How would you describe your curatorial practice?
I worked as a member of the curatorial team of the Inhotim Institute (Minas Gerais, Brazil) for over four years. It was there that I learnt almost everything I know about curating. Possibly, this is what is behind my special interest in commissioning new works, either small projects or large format pieces. I favor establishing a prolonged dialogue with the artists — in a moment when everything happens so fast and at incredible speeds, it is a privilege to have time to think in the field of contemporary art, to be able to establish unique relationships between artist and curator. To have the necessary time to single out the challenges we face, and to collaborate in debating and devising a project before bringing it into existence. That is the most fascinating exchange one can extract from contemporary art.
How did you arrive at your curatorial focus?
I cannot live without art. I do not have any talent as an artist, or the money to be a collector… I also do not see myself in academia and, right now, teaching is not an option for me. I do believe that academic discourses are often out of touch with reality in what concerns contemporary art… I love what I do, and I came to the place where I am in a very natural and gradual way. I deeply admire artists and their work, their capacity to devise and create. I look at them with admiration, appreciation, and respect.
Can you describe your method or practice methodology?
Curating is a very complex practice. It involves a constant and dynamic interaction between the curator and the artist, but also a specific relationship between the curator, the world, and a contemporary art scene that grows and transforms rapidly as it assumes a global and planetary dimension. These transformations are also changing the way we curate, and I believe one should always have this in mind — one should be able to “go with the flow”, adapting and opening ourselves to new requirements and duties, taking risks and stepping outside our comfort zones, but also taking the necessary time to look around and see. Observe more, talk less. I cannot say that my method goes behind the customary studio visits, research trips, investigation, exhibition visits, participating in global debates and curatorial studies programs, etc. Ultimately, my methodology is my everyday practice.
What inspires you about curating the kinds of artworks/aesthetics you work with? How do you see these as ‘expanding’ contemporary art/art forms, and where do you see them going as aesthetic tendencies or directions?
I feel inspired (or should I say motivated) by the artists’ work every single day.
How do you see the installations and exhibitions you curate in relation to the broader contemporary art field and aesthetic orientations in society? How would you describe their place, contribution, role or ‘urgency’?
Except for some occasional projects in alternative or non-profit spaces, my curatorial practice is intrinsically associated with the institutions I collaborated with, the Inhotim Institute and, more recently, the MAAT. For a “junior” institutional curator, it is not easy to have the visibility, voice, or the freedom we desire. We often must respect a program that limits our freedom to think and do things our way, confining our actions to the scope of a brand, and the choices of a particular administration. At the moment, I am not that concerned with thinking about how I contribute to the global contemporary art scene. I am not going after the great issues that drive the international art scene today, and I am not looking to find answers to questions that are often speculative, intangible, and out-of-the-way in what concerns the general public. I am interested in doing things that shine some light in specific contexts, telling a story or passing a message that create the possibility of a debate, producing knowledge or opening the space for critical thought, even if only within the institution I work for, or the city or region where it is implanted.
INÊS GROSSO is a Portuguese writer and curator currently based in Lisbon. She received her BA in Art History from the University of Porto and an MA in Curatorial Studies from the University of Lisbon in collaboration with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. From 2011 to 2015, she was part of Instituto Inhotim’s curatorial team, where she was involved in the conception, planning and coordination of collection-based exhibitions, new pavilions, and outdoor pieces. Currently, she is one of the curators of the MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, where she coordinates the institution’s international and public programs.
Recent curatorial projects: