Prof. Dr Carolina Rito at the VanAbbe Museum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Exhibition view Catching up in the Archive, by Mariana Lanari, De Appel Amsterdam. May 2022. Photograph Carolina Rito

My SPACEX secondment to the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, was an opportunity to initiate fieldwork for the second iteration of my ongoing research project entitled Institution as Praxis. This is an interdisciplinary research project that investigates the epistemic capacities of curatorial programming in the expanded field of exhibition practices, against the grain of neoliberal imperatives and the coloniality of museum practices. At the Van Abbe Museum, I met with colleagues who oversee the curatorial programme – director Charles Esche, curator Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide and curator Nick Aikens – to discuss their curatorial priorities and responses to the decolonial debate. When I began my secondment, the multi-sensory collection exhibition Delinking and Relinking, curated by Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide, had just opened and provided a very stimulating and rich backdrop for these conversations. One day, Yolande and I sat in one of the exhibition rooms and teased out the multiple connections (some more visible, others more speculative) offered by the object on display and the curatorial set-up.

During the month-long secondment, I extended my practice review to other organisations in the Netherlands, including the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Head of Research Charl Ladvreugd) and Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam (Head of Agency for Architecture, Design and Digital Culture Francien van Westrenen), and visited many more. I also had the opportunity to speak with artists working on related research questions, such as Aldo Ramos – who had an exhibition at A Tale and a Tub (Amsterdam) – and Jeanne van Heeswijk (Rotterdam) – currently artist in residence at Bak in Utrecht.

This experience provided a rich understanding of the diversity of views on the role of research in contemporary art organisations, and the idea of repurposing exhibition studies for a study beyond exhibition-making. A discipline capable of investigating a wider arena of contemporary cultural practices.

Carolina Rito
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