Stroom Invest Interviews / curator Florian Weigl
Florian Weigl (1985) is curator at V2_, Lab for the Unstable Media. As curator and researcher he is interested in the intersection between art, technology and it’s social impact. He joined the curatorial team in 2015 working on both presenting and co-producing works and research. He is among other things responsible for V2_’s public events series Test_Lab, initiated the live experiment series 3×3 and curatorial support during the short-term international residency program Summer Sessions.
Before joining V2_ he was part of De Verdieping, the cultural basement of TrouwAmsterdam, worked as programmer for art in public space at NDSM-werf in Amsterdam, has curated the Bright Collisions symposium about art and technology and the future of art at TodaysArt festival in The Hague, co-curated FIBER festival ’11 and ’12 and has worked with the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Non-fiction and Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.
Cybil Scott: What do you currently have going on?
Florian Weigl: I am currently in the middle on the 4th year of our 3×3 serie. A series I initiated in 2016 to give artists space, time and resources to develop three public live experiments making experiment, an essential part of every art practice, visible. Right now we’re in the middle of the serie with Jan Adriaans called ‘Operatic Chants in three acts’ in which he worked with machine learning and sound. To reflect on this serie V2_ is also making a publication of artist interviews with the first nine artists we’ve worked with. As part of a long-term research on Artificial intelligence V2_Lab is producing works, focusing on inequality in machine learning.
Besides that, I am working on an exhibition in support of a new publication about care- in which the exhibition focuses on ‘taking care’, of people, other life forms and technology, and showing how much they have in common.
In addition, I am always involved in the development of works in V2_Lab, from productions and commissions to our production residencies (of which the international Summer Sessions is a good example) and connecting our research internationally.
What’s something you’ve seen recently outside of the so called “art world” that’s gotten you excited?
A lot of artists I work with reflect on society and implications and meaning of technology. In this domain I see a fairly new trend in which artists are taking an embedded position in society, reflecting on the matters by doing rather than addressing it in the white cube and reflecting in this ‘safe’ environment. An exciting example of this is Jeroen van Loon’s Cellout.me in which he did research around the value and privacy of DNA by selling his own DNA via an online auction and in parallel trying to answer the questions that he raises concerning authorship, intellectual property, copyright, privacy, big data and ethics.
At V2_ we’d like to see makers and thinkers coming out of their studios and laboratories more often, to interact with people who live where technologies will have an impact. Being part of the social debate in which we can still determine what future technologies will look like. Something which Jonas Lund did at V2_ when he created “Operation Earnest Voice”, a performative office installation that uses social media to disrupt, influence and manipulate public opinion and discourse by setting up a live troll farm with control over numerous social media accounts aiming to make visible how social media is being used to distort the political discourse.
As you can see I get quite excited by artists that are challenging the art world’s strict conventions regarding what artistic practice, presentation and spectatorship can and cannot be.
Are you seeing any kitschy trends lately involving art and technology? How about really interesting ones?
Now that virtual and augmented reality have found their way into contemporary art, you can see that the technique and the performativity of the audience are still too much seen as spectacle. A kitschy trend I hope we would have passed by now. Where I start to find art and technology interesting, where V2_ has been focusing on since the start, is the point where we look beyond the blinding potential of new technologies and seeing what social issues we would like to solve and thereby what world we’d like to live in.
How do you think art and technology intertwine at this moment in time? How do you think it will change?
I see more and more inspiring collaborations that look beyond the illustrative capacity of ‘the artwork’. Artists and scientists are finally working together on an equal footing, bringing ideas much further. Something I hope to see more of.
Which artists affected your way of thinking about art (or life), either dead or alive?
Jonas Lund’s exhibition The Fear of Missing Out in which Lund created an algorithm, filled with data of artworks by the most successful contemporary artists, to generate a set of instructions how to make the most successful works of art. Lund created them step-by-step with the FOMO exhibition as result.
What’s your curatorial philosophy or mantra?
Development, further development, further development. Conversation.
For me it’s very important to continue working with the artists. V2_is a place where I am already part of the conversation and development in a very early start. Sometimes the first sketch on a napkin. The moment in which artists are thinking big before reality kicks in. A stage I love. After which I see the development. And am allowed to present the (first iteration of the) work. Often I can create the opportunity to present it afterward in a different context and maybe incorporate some elements that seemed impossible right after the moment reality kicked in.
The collaboration with Johannes Langkamp is a good example of this. After sending him to a residency in Shanghai in 2013 and presenting him at Ars Electronica in 2015 it turned out that the concept asked to be explored more. Something Langkamp was able to do with us last year which we presented as solo exhibition was Sun Tracing, with a number of newly developed works in Rotterdam.
What is your biggest strength as a curator, and flaw?
Especially in the context of V2_, my greatest strength (because I’m being able to be involved in such an early stage of the development) is that I can take the work further into different contexts and to new iterations. Being connected helps.
And as flaw, but I think this is universal, is a lack of time. For in depth research into hundreds of themes. Even while diving in deep I’d love to dive in deeper. Lack of focus. (This won’t ever change – even in periods I’m hugely focused I still want to have time to focus more). And on the other hand to see more, talk more with peers, artists, scientist, read more.
Is there any kind of art that makes you angry or fearful?
I sometimes tend to get a little angry about the lack of knowledge of art history amongst artists. I frequently find myself in a conversation in which I’m complimenting an artist on their amazing reenactment, finding out they only heard about the older piece just then and thought they’d come up with it themselves.
What words or phrases do you see repeated often in the art world, or that you yourself use?
artistic-, curatorial- …. Something I catch myself doing as well.
What artwork have you seen lately that really blew your mind?
KOHTEI, an art pavilion built in Shinshoji Zen Museum (by artist Kohei Nawa and architects SANDWICH). Contemporary meditative zen. In it’s architecture, the cinematic experience inside. Darkness. Detail.
What is your most treasured possession?
How do you think the art scene in the Netherlands compares to that which you’ve seen in the rest of Europe?
I feel that we are currently working in on many levels of visibly demolished infrastructure that in recent years has been driven by a great deal of love for art and hard work in the Netherlands. There is a lack of presentation places, galleries and art spaces that can present different art. But see a lot of signs that this is changing.
But I think we still have one of the richest cultural fields – and the history and infrastructure is amazing. If you only look at the Hague, the amount of sound and media artists living here is amazing. Even without a lot of room to present them.
What is your image of the future in 10-20 years?
I’m afraid we’ll see some darkness. But in the meantime I’ll try to bring in some brightness as well.
In a collaboration between Jegens & Tevens and Stroom Den Haag a series of interviews will be published with (inter)national curators, artists and critics participating in Stroom’s Invest Week 2019.
The Invest Week is an annual 4-day program for artists who were granted the PRO Invest subsidy. This subsidy supports young artists based in The Hague in the development of their artistic practice and is aimed to keep artists and graduates of the art academy in the city of The Hague. In order to give the artists an extra incentive, Stroom organizes this week that consists of a public evening of talks, a program of studio visits, presentations and a number of informal meetings. The intent is to broaden the visibility of artists from The Hague through future exhibitions, presentations and exchange programs. The Invest Week 2019 will take place from 17 to 21 June.