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Maybe this is ‘growing up’ in the art world, but something was missing and something felt forced, that is until I left the main grounds to view the smaller independent pavilions throughout the city. Mongolia, for example, had a small pavilion that was entirely funded by the artists (whereas most national pavilions are at least in part government-funded, and the politics inherent within this becomes apparent), and it showed. It lacked the sleek, polished finish that the main spaces had and it had an honesty in its articulation that shone through.

“I cannot create as a curator.” Beatrix Ruf, a German curator and the current director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, said this to us during one of the many talks we had with a number of curators from different stages in their career. Ruf is quite renowned and for good reason. She is an absolute force of a woman and at the heart of her curatorial practice is the artwork and the audience. She spoke of not being able to “create” because for her the role of a curator is to see what is there in the world and to highlight it – which, ironically, sounds like how many view art practices now, and I certainly do. She pushed the idea of not turning artwork into ‘documents’ that illustrate our ideas as curators; she stressed the importance of not silencing work.

“You can always trust your audience.” The Mongolia pavilion certainly did. Ruf was adamant that no matter how experimental an exhibition or work is, quality always comes through to people. Adding to this, I would argue that honesty always comes through to people. Trust is what we need to make any art environment thrive and it is something that many feel the art world is lacking.


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