London, Oct. 2010 – ArtSlant's London Editor, David Yu, had the great opportunity of speaking with Chris Hammond, Director of MOT International, about his choices regarding the 2010 curatorial programming that MOT International has embarked upon. The 2010 program is an experiment in curation and exhibition challenging conventional and regimented gallery programming. Though a constantly evolving showing space is not a new concept within contemporary visual arts, MOT International’s approach to their concept of a year long show in constant flux whilst still operating as a commercial gallery is an exciting combination. The following interview came from their conversation.
Untitled (Part of The Z Archive series) (revision), 2010, Overlay print, vinyl sheeting, aluminium rail, Dimensions variable; Courtesy MOT International
David Yu: During our conversation you mentioned that MOT International decided on its current 2010 program as a response to the rigid template that one finds in most galleries. What were your original expectations for the 2010 MOT Program? Have you met your project aims?
MOT International: There were no expectations for 2010. If there ever was an aim, it was to remove any and all expectations operating at any given time in a gallery program that runs on a standard exhibition schedule.
DY: Can you elaborate on the initial inspiration for the shift in programming?
MOT: In 2007 MOT International experienced a break in its own history. Prior to that date, MOT was a non-profit space operating with Arts Council funding. Due to the interest in building stronger and longer lasting relationships with selected individual artists, MOT International now runs as a commercial gallery with a register of artists that we represent though, the ethos of MOT lives on. The gallery continues annually to work with young independent curators from the Goldsmiths Curating MFA (this year Becky Koblick and Hana Noorali have been working at MOT) in order to realize new and exciting exhibitions usually featuring emerging artists. It is because of this undying interest in the new and unknown that MOT International has taken a year to break with the gallery programming.
DY: Do you think your clients and audience responded well to such an unconstrained approach to exhibition structure? This structure shift would have also broken the routine expectation that viewers have to the nature of “exhibition”. Did you find viewers engaged with the space in a different way?
MOT: Clients have engaged with the program enthusiatically through discovering new artists and therefore collecting their work. Viewers have tended to visit the gallery more frequently to keep up with the change over of work. Emerging artists found it liberating to work under no structure where as more established artists seemed to not know where to enter. Curators seemed to view it as a case study in methods and this excited most.
Adam Thompson, Alex Robbins and Richard Clements, Installation view; Courtesy MOT International
DY: Through the curatorial concept you have also invited artists to make work in response to the 2010 Program. How have some of the artists responded to having their work shown in a non-static exhibition platform? How does having work tailored specifically to the program add/ help realize the original concept?
MOT: It is not about the artists responding to the program so much as the gallery becoming an empty vessel which in turn responds to the work. The gallery in a way becomes contextualized through the work rather than the other way around.
Beatriz Olabarrieta, Flexible Fantasy of Foreign Spheres, 2010, Plywood, elastic, LCD screen, yoga mat, Dimensions variable; Courtesy MOT International
DY: You mentioned before the daunting task of beginning this year’s program with essentially a ‘blank canvas’. Can you describe what your selection process was and how you and your team of curators have decided to ‘evolve’ the space over this year? (scanning through radio stations)
MOT: This year MOT International and the director Chris Hammond worked closely with independent curators Becky Koblick and Hana Noorali. Metaphorically we see the programme as scanning for radio stations when you are unsure as to what you want to listen too.
DY: Now that we have almost reached the end of 2010, will any elements of the 2010 Program carry over to 2011?
MOT: The quest for new exciting work will always carry through. The year has reinvigorated the importance of visiting artists in their studios and opening up dialogues.
ArtSlant would like to thank Chris Hammond and MOT International for their assistance in making this interview possible.