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International Curatorial Symposium ‘Transcending Realities, Overcoming Borders and Creating Structures’

October 3-4, 2019

New Holland Island Pavilion, St. Petersburg

The Curatorial Symposium focused on extending territories of curatorial and artistic practices as well as changing conditions of curatorial profession.

The two-day event brought together Russian and international art professionals and researchers to study and discuss how contemporary curators and artists infiltrate into different social structures that shape new political realities. During the Symposium the particiants discussed the potentiality of contemporary curating to resist the shrinking autonomy and the impact of the challenges of our times on contemporary art and cultural processes.
Symposium participants included Bassam El Baroni (Aalto University, Helsinki), Avi Feldman (Agency for Legal Imagination; University of Dresden), Galit Eilat (Meduza Foundation, Amsterdam), Ulrika Flink (Konstfrämjandet, SETTING, Stockholm, Paul O’Neill (Publics, Helsinki), Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits (Creative Association of Curators TOK, St Petersburg), Snejana Krasteva (Garage Museum for Contemporary Art, Moscow), Joanna Sokolowska (Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland), Mariika Semenenko (Do Culture, Moscow). The speakers of the symposium presented examples of recent and ongoing curatorial projects and strategies that deal with a variety of fields and areas of knowledge including law and governmentality, alternative economies, climate disasters, education, property, real estate and social segregation, gender equality, migration processes, and manipulative strategies of the media. Together with the local art community they analyzed the role and impact of curatorship in rethinking historical discourses and reshaping understanding about publicness, sharing, and solidarity in the artistic domain.
The Symposium was very well received by the audiences and well covered by the media. Thanks to diverse and engaged publics, the discussion went beyond the framework of contemporary art and touched upon the themes of the role and impact of creative workers on various societal processes and developments that were also looked upon through the lens of non-state institutions, cultural policy, museum-making, feminism, cultural dialogue, and exchange.
The Symposium took place at the New Holland, which in parallel served as a venue for the retrospective exhibition of the TOK curators ‘How To Work Together’. The exhibition, which reflected upon the collective's practice of 10 years, addressed the theme of curating in turbulent times and juxtaposes TOK's projects and developments with social and political changes in Russia and internationally. The Symposium was also a part of a much bigger event - the first Curatorial Forum, which embraced major contemporary art and exhibition venues in St Petersburg and lasted in different parts of town, including artist studios, for four days.
Inspired by success of the Curatorial Symposium and the high level of curatorial and art research discourse that it has produced this year, the Creative Association of Curators TOK is planning to organize the Symposium annually and continue to stimulate the exchange between Russian and international curators and students engaged in various curatorial programmes in Russia.