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Anjali Jhangiani
Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Eve Lemesle, Managing Director of Mumbai Art Room, discusses how the next generation of curators at the institute will be trained

Located in Colaba, Mumbai Art Room exhibits contemporary art and designs from India and foreign countries for six years. The Trustees of the institute have announced a new focus for the next two years, where the aim will be to turn Mumbai Art Room into a curatorial laboratory for emerging Indian and international curators. After the next generation of curators are selected, they will be mentored and given space to practise what they learn. 
We speak with Eve Lemesle, appointed as the new Managing Director, to find out what it takes to become a curator.

How are the next generation of curators selected?
The selection is through nomination process by eminent curators, as well as open calls. 

What skill set does a curator need to have?
Curating is a complex practice, which requires theoretical knowledge of art history, understanding of contemporary culture, and relevance in the selection of high quality artworks, and multiple skills from writing to transforming spaces or climbing on a ladder to do lighting!

What are the demands of the job?
The curator’s role is to support the artist and establish a context for their ideas. It requires constant research and dialogue with the artists.

What are the main areas in which the curators need to be mentored?
Our curatorial lab will support two very important aspects of exhibition making: the conceptual approach as well as all space related components of the exhibition. Our curatorial committee will help the curators build their exhibition’s proposal with critical feedback, while Mumbai Art Room team, on ground, supports them in the execution of the shows. We are creating an environment where the curators will be mentored all through the exhibition making process: writing, space design, legal, budgeting, lighting, public outreach and promotion.

Do you think every generation of curators brings a difference to the art scene?
Yes of course, there are many parameters that can influence the practice of curating from generation to generation. For example, curators today have access to new technology and social media, which can multiply the outreach of an exhibition. There are also lots of artists and curators’ mobility grants and residencies available allowing curators to attend major art events, research and do studio visits internationally, and work with artists beyond borders.   

What are the things you learnt when you were being mentored, that you want to pass on to this generation of curators?
My expertise lies in arts management and production of the exhibitions. Hence these are important aspects of the practice, I’ll be personally mentoring curators with.

What are one’s duties and responsibilities as a curator?
I think that curators should conceive exhibitions that are accessible for the audience with write-ups, education programmes and mediation. 

Can you explain how to understand art, and its value, to a 
layman?

The best way to understand art is to keep visiting exhibitions, galleries and museums, attend walk-throughs, read about the exhibitions, research online about the artists and their practices, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to gallery and museum staff about the artworks.

What is your comment on the awareness of art in India? What kind of a role do curators play in spreading the awareness about art among the public?
Art initiatives are growing in India since a few years, and especially non-for-profit institutions. Events like the Kochi Biennale are absolutely instrumental in spreading awareness to the younger generations. Many foundations have started art festivals, photography festivals and even private museums. 
The opportunity for the public to discover art keeps growing, and in this context curators play a huge role. At Mumbai Art Room, each curator will be invited to think beyond the gallery to develop public outreach programmes in parallel to the exhibitions. 

We will encourage programmes that engage with diverse communities and partners and could happen off site, anywhere in the city. 

ST Reader Service
Mumbai Art Room Annual Benefit, will feature the Mumbai launch of Dayanita Singh’s Museum Bhavan, a talk with Diana Campbell Betancourt and the sale of limited edition artwork donated by Subodh Gupta today.
 

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