TrAIN Open Lecture: Alex Farquharson

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WHERE: Red Room, Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London (UAL) – 16 John Islip Street, London, SW1P 4JU – View Map

Chaired by Professor Paul Goodwin, Director of TrAIN Research Centre at University of the Arts London.

Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain, will present on approaches to curating that cross knowledges, geographies, histories and identities from the vantage point of contemporary art.

Contemporary art is here understood as a privileged, performative site for transdisciplinary enquiry. He will illustrate his presentation with references to exhibitions he curated and co-curated at Nottingham Contemporary (where he was Director until 2015), on ideas such as the imaginary of the ocean deep; the art, religion and political history of Haiti; the figure of Jean Genet; and art and ecology in the Americas; as well as exhibitions curated at the institution by artists themselves, including Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Mark Leckey and Glenn Ligon.

Alex Farquharson took up the position of Director, Tate Britain in late autumn 2015. Prior to joining Tate, Alex was Director of Nottingham Contemporary. Under his leadership (since 2007), Nottingham Contemporary became one of the leading visual arts institutions in the UK. Its programme has been known for unusual pairings of solo exhibitions as well as imaginative group exhibitions, many of which combine historic, modern and contemporary art. It also has a strong emphasis on debate, education and participation.

Alex co-curated Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions, shown recently at Nottingham Contemporary and at Tate Liverpool, and curated If Everybody had an Ocean at Tate St Ives and CAPC Bordeaux, and Aquatopia: the Imaginary of the Ocean Deep at Nottingham Contemporary and Tate St Ives. British artists he has worked with on solo exhibitions include Pablo Bronstein, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Jeremy Deller, David Hockney, Gary Hume, Mark Leckey, Richard Long, Gustav Metzger, Bridget Riley, Simon Starling, John Virtue and Gillian Wearing. He curated British Art Show 6 in 2005-6 with Andrea Schlieker.

He was on the selection committee for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 (Steve McQueen), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2011, and Paul Hamlyn Foundation – Awards for Artists in 2012. He is an independent writer and critic contributing to arts publications including Frieze, Artforum and Art Monthly. His publications include Isa Genzken (Phaidon), Thomas Demand (Prada Foundation), Sean Landers (Kunsthalle Zurich), and Richard Wright (Dundee Contemporary Arts), and he has also frequently written on curating. He was a visiting Tutor and Research Fellow, Curating Contemporary Art MA at the Royal College of Art, London (2001-2007). Presently he sits on the Arts Council Collection’s Acquisitions Committee, the Board of Raven Row, and Curatorial Advisory Committee of Harley Gallery/Portland Collection, Welbeck.

Alex studied English and Fine Art at the University of Exeter (1988-1991) followed by a Masters in Arts Criticism at City University, London (1992-1993). He began his career in mid 1990s at Spacex in Exeter, where he became Head of Exhibitions, then joined the shortlived Centre for Visual Arts in Cardiff has Head of Exhibitions in 1999.

The University of the Arts Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) is a forum for historical, theoretical and practice-based research in architecture, art, communication, craft and design.

In an increasingly complex period of globalisation, established certainties  about the nature of culture, tradition and authenticity are being constantly questioned. The movement of peoples and artefacts is breaking down    borders and producing new identities outside and beyond those of the    nation state. It is no longer easy to define the nature of the local    and the international, and many cultural interactions now operate    on the level of the transnational.

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