In connection with the new residency programme and experimental pilot project Curators in Residence Potsdam, state capital Potsdam is awarding the first-ever Potsdam Curator Prize for the time period 2017/2018.
Artist and curator Folakunle Oshun, born in 1984 in Nigeria, received the first-ever Potsdam Curator Prize 2017. The award is valued at € 30,000 and comes with an invitation to stay in the state capital. It is awarded in an invitation-only competition and is intended to recognize outstanding up-and-coming international curators with an opportunity to undertake intensive research in the city of Potsdam, where they can then develop projects focussing beyond the art world to encompass the local urban society as well.
Folakunle Oshun is already able to look back on a multifaceted curatorial history. After completing degrees in fine arts (sculpture) and art history at the University of Lagos, he served as curator of the inaugural Lagos Biennial. His work often incorporates improvisation, coincidence and orchestrates local collaborations. It was this kind of approach that he also used for the competition for the Potsdam Curator Prize. The jury was particularly impressed by his interest in staging spaces beyond the conventional exhibition setting and reaching out to the people of Potsdam with playful candour.
Oshun's award-winning project specifically consists of juxtaposing the city's history with its immediate present. Thus, he will reach out to city residents in the vicinity of local monuments to seek interviews. Based on these spontaneous encounters, he will plan exhibitions in private homes and invite people to gala evenings there. From private photo albums to light table-talk, a variety of social processes will arise on this premise and ultimately result in the creation of a public exhibition.
The jury members explained their decision as follows: "In a time when more and more we see attempts to create cultural distances, Folakunle Oshun captivated us with a programme of playful transgression of boundaries in which familiar perceptions of self are challenged, history blends spontaneously with the private sector and completely unaccustomed collaborations can arise from a moment of surprise. This approach demonstrated both curatorial creativity and also reminds us, that art is an experiment and an adventure. His projects are also a constructive and reassuring criticism of the widespread institutionalised practice of exhibitions."
The 8-member panel of jury specialists was chaired by Gerrit Gohlke (Artistic Director, Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam e.V.) and included Katja Aßmann (Director of the Centre for Art and Public Space of Schloss Biesdorf), Siegfried Dittler (Director of the Kunstraum c/o Waschhaus Potsdam gGmbH), Gerrit Gohlke (Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam e.V.), Prof. Christian Jankowski (artist and curator of MANIFESTA 11), Bettina Klein (Berlin artists programme at the DAAD), Ulrike Kremeier (Director, Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst, Cottbus/Frankfurt (Oder)), Dr. Ortrud Westheider (Director of the Museum Barberini Potsdam) and Prof. Beatrice von Bismarck (Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig). The city and state were involved in the selection process through the participation of consultants Reiner Walleser, Department Head for Culture at the Brandenburg Ministry for Science, Research and Culture and Dr. Birgit-Katharine Seemann, Department Head for Culture and Museums for the city of Potsdam.
The jury made its selection after a preliminary decision by an appointment committee, which put forward the names of outstanding up-and-coming international curators in a nomination round. Members of the committee included renowned international experts in curatorial research and practice: Ellen Blumenstein (curator, HafenCity, Hamburg), Fulya Erdemci (curator, Istanbul), Zasha Colah (curator, Mumbai/London) Teresa Gleadowe (curator, CAST, UK), Dr. Georg Imdahl (art critic, Düsseldorf), Prof. Christian Jankowski (artist and curator, Berlin/ABK Stuttgart), Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter (ZHdK, Zürich), Jacob Schillinger (curator, Berlin), Tilo Schulz (artist and curator, Berlin).
In addition to the winner, Folakunle Oshun (NG), some of the nominated curators included: Tenzing Barshee (CH/FR), Aurélia Defrance (FR), Romuald Demidenko (PL), Field Notes (GB), Kevser Güler (TR), Franz Hempel (DE), Krisztina Hunya (HU), Ilina Koralova (DE), Jen Kratochvil (CZ), Christina Li (HK), Magarida Mendes (PT), Yael Messer (IL), They are here (GB), Tanja Trampe (CH) and Rieke Vos (NL).
The Curators in Residence Potsdam experimental pilot project is a joint initiative of the state capital and a number of representatives of the local art scene, as well as the committee for contemporary art in Potsdam (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Gegenwartskunst Potsdam). The project also receives funding support from the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg and friendly support of Waveboard Boardinghouse Potsdam. The project’s goal is to attract international curatorial practice with local relevance to Potsdam and initiate exchange on topics such as identity and locality based on diverse forms of fine arts. Since end of November 2017 guest curator Oshun has been accompanied on his project venture by Gerrit Gohlke, artistic director at the Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam e.V.. The first three month of research were also supported by the arts centre Kunstraum c/o Waschhaus Potsdam in the Schiffbauergasse cultural zone. A final presentation in the city of Potsdam will then be prepared by guest curator Oshun by November 2018.