Minding the Gap: the Critical Role of Smaller Organisations

Panel Discussion

Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna, Hu Fang, Daniella Rose King, Samar Martha


Dar Al Nadwa

Photo by Alfredo Rubio

Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna (Latitudes, Spain)
Hu Fang (Vitamin Creative Space, China)
Daniella Rose King (MASS Alexandria, Egypt)
Samar Martha - moderator (ArtSchool Palestine, Palestine)

Amid changing demographics, new political climates, technological advances and globalisation, small and mid-sized community-based arts organisations offer a unique space for artistic excellence and innovation, astute leadership connected to community needs and new engagement models in the arts and cultural fields. They also provide a canvas for the works of emerging artists and serve as vital, bustling laboratories supporting artistic and creative experimentation and innovation. This panel will explore the role of three prominent international arts organisations, their primordial beginnings, their respective missions and the challenges they face.

Max Andrews is an independent curator and writer based in Barcelona. Since 2005 he has co-directed the independent curatorial office Latitudes with Mariana Cánepa Luna. He is a graduate of the MA Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London (2001–2003). He was Curatorial Fellow at the Walker Art Center Minneapolis (2003–2004) and Special Projects Curatorial Assistant to Director, Tate Collection, London (2004–2005). Andrews is a regular contributor to Frieze and has also written for magazines, including: Tate Etc., Mousse, and Spike. His essays and writings have been featured in publications including: Robert Smithson: Art in Continual Movement (Alauda Publications, 2012), Haegue Yang (Sala Rekalde, 2009), 55th Carnegie International (2008) and the Whitney Biennial (2006).

Mariana Cánepa Luna is an independent curator and writer based in Barcelona. Since 2005 she has co-directed the independent curatorial office Latitudes with Max Andrews. She graduated in Art History, Universitat de Barcelona (1995–2000) and studied Cinema History, DAMS, Università degli Studi di Bologna (1999), before completing an MA in Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London (2002–2004). Between 2004–2005, she worked at the Serpentine Gallery, London, as a Fondation de France Curatorial Fellow. She has contributed to a variety of magazines, including: Untitled, ArteContexto, Mousse and Atlantica and to publications: Brave New Worlds (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2007–2008), Estratos, PAC Murcia (2008), Artistic Interventions, Expo Zaragoza (2008) and Before Everything, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (2010).

Latitudes is an independent Barcelona-based curatorial office initiated in 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna. Recent projects include: Lawrence Weiner – The Crest of a Wave, Fundació Suñol, Barcelona (2008), Portscapes, a series of ten commissions in the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2009) and the participation in the two editions of No Soul For Sale: A Festival of Independents, with The Bruce High Quality Foundation X Initiative, New York (2009) and Martí Anson Tate Modern, London (2010). Latitudes was a partner organisation in The Last Newspaper at the New Museum, New York (2010–2011), for which it edited ten weekly newspapers that formed the exhibition catalogue and was the curator of Amikejo, the 2011 season of Laboratorio 987, the project space of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, MUSAC, in León, Spain. Latitudes convened The Dutch Assembly for ARCOmadrid 2012, an accumulation of 30 events by art institutions and artists from The Netherlands.

Hu Fang is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Vitamin Creative Space and the Pavilion in Beijing. His daily practice focuses on the process of initiating new models though intensive dialogues and collaborations with artists, through the negotiations of independence in the Chinese context in particular, to open up new possibilities of planting  "species of spaces " within the contemporary art context. He has been involved in various international art projects including the Documenta 12 magazines in 2007 as Coordinating Editor and the Yokohama Triennale 2008 as Co-Curator. Fang is also an avid fiction writer and his works of fiction actively explore how individuals perceive and try to build-up their relation with the world. His recent novel Garden of Mirrored Flowers, is co-published by Sternberg Press and Vitamin Creative Space.

Vitamin Creative Space explores an alternative working mode for contemporary arts and culture specifically geared to the contemporary Chinese context, based in Guangzhou, China. Founded in 2002, Vitamin Creative Space is inspired by the confrontation between contemporary life and ancient Chinese philosophy. In order to operate independently from institutionalised funding, this experimental contemporary art space is active both as an independent art space and as a ‘commercial’ gallery. Vitamin Creative Space challenges preconceptions by merging these two traditionally opposed strategies for supporting and presenting contemporary art, targeting the search for new Chinese contributions at both the artistic-practice and the institutional level within the larger, global context.

Daniella Rose King is a curator and writer, currently based in Alexandria, Egypt. Originally from London, she is the Programmer and Associate Curator at MASS Alexandria, an independent study and studio programme for artists in Egypt. King read History of Art at the University of Manchester and received her MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art in London. She is a researcher for Culture + Conflict and contributed to the publication The Right Dissonance (London, 2011). Between 2009-2011, King worked as Assistant Curator in Nottingham Contemporary’s Exhibitions and Public Programmes departments. King is concerned with the social history of art, particularly when it brings to light forgotten, oppressed or difficult histories, moments of struggle and spaces of resistance. Presently, she is focused on the effects of globalisation on cultural production, particularly in the MENA region, with a curiosity for new ideas and curatorial models that reflect upon these transformations.

MASS Alexandria was founded by artist Wael Shawky in 2010 to provide an opportunity for independent study and learning for artists in Egypt through a programme of workshops, seminars and studio visits. The space – a shared studio, exhibition, screening and meeting space – is located in the east-Alexandrian neighbourhood of Miami. In its first year, between October 2010 and May 2011, MASS Alexandria hosted lectures, talks, conversations, workshops, seminars and studio visits from a number of contributors. These included: Sarah Rifky, Adriano Pedrosa, Alex Freedman, Bruce Ferguson, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Judith Wielander, Malak Helmy, N’Goné Fall, Susanne Pfeffer and William Wells. For the 2012 programme, 24 artists (16 full-time, 8 part-time students) have been enrolled. Students will be encouraged to work closely with cultural, artistic and scientific ideas in the fields of art history, theory and inter-disciplinary studies.

Samar Martha is Co-Founder and Director of ArtSchool Palestine and a freelance curator. Martha has worked with Visiting Arts, London, on a range of projects across the Middle East. She is also a Co-Founder of Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem. Martha has been writing, lecturing and curating exhibitions in the UK and abroad with a particular focus on Palestinian and Middle Eastern contemporary art practices, such as: This Day at the Tate Modern (2007), Still on Vacation at Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo (2007), In/Scene video art exhibition at Al Hoash Gallery, Jerusalem (2008), The Other Shadow of the City, an international art exhibition at Al Hoash Gallery, Jerusalem (2009),  In/Progress at Forum Schlossplatz, Aarau, Switzerland (2010), Localities at the Rokensdile Museum, Denmark (2010) and Future - Movements Jerusalem at Liverpool Biennial (2010). Since 2005 she has co-curated the annual Palestine Film Festival at the Barbican Centre, London. Martha is currently curating the opening of the first contemporary art museum in Palestine, the Riwayya Museum, which will open in December 2013 in Bethlehem City, Palestine.

ArtSchool Palestine is a non-profit organisation founded in 2005 by a group of art professionals, curators and artists based in Palestine and London. ArtSchool Palestine is committed to the production, facilitation and circulation of artistic practices, and the provision of networking opportunities with the aim of enhancing cultural exchange, educational opportunities and encouraging critical debate. The virtual existence of ArtSchool Palestine has enabled it to work across Palestine and abroad, commissioning and producing projects by contemporary artists. ArtSchool Palestine’s work is powered by the belief that artists are capable of creating visionary works which impact upon the way we view our world. Since their launch in 2005, activities have included involvement in a wide range of projects – from exhibitions, film and video screenings, lectures, performances and publications, to establishing networks and initiating partnerships for reflection, dialogue and exchange.

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