Three questions for Victoria Noorthoorn
of the year’s highlights at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle will be an
exhibition of international drawings from the Deutsche Bank Collection
made after 1945. She talks with ArtMag about the fascination of the
medium of drawing and her love for Berlin.
||Since 2012 Victoria Noorthoorn has been a member of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council alongside Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, and Udo Kittelmann.
The curator, who lives in Buenos Aires, belongs to a globally active
generation of curators who are influencing current discourse with
idiosyncratic concepts. In 2011, she renewed the 11th Lyon Biennial
under the slogan “A Terrible Beauty is Born,” and she has presented
often overlooked South American artists and unexpected historical
perspectives in Europe. Visitors and critics alike were enthusiastic.
In November, Noorthoorn will curate THE CIRCLE WALKED CASUALLY, an
exhibition with international drawings from the Deutsche Bank Collection in the new KunstHalle in Berlin. We asked her three questions in advance.
ArtMag: Why is the medium of drawing (still) so relevant for contemporary art?
I choose to conceive drawing as the fundamental medium of contemporary
art. Drawing entails the idea of a project; it reflects the need to
propose a future change or transformation. It entails a projection in
time and space, and in the artist’s imagination is a vehicle of ideas
on art, the world and the artist’s own social situation. A drawing is
pure truth, or, if we follow Oscar Wilde,
a pure lie!, but it never deceives, it never says something other. It
is a medium that unfolds beyond its own materiality – paper - taking to
the breaking point its own parameters and its own autonomy. Drawing
implies transcendence: it is the basis for a project where diverse
disciplines and practices collide, making evident the endless potential
and possibilities that lie in this age-old practice.
perhaps, the discipline that most clearly reveals the artist's thinking
during the creative process. Generally, an artist who draws does so in
private, alone before a sheet of paper. The creative act manifests
itself in a single instant or through the process of trial and error
that is an integral part of all research. With very few means, the
imaginary aspect of the subject unfolds. Often, this entails responding
to and incorporating noise and information from the outside world; at
other times, the process of drawing serves to articulate the silence
and pause that allow for the later development of distinct stances or
narratives. The intimate nature of drawing, by which a world or a
beloved is revealed, or a shout of protest before a certain state of
affairs is voiced, is what, in my exhibitions I attempt to expose. The
viewer is invited to explore works that open up a world of – sometimes
contradictory – possibilities that range from questioning the very need
for the image to the urgency to communicate a stance on a given state
of affairs or of knowledge. If I may generalize, I love thinking of my
exhibitions as echo chambers that attempt to amplify the sound produced
by the multiple ideas expressed, initially, on a single sheet of paper.
And I am, in general, determined to explore the magic excess and
dissonance that images in art entail. How may images provoke? What
tools and strategies do they use to draw attention to larger concepts
and investigations? What is the image’s specific form of eloquence and
relevance? How does it transcend its own visuality? Is this
transcendence productive? What would the characteristics of an image
that formulates listening as the primary state of contemplation and of
perception be like? What would be the characteristics of an image that
formulates a radical questioning of the categories of time, space and
As a globally operating curator living in Buenos Aires, what is your relationship with Berlin and its art scene?
Berlin is one of today’s most fantastic melting pots, having attracted artists as magnetic and diverse as Tino Sehgal, Arturo Herrera, Alexander Schellow and Tracey Rose,
to mention but a few. Berlin has the fantastic possibility to be fresh
and new and young while remaining poignant and tough in its criticism
and demands. Living in Berlin implies assuming a voice that honors
history and the strength to enunciate meaningful utopias. Yet of course
I follow Berlin from a distance, as I live and work in Buenos Aires,
another utopist city at the opposite end of the globe!
Which aspects of the Deutsche Bank Collection fascinate you as a curator and member of Deutsche Bank’s art advisory board?
I have followed the Deutsche Bank Collection since my early days working at the Museum of Modern Art
in New York, some 15 years ago. Across the street on West 53rd Street,
small exhibitions from the collection were installed, and each time,
there were wonderful surprises to discover. Today, I find myself
experiencing the same attitude of amazement as I navigate this
important collection searching for those unique drawings that will
reveal a universe to the viewer in the exhibition that I am in the
process of constructing. And these unique works are indeed numerous!
And they haunt back, like ghosts, demanding their presence and
demanding an interpretation of their signifying excess – as all
meaningful images do. The collection is, of course, an open door to an
in-depth history of German contemporary drawing – and an exhibition on
this area would be fabulous to view! It includes, as well, many
instances of clarity on specific European movements and specific
American artists. And even though a few steps have been taken in terms
of representing a more global art history of contemporary art, as a
member of the bank’s art advisory board, I see lots to still explore in
this direction. I am, in this sense, very much looking forward to
working with the bank’s art department to assess, together, the
pertinence of so many images and so many artists that I would love to
see enter the Deutsche Bank Collection.