Interview between Hannah Dewar/Tina Gverović. Excerpt from Inverted House, exhibition leaflet, Tate Modern, London, December 2013 – April 2014

Zaton, Croatia / London, UK
September 2013

From: Tina Gverović
Sent: 03 September 2013 15:45
To: Hannah Dewar
Subject: Exhibition framework…

Dear Hannah,

What is your reasoning behind the choice of the residency as a conceptual framework for this exhibition?

Best,

Tina.

 


 

From: Hannah Dewar
Sent: 04 September 2013, 13:28
To: Tina Gverović
Subject: RE: Exhibition framework…

Dear Tina,

The project as a whole started for me with my residency in Belgrade, so in many ways I’ve come full circle in my thinking. The residency process is also something that’s central to the agenda of the Project Space series at Tate: peer-to-peer collaborations with cultural organisations from around the world that are founded on two initial curatorial residency periods. Despite the obvious challenges of working with someone you’ve never met before, it’s curiously not yet been addressed by any of the collaborations to date.

Having chosen to engage with the residency as our conceptual framework for the exhibition, we decided to invite yourself and Siniša to work at Tate Modern for a period of time, hoping to explore the particularities of this format of artistic production in a critical way and reflect upon our own ongoing collaboration. Considering the importance of collaboration to your practice, we decided that you would be ideal voices to add to the conversation.

On my last evening in Belgrade, my co-curator Una told me that she felt like she had had the opportunity to undertake a

residency in her own city during the time that I was there, viewing it afresh with completely new eyes. Being a London resident yourself, I look forward to hearing whether you’ll have the same experience.

Very best,

Hannah

 


 

From: Tina Gverović
Sent: 04 September 2013 21:51
To: Hannah Dewar
Subject: On residencies…

Hi Hannah,

In taking up a residency in the city where you live, I suppose one of the things to think about would be what sort of characteristics might be said to ‘characterise’ or define a place, which without recourse to stereotype might seem quite impossible? We can also talk of taking a residency in your own city as taking on the position of a ‘foreigner’, which for me has always been an interesting position to take. It leads to possible multiple readings and perceptions of places. In our work, both Siniša and I are interested in developing different, ungrounded and shifting angles on the topics we work with. The state of being ungrounded is ubiquitous: it’s contemporary and familiar. In this case, ungrounded doesn’t mean unfounded. In fact, here the subject is founded on (and formed through) all sorts of experiences and histories that are also themselves unmoored, so that ultimately an ungrounded subject might be more likely to experience state-less (geographical, not mental) reverie rather than disintegration and disenfranchisement.

What are your views on the residency as a creative process and how does it influence the way in which you and artists work?

Best,

Tina.

 


 

From: Hannah Dewar
Sent: 05 September 2013, 18:20
To: Tina Gverović
Subject: RE: On residencies…

Hi Tina,

By nature, the residency is a creative process with advantages and limitations. Its spatial and temporal parameters – working in a fixed geographical environment for a fixed amount of time – can be constricting and liberating, unsettling and eye-opening.

For me, the residency was a really productive experience: a chance to meet extraordinary people and to reflect on my own views and practices and about those of individuals working elsewhere. As for its influence on artists: that’s probably a question for you rather than me, but I’m hoping it will be viewed as an opportunity – and a challenge.

Best,

Hannah

 


 

From: Tina Gverović
Sent: 05 September 2013, 23:37
To: Hannah Dewar
Subject: Museum collection…

Hi Hannah,

This will be my first time spending a longer period of time in a museum environment, so answering this question is difficult for me since the residency hasn’t yet begun.

Many artists these days make work within the framework of residencies which support production in terms of time and money. The work is often planned prior to their stay and it doesn’t necessarily reflect upon it, which is an interesting aspect of contemporary art production. I recently worked on a film that deals with issues related to belonging whilst on a residency at Baltic Art Centre in Gotland, Sweden. After the stay, a number of different locations that I’d encountered and/or filmed (in Croatia and Sweden) started to overlap, which complicated the work slightly. The film is still in process, although there have already been various ‘versions’. However, as I understand it, this forthcoming residency is as much about space for conversation and exchange as anything else.

Following on from this, it might be interesting to think a little about the museum as a space to think or work in, and to produce in – or for. Firstly, what is your interest in the museum and its collection as a framework for thinking – about research, interaction or larger international contexts? And secondly, you have – as a curator – the possibility to develop platforms for public debate and to create publics as much as provide for them. What ‘platforms’ or approaches to staging debate have you found to be especially valuable or productive, and how might residencies impact upon these?

Tina.

 


 

From: Hannah Dewar
Sent: 06 September 2013, 11:11
To: Tina Gverović
Subject: RE: Museum collection…

Dear Tina,

Working at Tate, whose collection is both a historical resource and a dynamic programme of contemporary conversations, I’ve long seen the museum collection as an important framework for thinking. It is in the simplest sense a research facility – a wealth of different international contexts – but it’s the museum’s capacity for public participation and engagement that is perhaps most interesting.

Considering the museum as characterised by three main components – the building, the collection it houses and its visitors – it is, in essence, a public resource whose primary function is interaction. There has always been much debate about the role and usage of the museum collection and these questions continue to interest me. How does the museum building function as a centre for activity, for example, and how are its resources negotiated on a daily basis by its public?

Within this context, one of the best platforms for debate is always one of open conversation between colleagues, partner institutions and international contexts – put forward by temporary exhibitions, collection displays and publications – with a means, as you say, to creating publics as much as providing for them. Whilst the Project Space series is a great place for these conversations, the residency format – which here involves bringing two active participants into the museum with a view to creating art instead of absorbing it – subtly alters the dynamics of space usage and raises a disjuncture between finished objects and works in progress. And as you’ve said, the residency as a space for production is as often an economic structure as it is a response to a specific locality.

Best,

Hannah

 


 

From: Tina Gverović
Sent: 07 September 2013 07:20
To: Hannah Dewar
Subject: Institutional parallels…

Hi Hannah,

Since in some sense we’ll be working on ideas related to living or coping with ‘unstable conditions’ and ever-present ‘temporary measures’, alongside un-anchored people and places, it might be important to mention the fact that the main building of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade has been closed to the public for ongoing renovation work since 2007. It’s itinerant in the same way that the semi-present figures in some of my paintings are.

With this in mind, and considering the apparent stability of Tate beside the fragility and uncertainty of many museums at present, can you say something about how the exhibition concept developed out of your experience of the parallels between both institutions?

Best,

Tina.

 


 

From: Hannah Dewar
Sent: 09 September 2013, 12:41
To: Tina Gverović
Subject: RE: Institutional parallels…

Hi Tina,

Whilst there are many similarities between each context, the museum building and collection – monumental, rich and architecturally significant in both cases – is, as you say, subject to vastly different social, political and economical structures in each location that govern its role and usage in unique ways. This, in turn, affects the way in which space is negotiated by different people for different purposes. What does the museum represent once its collection and public are removed from the equation? Whilst we have tried to reflect upon these parallels, drawn out of our collective experience, we have found the wider international context that we share to be more productive.

Best,

Hannah

 


 

From: Tina Gverović
Sent: 13 September 2013 09:50
To: Hannah Dewar
Subject: On closure…

Hi Hannah,

Perhaps we can close with this question…

Belgrade’s Museum of Contemporary Art has been closed for some time, and yet continues to function nevertheless, supporting and instigating very interesting work. Can you envisage, or fantasise about, the possible implications and outcomes of a period of closure for Tate Modern?

Best,

Tina.

 


 

From: Hannah Dewar
Sent: 13 September 2013,
To: Tina Gverović
Subject: RE: On closure…

Hi Tina,

Your question is a curious one, as with our new building rocketing up on the south side, we are already experiencing the effects of closure – in some small way. With the Turbine Hall – the museum’s iconic and loved feature – temporarily closed to the public, they are forced to navigate the architecture of the site in new ways, finding new strategies to engage with what it has to offer.

Very best,

Hannah

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