Celia Stroom initiated Heroines in 2019, a non-profit and non-governmental platform formed by women from different countries and artistic backgrounds. One of the main project of the organisation is a nomadic annual event that encompasses an art residency, a program of talks and an exhibition, all under the same name. This project takes place in a different country every year; this year, 2020, Heroines celebrates its second edition in Thailand. The project, that encouraged women artists to be multidisciplinary and to work collectively, is each year organised in just six months and it revolves around the concept of female intimacy in all its ways. Stroom curates the annual exhibition, that shows the works of twelve international artists, which have been working together at the art residency for two weeks. This exhibition is named “The Enclosed Garden”, a title inspired by the concept of “Hortus conclusus”, used in the medieval age in Europe to express a metaphoric representation of female intimacy and psychology in literature, philosophy, theology, art, crafts and architecture. “The enclosed garden” is marked by the multidisciplinary work (installations, performance, video, sound art, photography, perfume art, painting, drawing…) and for being installed in a private flat, far away from the white cube; also the exhibition opens only at night. In this interview, Celia tells us more about this thrilling project and the curating challenges that she faces in each edition of Heroines.
I dislike to call myself curator.
Indeed I have studied and worked for 15 years in collection care, exhibition management, museum management, however nowadays Curators in the field of visual and performing arts are mostly kind of agents, they gather artists, around a concept, they promote themselves and the artists and the concept and the audience are not the priority anymore. I defend another vision of this professional field.
A curator has the responsibility of inventing the future. And commits her/himself to insurrectionist initiatives, against white cubes, false artistic practices without innovations or egocentric practices, challenging assumptions, absolute convictions, thwarting mainstream ideas, promoting the margins over the center, the minority over the majority, the unknown and discrete over the fame, as well as posing curatorial and artistic "strategies of resistance", provoking a brand new debate, to offer up signs of hope and finally a place for singularity.
A Curator is human resources manager, he/she knows how to conceive a multidisciplinary team made of artists, exhibition designer, PR supervisor, etc around a concept that is first dedicated to the audience. The first question is “how to stimulate the interactions between the artists and the audience, the artworks and the audience and the members of the audience itself. How people get to know and understand each other better while they are participating to an exhibition show. I choose the verb “participating” as exhibition could be a place action and not only a place of contemplation.
Curator is also a researcher, and not a follower of cultural trend. Curator is a creator, he/she invents a storytelling, a space that triggers several physical, psychological, intellectual interactions. Curator is a bond among a collective of artists who are elected for a show, questioning them, challenging there perception, trying to enhance collaborations and exchange of practices among each other.
After having worked for more than a decade for other institutions, I came to the point of opening a place for curtors, cultural managers, thinkers, artists to re-think cultural events formats. This platform called HeroinesWave gathered mainly womxn who came to a common question: what should be an exhibition format? what sohould be a podcast? what should be a performance? what should be a film? we basically question how to awake the deep intimate part of the audience and the artists that has been hidden by years of liberalism, individualism, fear and shame.