Boris Kostadinov won the ICI open call, funded by Works.io and the Zucker Art Collection, for a curatorial residency in Budapest. Here he gives us some deeper insights into his curatorial practice and talks about general criteria when it comes to reviewing artist portfolios.
Originally you are from Sofia now living in Berlin and you are very well connected and actively participating in the local art scene here. Can you tell us some strategies as a curator but also as an artist to get visible and to be involved in an art scene in general?
Boris: When moving from one place to another, the most important thing is if you can give yourself enough time to understand the local circumstances and the specific relationships that are valid for this location. Of what people are interested, what provokes them, how they have fun, what exhibitions they attend, what newspapers they read, etc. And then - what are the important art institutions - museums, galleries, foundations, artistic groups or independent spaces and collectives and why they are important precisely for that cultural landscape.
This is the most unproductive period (because you do not create any specific new projects) but at the same time this is the most pleasant time because you can learn and discover. The best thing is if you would make contacts and friendships with people whose work you respect and who have a real presence in this particular cultural environment.
From left: Curator Boris Kostadinov, Curator Rona Kopeczky, Abe Han Co founder of works.io, Patrick Urwyler Art Historian & Owner of Chimera Project Gallery, 2015
There is no universal strategies (except if you're not a superstar). Very often I can hear the story of a relatively thriving emerging artist from New York who had moved to Berlin but there his/her career is not going particularly well. And this is normal. Berlin is not New York and New York is not Berlin. In a relatively well-connected art world, the local specificities remain, and I think this is good.
You must choose to move to a place that corresponds to your plans and ambitions. Whether you want to be well placed in the market or you want to work with public institutions and museums. Whether your work is based on extensive researches or it is dynamic and involves a lot of different projects. All this is very important when choosing the place.
“You must choose to move to a place that corresponds to your plans and ambitions.”
Exhibition view: TWEET KIM IL-SUNG!, IG BILDENDE KUNST, Vienna, 2014 (photo: Kostadinov)
When it comes to review an artist portfolio, what is the first thing you look at (artworks, artist statement, CV, project proposal, etc.)?
Normally first I look at the works and I read the texts attached to them. If they grab my attention, I'm even more intrigued to read the artist statement. If it is impressive, I carefully read the CV. It is important to know artist's experience, in which exhibitions participated, with which institutions and curators he/she has worked before etc. It's almost as important to the understanding of his/her interests or preferences as the visual material in the portfolio.
What is your advice on how a professional portfolio should look like?
For example I like artist portfolios that are structured to facilitate their consideration and understanding. I mean, it is much better if the portfolio is divided into several important and major topics and issues that concern the artist, rather than a strict chronological order by the date of creation of the works. It is very important that the statement is not too long and to be clear and informative.
Who are 3 emerging artists to watch for this year?
I could list more but lately I'm intrigued by the work of these three artists: