Editor / Li Ruixuan
Florian Weigl works as curator and researcher and shares insights into his curatorial practice and V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media’s way of collaborating. He joined the curatorial team in 2015 working on both presenting and co-producing works and research.
Curatorial projects at V2_ he did include the live experiment series 3x3 he initiated, and amongst others the group exhibitions The Gig is Up (2016, co-curated with Sarah Cook), Latent Spectators (UNArt Center, Shanghai 2019, co-curated with Iris Long), Intimate Observations (with Museu0 at Ermida Of São Roque, Tavira 2020,) and To Mind Is To Care (2020); solo projects and exhibitions Jonas Lund's Operation Earnest Voice (2018), Philip Vermeulen’s The Physical Rythm Machine (2017 at Ars Electronica, 2018 at V2_) Marnix de Nijs' Ghosted Views (2019) Driessens & Verstappen’s Pareidolia (2020) and Johannes Langkamp's solo exhibition Sun Tracing (2019) and is among other things curating V2_’s public events series Test_Lab.
He is also author/editor of publications like 3×3 Live experimenteren (2020, V2_Publishing with Jochem Kootstra) Art and Care (2021, V2_ written with Dora Vrhoci) and offers curatorial support in the development of new productions during residencies like the short-term international residency program Summer Sessions.
The most valuable collaborations, for me, are always the ones that leave room to learn, reflect and change course. In collaboration, I find it important to reflect throughout the process enriching the research from different points of view. When I embark on a collaboration my main consideration is “How can we focus on something that benefits all involved parties on a long term and sustainable level? Can we give form to long-term research, can we reformulate goals? Can we change the focus in the process, leave room for reflection, feed new ideas into the trajectory?”
Personally, I’m always defining questions that I want to investigate which emerge from personal research, books, conversations with artists or theorists. Life, an unstoppable flow of questions that inform each other continuously. Within the research topics, V2_ has been addressing topics such as Artificial Intelligence, climate change, and the impact of (bio)technology we look at how these influence reproduction, food supply, and mobility. We look at the far-reaching consequences they will have for the distribution of power and wealth. Equality has become an important topic for us and will be in the coming years, whether we’re talking about it in relation to Artificial Intelligence, “caring” with regard to bio-equality, or probably going far beyond those fields.
A good example of how a collaboration centered on a theme as bio-equality can take shape is the Smart Hybrid Forms project, a four-year research project that will take place in collaboration with artists Špela Petrič and Christiaan Zwanikken, the Vrije University Amsterdam, Rietveld Academy, Zone2Source, Waag, and Artis. Especially since it has recently made its first steps in the public eye at V2_.
Dutch artist Christiaan Zwanikken combines artistic and technological experimentation in his work, which is a very strong and successful element in his practice. He is growing a variety of red-leaved basil plants under hyper-gravitational conditions. After a series of prototypes, he has moved his entire installation from his studio to V2_, making the process visible for our audience for an entire month, 24/7 – because you can see it through the large window on our ground floor. We show it not as a finished installation, but as “work in development.” Every step it goes through and all the experiments the artists conduct are visible to the public. Parallel to this research, scientists from the Vrije University are working with him on the results of the experiment. Researchers from the art academy reflect on Zwanikken's artistic process. They all constantly exchange information about the developments, adding to the conversation.
Right after installing the piece at V2_, I hosted a public conversation with Zwanikken as an additional layer. We will do the same after the working period, demonstrating this essential part of every art practice to our audience. In short, we show how an artist like Zwanikken works, and we also create a room for feedback, the conversations with researchers and the public feeds the project with new ideas.
To Mind Is To Care is an example of how the theoretical research done at V2_ can also guide the development of new works. The book To Mind Is To Care published by V2_ in 2017 was taken as the starting point for an exhibition with a strong focus on “Caring for,” on taking care of people, other life forms, and technology. The book in itself is already a very strong interdisciplinary study of “care,” and we envisioned the exhibition as the second chapter of long-term research on “Care.” Thus, we were able to develop four new works. The conversation-series called Who Cares? added a deeper layer of research. In these sessions, the artists participating in the exhibition talked with authors who have contributed to the publication. The works in the exhibitions, the conversations between artists and researchers that were organized parallel to it, and the results of these actions offered an insight into what caring-for in the practice of artists means and how they use it to investigate “care” themselves. The works provide insights into the preconditions for taking care of something or someone, but also, for example, reflect on how we care for our technology and how it, in turn, can provide for people. In turn, we reflect on this process by publishing the continued curatorial research in the booklet Art and Care: Reflections on the To Mind Is To Care Exhibition, which is in fact the opening move for the third chapter of research.
Are there new ways to co-create that go beyond working with artists, scientists, and feedback from the audience? I think there are. An interesting case of co-writing and even co-creating is “The Critical AI Manifesto,” an online tool developed at V2_Lab to position creatives in the vast and complex world of AI. CAIM, as it is called in short, is a way to create imaginative and critical dialogues about the impact and governance of Artificial Intelligence. CAIM is a tool that allows you to compose a personal manifesto by browsing through and selecting statements. We gathered statements from collaborators close to us, discussed them with a peer group, and have opened them up to everyone at https://caim.v2.nl/ This is directly a call to action for everyone: “Join us in writing C.AI.M. Anyone is welcome, except if you are an AI.”
There are two other inspiring collaborations that V2_ is involved in and that need to be mentioned in regard to different ways of collaboration. For ten years V2_ is collaborating in a network of cultural organizations all over the world on short-term art and technology residencies for emerging artists. These Summer Sessions, support production residencies abroad. We exchange artists and place them in a highly productive atmosphere with support, feedback, and expert supervision in which the residents develop projects from concept to presentable work, ready to show. It is a way to really kick-start an artist career, connect with international organizations but also a great way to take the first steps in a longer collaboration with these artists.
The final collaboration I want to share is a little closer to home, in Rotterdam. With the shared big mission of making art accessible to a broad audience, six art institutions in Rotterdam have teamed up and collaborated in “Kunstblock.” CBK Rotterdam, MAMA, TENT, V2 Lab for the Unstable Media, Melly (formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art), and WORM try everything to put art on the map for everyone including our weekly art night (in Dutch Kunstavond) in which we open all of our museums for free on Friday night to start the weekend a little different. The programme connects art institutes and outdoor art festivals. It covers topics from our yearly program, hosts art “talk shows,” and embraces art forms like performance art outdoor art festivals. All six organizations approach this in their own ways, and it works. It does bring in new audiences.
For me, this collaboration is important because it reaches out to other audiences, and this might enable new developments. We can gather new feedback about the experiments we organize. Giving the artists space to share their developments live with an audience to me remains an essential part of every art (and research) practice.