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Art Insight #2: Nicolas Bourriaud

Meet the Curator of Taipei Biennial 2014, Nicolas Bourriaud

Nicolas Bourriaud
Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration> (2014.9.13-2015.1.4) Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics, published in 1998, was a groundbreaking text in the art world. During that time, existing post-modern theories were unable to explain the new attempts of contemporary experimental artists. Relational Aesthetics, a phrase coined by Bourriaud, came to be seen as a defining text for a wide variety of art produced by a generation that included Rirkrit Tiravanija, Maurizio Cattelan, Pierre Huyghe, and others who came to prominence in early 1990s Europe. His critical theory continues to be evaluated as a powerful, expository critique of the decade, though there are some who disagree with his idea of inter-human relationships and participatory art.

Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration> (2014.9.13-2015.1.4) Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

In the 2000s, he established himself as an important critic and curator, but one who worked in the field actively while continuing to publish. Some of his most well-known titles include Postproduction (2002) and The Radicant(2009), companion texts to his exhibitions Playlist(2004) and Altermodern(2009), respectively. His enthusiasm and approach to intersecting the critical and curatorial fields provoke complex discussions about the relationship between contemporary art and life. Most recently, he has added to the conversation new questions about the relationships between humans, machines and nature. He directed the Taipei Biennial 2014, titled The Great Acceleration: Art in the Anthropocene, expanding upon his ideas. We sat down with Bourriaud to speak about his developing concept of art and his work in expanding those boundaries.

Exhibition should create its own aesthetic patterns, putting the current trends into question. Not following them. Forms and words, images and texts, follow each other. One only has to create the right loop. - Nicolas Bourriaud -

  • 니콜라 부리요

    Q. The theme of the Taipei Biennial 2014 is The Great Acceleration: Art in the Anthropocene. After viewing the show, I felt it was a metaphor for human civilization. Is there a reason you wanted to pose that theme now?

    I had the idea after reading that, today, on the Internet; there are more machines than human beings circulating. I connected it with the theme of the Anthropocene, which was a great image to introduce the idea of a new era, an epoch where humans, robots, minerals, plants and animals have to re-negotiate their relationships. The sphere of interhuman relations cannot be conceived any more without its environmental and technological sides. Of course, there is an ecological background in the exhibition, but it really is about the human condition.

  • Installation View of Surasi Kusowlong <Golden Ghost (Reality Called, So I Woke Up)> 2014 12 gold necklaces with symbol made and designed by the artist are hidden in industrial thread waste of 5 tons in the exhibition space. Neon work, mirror, photographs and works on paper Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Q. Do you feel there are specific differences between the Korean, or Asian, art world and Europe?

    Now, we all start from a globalized state of culture, and one has to look for cultural specificities…A German artist can work on karaoke, a Korean artist can produce a work about Goethe or Marcel Duchamp…Everyone has to grow his or her own cultural roots. We are radicants, like those plants whose roots grow with them like ivy.

Timur Si-Qin <Premiere Machinic Funerary: part I> 2014 Trade booth display, vitrine, 3D print, video Dimensions variable Courtesy of artist and Société Berlin

Q. Looking at it broadly, there are some people who say curators need to create exhibitions from existing discussions, and others who say curators need to create discussion through exhibitions. Which side would you support?

I don’t really care about the existing discussion, and I avoid using other people’s concepts. I try to follow my own personal path. Then, discussion always happens, because an exhibition should create its own aesthetic patterns, putting the current trends into question. Not following them. Forms and words, images and texts, follow each other. One only has to create the right loop.

Q. Some people say your shows confine artworks to theories, because they’re so strong. What do you feel about that view?

Artworks are always exceeding and going beyond theories, if they are strong themselves. I use theory as a screenplay: it leads me to select such and such artist, then serves as a base for dialogue with each participant. Then, I totally forget it. As I know that every artist is an element that contributes to the meaning of the show, I can concentrate on the artworks themselves and organize their visual presence and their mutual relationships. My exhibitions never illustrate a theory: they confront ideas with artworks, and it produces something different. I could even say that my exhibitions try to reach an image. The gathering of the pieces generates a visual pattern, always. And I want the visitor to reach that image. An exhibition is like an opera; all singers here have to be considered by their personal voice. Then, the exhibition as a whole says something.

Mika Rottenberg <Bowls Balls Souls Holes (AV)> 2014 Video and sculpture installation Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery Inc. New York Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

Q. What’s next for you?

I will publish a new essay titled The Exform, first in English and Spanish this spring, and a compilation of texts from the last 20 years. It will be published in French, and the title is Forms and trajects. Then, I am working on a small but interesting biennale in Kaunas, Lithuania, for September 2015. And every day, I am working on transforming the Beaux-Arts de Paris into the best art school ever.

Q. You were recently in Korea. When was your first trip to the country, and what were your most memorable experiences here?

My first visit to Korea was in 1995, and I’ve regularly come back since. My best memory is of maybe the Gwangju Biennale in 2000, co-curated by RenéBlock, which made me discover the works of many artists not known in Europe then, like Subodh Gupta, Sudarshan Shetty and some others. And also my participation in the Herms Foundation Missulsang in 2003: I defended Haegue Yang, who won the award.

  • Chuan-Lun Wu <Coast Mining> 2014 Coast Petrochemical found Object, Sand, Photo mounting on plexiglass Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Q. Today, many corporations support art. For example, Hyundai Motor is in partnership with Tate to commission new works at the Turbine Hall, in addition to working with National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). What would you like to see from Hyundai Motor and what do you think is the best way for global companies to support art?

    The best way to support art is to enable artists to show or produce their works, or make great ideas possible.

  • Jr-Shin Luo <Terrarium:

    Q. You are currently the director of an art school. What is your educational vision?

    The Beaux-arts de Paris has a very specific DNA: for two centuries, it transmitted art through the confrontation between students, artists and artworks. It is not a university, but an art school, independent and functioning with a different model. I only try to propel those elements into the 21stcentury.We have a beautiful historical site, a proper art center, a collection of more than 400,000 works, and a publishing company. New ideas are blossoming every week, and we encourage collaborative projects between students as much as their ultimate singularity.

니콜라 부리요 전시 이미지

Q. And finally, would you like to say anything to the young artists struggling in the art world?

Go on struggling. It will never end. ■ with ARTINPOST

  • OPAVIVARÁ! <FORMOSA DECELERATOR>

    2014 Transmedia 220×1000×1000cm Courtesy of the artist Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    OPAVIVARÁ! <FORMOSA DECELERATOR>
  • Surasi Kusowlong <Golden Ghost (Reality Called, So I Woke Up)>

    2014 12 gold necklaces with symbol made and designed by the artist are hidden in industrial thread waste of 5 tons in the exhibition space. Neon work, mirror, photographs and works on paper Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Surasi Kusowlong <Golden Ghost (Reality Called, So I Woke Up)>
  • Installation View of Haegue Yang's works: <Female Natives>, <Medicine Men>, <Field of Teleportation>(In collaboration with Manuel Raeder)

    Courtesy of the artist Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Haegue Yang's works: <Female Natives>, <Medicine Men>, <Field of Teleportation>(In collaboration with Manuel Raeder)
  • Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration>

    (2014.9.13-2015.1.4) Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration>
  • Installation View of Surasi Kusowlong <Golden Ghost (Reality Called, So I Woke Up)>

    2014 12 gold necklaces with symbol made and designed by the artist are hidden in industrial thread waste of 5 tons in the exhibition space. Neon work, mirror, photographs and works on paper Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Surasi Kusowlong <Golden Ghost (Reality Called, So I Woke Up)>
  • Installation View of Haegue Yang's works: <Female Natives>, <Medicine Men>, <Field of Teleportation>(In collaboration with Manuel Raeder)

    Courtesy of the artist Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Haegue Yang's works: <Female Natives>, <Medicine Men>, <Field of Teleportation>(In collaboration with Manuel Raeder)
  • Installation View of OPAVIVARÁ! <FORMOSA DECELERATOR>

    2014 Transmedia 220×1000×1000cm Courtesy of the artist Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of OPAVIVARÁ! <FORMOSA DECELERATOR>
  • Anika Yi <Le Pain Symbiotique>

    2014 PVC dome, projector, single channel video, glycerin soap, resin, dough, pigmented powder, plastic, mylar, beads, tempera paint, cellophane, rice Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Anika Yi <Le Pain Symbiotique>
  • Roger Hirons <Untitled>

    2008 Atomised jet engine, aircraft dust piece Dimensions variable Courtesy of Corvi-Mora gallery Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Roger Hirons <Untitled>
  • Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration>

    (2014.9.13-2015.1.4) Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration>
  • Installation View of NicolásUriburu's works

    Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of NicolásUriburu's works
  • Installation View of Patrick Van Caekenbergh's works

    Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Patrick Van Caekenbergh's works
  • Timur Si-Qin <Premiere Machinic Funerary: part I>

    2014 Trade booth display, vitrine, 3D print, video Dimensions variable Courtesy of artist and Société Berlin

    Timur Si-Qin <Premiere Machinic Funerary: part I>
  • Mika Rottenberg <Bowls Balls Souls Holes (AV)>

    2014 Video and sculpture installation Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery Inc. New York Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Mika Rottenberg <Bowls Balls Souls Holes (AV)>
  • Po-Chih Huang <Production Line-Made in China & Made in Taiwan>

    2014 Mixed Media Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Po-Chih Huang <Production Line-Made in China & Made in Taiwan>
  • Chuan-Lun Wu <Coast Mining>

    2014 Coast Petrochemical found Object, Sand, Photo mounting on plexiglass Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Chuan-Lun Wu <Coast Mining>
  • Shimabuku <Mobile Phone and Stone Tool>

    2014 iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and ancient stone tools Dimension variable Courtesy of the artist Photo: Peter White Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Shimabuku <Mobile Phone and Stone Tool>
  • Shimabuku <My Teacher Tortoise>

    2011-2014 Sulcata tortoise, pen, lamp, title sticker and poster Dimension variable Courtesy of the artist & Air de Paris &ParisWilkinson, London Photo: Peter White Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Shimabuku <My Teacher Tortoise>
  • Laure Prouvost <It, Heat, Hit>

    2010-2014 Video and mixed media installation, sound Video: 7'20; installation dimension variable Courtesy of the artist and MOT International London and Brussels Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Laure Prouvost <It, Heat, Hit>
  • Jr-Shin Luo <Terrarium:

    2014 Tree bark, humidifier, fluorescent lights Dimensions variable Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Jr-Shin Luo <Terrarium:
  • Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration>

    (2014.9.13-2015.1.4) Image Courtesy of ARTINPOST

    Installation View of Taipei Biennial 2014 <The Great Acceleration>

Biography

Nicolas Bourriaud

Born in France, Nicolas Bourriaud, marked a new era in the art world publishing Relational Aesthetics (1998). After working as a curator, critic and theorist, he co-founded the Palais de Tokyo withJérôme Sans in 1999, serving as co-director to 2006. He had found the contemporary art magazine Documents sur l'artand and worked for Flash Art as the Paris correspondent for eight years till 1995. From 2008 to 2010 he was the Gulbenkian curator of contemporary art at Tate Britain. He established himself as one of the most powerful curators in Europe directing the fourth Tate Triennial, Altermodern successfully. Also, He gained fame again as an international theorist publishing The Radicant (2009) and Postproduction (2011). Now, he is the director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the curator of the Taipei Biennial 2014, The Great Acceleration.

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