Okwui Enwezor, Venice, 2015
In advance of the 2021 exhibition, “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” join us for a discussion on Okwui Enwezor’s vision and life’s work. This discussion will feature Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Professor, NTU School of Art, Design and Media; Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami; Terry Smith, Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh; Octavio Zaya, independent art critic and curator; and moderator Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director of the New Museum.
Expanding on critical themes in Enwezor’s illustrious curatorial practice, this conversation will explore the interdisciplinary nature of his work as it bridges contemporary art, architecture, global histories, and cultural exchange. Taking cues from Enwezor’s expansive vision, this program seeks to honor and reflect on the many ways his career has shaped and influenced contemporary art.
Ute Meta Bauer (b. Germany/Singapore) is a curator and, since 2013, has been the Founding Director of NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and a Professor in the School of Art, Design and Media. Prior, she was Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT, Cambridge, and Founding Director of the MIT Programme in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT). She was a co-curator of Documenta11 on the team of Okwui Enwezor (2001/2002) and the artistic director of the 3rd berlin biennale for contemporary art (2004). In 2015, she co-curated with MIT List Centre for Visual Art Director Paul Ha the US Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale featuring video and performance pioneer Joan Jonas, which received Honorary Mention for Best National Pavilion by the Biennale’s International Jury. She was the expedition leader of TBA21-Academy The Current (2015–2018) exploring the Pacific Archipelago and littorals that are most impacted by climate change and human interventions.
Franklin Sirmans has been the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) since fall 2015. Since coming to PAMM, he has overseen the acquisition of more than a thousand works of art by donation or purchase. At PAMM, Sirmans has pursued his vision of PAMM as “the people’s museum,” representing a Miami lens, by strengthening existing affiliate groups such as the PAMM Fund for African American Art and creating the International Women’s Committee and the Latin American and Latinx Art Fund. Sirmans has organized Toba Khedoori (2017) and he was cocurator of The World’s Game: Futbol and Contemporary Art (2018). Prior to his appointment he was the department head and curator of contemporary art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 2010 until 2015. At LACMA Sirmans organized Toba Khedoori; Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada; Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting; Fútbol: The Beautiful Game; and Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation. From 2006 to 2010 he was curator of modern and contemporary art at The Menil Collection in Houston where he organized several exhibitions including NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith; Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death?; and Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966. From 2005 to 2006 Sirmans was a curatorial advisory committee member at MoMA/PS1. He was the artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans from 2012 until 2014. He was awarded the 2007 David C. Driskell Prize, administered by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
Terry Smith is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought, European Graduate School, and Lecturer at Large, Curatorial Studies Program, School of Visual Arts, New York. In 2010, he became Australia Council Visual Arts Laureate and the received the Franklin Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association (USA). With Okwui Enwezor and Nancy Condee, he was editor of Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity and Contemporaneity (Duke University Press, 2008). Smith is the author of many books including What is Contemporary Art? (2009), Contemporary Art: World Currents (2011), Thinking Contemporary Curating (2012), Talking Contemporary Curating (2015), The Contemporary Composition (2016), One and Five Ideas: On Conceptual Art and Conceptualism (2107), and Art to Come: Histories of Contemporary Art (2019).
Octavio Zaya is an independent curator and writer living between Boston and the Canary Islands. He is part of the Sharjah Biennial 15 Working Group, organized as a posthumous homage to Okwui Enwezor, under the Curatorship of Hoor Al Qasimi. He collaborated with Enwezor on In/Sight. African Photographers 1940 to the Present (Guggenheim), 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, and documental 11 (Kassel). Zaya serves on the advisory boards of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) and Performa, New York, and he is a member of the Editorial Board at Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art.