A quote can often be used as an excellent ice-breaker. But few quotes are as enlightening or good conversation starters as this programmatic definition by Hans Ulrich Obrist (1968, Switzerland): “The term curator has become overused. I prefer the German word Ausstellungsmacher (maker of exhibitions) or J.G. Ballard’s notion of ‘junction maker’ – making connections between objects, non-objects and people.”
Questioning the meaning and scope of contemporary curatorial practices – which is also linked to the work of Suzanne Cotter, as director of the Serralves Museum – lies at the heart of this discussion with Obrist, artistic director of London’s Serpentine Galleries.
One of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s preferred tools for ascertaining facts is the published public interview: as employed in his famous “marathon” interviews with Rem Koolhaas and Olafur Eliasson. One of his most recent works is Extinction Marathon: Visions of the Future (2014), a series of discussions about the humanities and sciences - areas in which he has been heavily involved, as demonstrated by his series of interviews with such diverse personalities as Peter Cook, Simone Forti and Kim Gordon. This latest work was co-written with the artist Gustav Metzger (who has researched such matters as species extinction and climate change) and also involved Gilbert & George, Yoko Ono, Susan Hiller and Katja Novitskova, amongst others.