Studiotopia Consortium is pleased to announce the appointment of Maja and Reuben Fowkes, who join the project as the curators of the Studiotopia Joint Travelling Exhibition starting in early 2022.
Since 2019, the intention of the Studiotopia project was to raise awareness and foster creative and critical reflections about ecological and societal challenges, such as climate change, migration, pollution, responsible consumption, health and well-being and much more. The starting point of the Studiotopia project and one of the core activities was its unique and long-term European-wide Art&Science Residency Programme. More than 13 artists and 25 scientists have been invited to team up for a 17 months-long residency programme. Our participants are based in 18 countries.
As the residency programme now approaches the last phase, the newly appointed curators will be assigned with the task to contextualise and showcase concepts, artworks, research questions, prototypes and educational performative interventions developed during the Art&Science Residency programme.
The different iterations of the travelling exhibition are co-organised and hosted together with the European partners Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art (Gdansk, Poland), Cluj Cultural Centre (Romania) and Bozar, Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels, Belgium), the latter acting as the the main coordinator of the travelling exhibition series. Appointed in September 2021, Maja and Reuben Fowkes will be involved in the close collaboration and curation of the 3 international exhibitions.
In conversation with the Studiotopia programme coordinator Ina Ciumakova, Maja and Reuben Fowkes said: “It’s a great opportunity to join the Studiotopia project as curators of the travelling exhibition and we’re really excited to discover the conceptual threads connecting the collaborative residencies that are already underway and to work with such an impressive and diverse group of international artists and art spaces across Europe. After all the lockdowns, during which we focused more on writing, especially a forthcoming book on Art and Climate Change, we’re especially glad to have the chance to immerse ourselves in curating a series of In-Real-Life exhibitions”
(I.C.) What's your curatorial approach or how do you position yourself within an art&science context?
(M.R.F.) “Faced with the systemic questions raised by climate breakdown, and as urgent solutions to ecological crisis slip further out of reach, no single branch of knowledge has all the answers, and contemporary art has the ability to bring together interdisciplinary thinking in unexpected constellations. Collaborations between artists and scientists are at their most valuable when they’re not seen simply as a unidirectional process of artists learning from scientists, but rather as a reciprocal exchange in which ideas and methods travel in both directions. It is the potential for just such confluences of knowledge that we aim to explore through the Studiotopia exhibition.”
(I.C.) Speaking of your curatorial work, how important are topics of ecology and sustainability?
(M.R.F.) “Artistic engagements with ecology, sustainability and the Anthropocene have long been at the centre of our research and curatorial practice, which we often approach through complex projects in which thematic group shows are in dialogue with discursive events, editorial platforms and excursions to sites of crisis and resilience. As we begin our work with Studiotopia, we are looking forward to working with each of the venues of the travelling exhibition to find ways to connect with local researchers and art scenes, as well as to engage multiple publics with the vital issues raised by the project.”
Maja and Reuben Fowkes are founders of the Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art and co-directors of the Postsocialist Art Centre (PACT) at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London. They are the authors of Art and Climate Change (Thames & Hudson, 2022), Central and Eastern European Art Since 1950 (Thames & Hudson, 2020) and editors of Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar (Sternberg Press, 2021). Their curatorial projects include the exhibition Potential Agrarianisms at Kunsthalle Bratislava, the multi-year programs of the Anthropocene Reading Room and the Danube River School, the group shows Walking without Footprints, Like a Bird and Loophole to Happiness, and a trilogy of exhibitions on the revolutions of 1956, 1968 and 1989. They also co-founded the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at Central European University, where they curated a series of interdisciplinary arts-led projects, including a conference on Vegetal Mediations: Plant Agency in Contemporary Art. They have written numerous chapters and journal articles, including in the Routledge Companion to Art and Climate Change, contributed to the exhibition publications of major museums, such as Ludwig Museum for Contemporary Art Vienna, ZKM Karlsruhe and Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, and given lectures and led workshops in prominent contemporary art venues, including MoMA New York, ICA London, Whitechapel Gallery, Pérez Art Museum Miami and MACBA Barcelona.