pavel has contributed to the three-year Interdisciplinary Initiative, which brings into close collaboration the institution’s Visual and Performing Arts Departments. Recent exhibitions include The Body Electric, Elizabeth Price and I am you, you are too. Between 2011 and 2015 Pavel was the Exhibitions & Displays Curator at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK.

Drawing on recent acquisitions and discussions among colleagues, Pavel shared how the Walker Art Center approaches new acquisitions. Considered in the context of the museum field embracing performance, dance, as well as non-object based artworks, what are the opportunities and challenges for museums? At a time when many US institutions deaccession artworks to grow diversity among their collections, what are the advantages and disadvantages to deaccessioning? How are museums approaching collecting today? Is it possible to acquire a dance? How can museum collections reflect interdisciplinary art being made today? How can museum collections reflect and connect to changing audiences?

Sara Cluggish and Pavel S. Pyś were invited to Australia by Artspace, Sydney as part of the International Visiting Curators Program developed in partnership with UNSW Art & Design.