Fondazione Antonio Ratti

Jenny Lomax, Rein Wolfs

Building an Audience – The Most Beautiful Kunsthalle in the World

16 February 2012
FAR – Villa Sucota

Watch on Vimeo Part I, Part II, Part III

After having discussed so many themes related to the contemporary art system, such as the relation between exhibition spaces and contexts; the roles of the curator, or the importance of publications, it was the moment to reflect on another key element of the contemporary art institution, which concerns reception, its core conceptions, and strategies of engagement with the public.

One of the priorities of any cultural institution is that of attending to its public vocation, and thus to consider the relation to the wide and multiple varieties of audiences. To animate this discussion, we will examine two specific cases: the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, in Kassel (the city that every seven years also hosts Documenta), and the Camden Arts Centre, in London, because the intense activity, the richness of approaches, and diversity of proposals of these two institutions have turned them into two exemplar cases of relation with the audiences.

By managing to develop strategies that push further the dialogues and reflections on art and culture; by generating community interactions and by reaching varied audiences, both the Camden Arts Centre and the Fridericianum offered us an exemplar background to discuss these topics, and to find answers to such questions as: is there only one audience in contemporary art? Or are there many, and diverse publics? Is the audience that influences the choice of the program and initiatives or, instead, are those that capture diverse audiences and attract new visitors? How did the art audiences change during the last years? How do audiences vary in different contexts? What initiatives can art institutions do in order to solidify the relationship with their audiences?

Jenni Lomax is a curator and writer. From 1990 to 2017, she was the Director of Camden Arts Centre in London where she established a programme of international exhibitions, artists, residencies, education projects, and public events. She led the organization through a major building refurbishment scheme which was completed in early 2004. She was awarded the Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007 and received an OBE for her services to the Visual Arts in 2009. Before Camden Arts Centre, Jenni developed and headed up the Community Education and Public Programmes at the Whitechapel Art Gallery throughout the 1980s. Throughout her career, she has been involved in an advisory capacity with many arts, education, and charitable organizations and has been a member of selection and judging panels for numerous awards and exhibitions including The Turner Prize, Arts Foundation Award, and the Jerwood Drawing Prize. She maintains a close relationship with Art education through her role as External Examiner and occasional Lecturer at a number of University Fine Art Courses.

Rein Wolfs has a distinguished career, particularly in Germany and Switzerland. In 2013, he joined the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn and transformed into a dynamic, thriving venue when the institution was experiencing difficulties. Formerly he was also artistic director of Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, head of exhibitions at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and director of the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art in Zurich. In 2003, he curated the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Among his most important exhibitions were shows with Douglas Gordon, Maurizio Cattelan, Angela Bulloch, and Cady Noland at Migros Museum and retrospective exhibitions with Bas Jan Ader and Rirkrit Tiravanija as well as larger surveys with Urs Fischer and Erik van Lieshout at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. At Kunsthalle Fridericianum, he curated major exhibitions with Pawel Althamer, Teresa Margolles, Thomas Zipp, Meschac Gaba, Monica Bonvicini, and Danh Vo and shows with Klara Lidén, Latifa Echakhch, Cyprien Gaillard, Nina Canell, and Navid Nuur among others. Back in 2012, he prepared the exhibition The New Public, for Museion in Bolzano.

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