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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Ariana Martin

Graduate Project

Breath Variations (12 – 14 May) is a new body of work created by Irish artist Christopher Steenson for Flat Time House, the former studio-home of late British conceptual artist John Latham. Using sound, video, and transmission-based methodologies, Breath Variations will explore the materiality of time – its permanence and evanescence – and the power that attention has over its transmission and state of matter.

By manipulating and extending the sonic dimensions of Flat Time House, Steenson investigates the capacity of breath as a ‘least event’ – Latham’s term for the shortest departure from a state of nothingness – to punctuate linearities of time and space.

Artist: Christopher Steenson

Event: Sunday 14 May, 3pm: Artist Christopher Steenson in conversation with Dr. Sasha Engelmann (Senior Lecturer in GeoHumanities, Royal Holloway University of London).

MA curators: Thomas Cury, Cindy He, Salomé Jacques, Romy Lagesse, Napas Mangklatanakul, Ariana Martin, Liyin Wang, Hyora Yang

Portrait of woman in gray coat holding the collar close to her face

I believe in small moments of intimacy being crucial to how individuals navigate their surroundings and cope with existence; there is power in the collection of these moments. Curatorially, I’m interested in understanding how to create these intimate conditions; be it through being able to touch a work of art in public space, have a conversation over a meal, or listen to what our surroundings are telling us. I have a desire to build stories and create worlds, real or fictional. I want to construct spaces for people to explore, I want to write texts for others to read and relate to, I want to metaphorically and physically feed the hunger that exists in others' curiosities.

I’ve recently been more and more convinced that a curator is more akin to a journalist; a ‘participant observer’. Someone who claims to be telling a story but is actively creating one at the same time, just from their own perspective. Our duties and abilities go beyond putting this next to that. A curator researches, writes, mediates, schedules, and predicts. It’s about understanding why the connections that are being made are important or relevant. As a curator, growth is encouraged and as a human it is inevitable. Our environments don’t stop, and neither can we. But we can pause for moments of intimacy to help us make sense of it all.

After receiving a Bachelors of Architecture (BArch) from California Polytechnic State University in 2015, I lived in New York City, working for six years at an interior architecture firm. I am currently working on a collection of artist interviews that center around a one-off collaborative experience.

Image by John Dougan Nealon

room with a large monitor on a metal stand with three speakers at the sides and a door and window on the left side
untitled (thesamethesamethesamethesame)4', black and white, HD video (transferred to SD), broadcast monitor, 6-channel surround sound. Photography by: Ariana Martin
Black monitor with simple text displayed on screen
inhale, exhale (oi-io)inhale, exhale (oi-io) (2023) broadcast system (synchronised to the high and low tide times of the North Sea), broadcast monitor. Infinite duration (or until the moon leaves the Earth's orbit). Photography by: Ariana Martin
room with a large monitor on a metal stand with two speakers at the sides
untitled (thesamethesamethesamethesame)4', black and white, HD video (transferred to SD), broadcast monitor, 6-channel surround sound. Photography by: Ariana Martin
white table with metal legs, small tv monitor on top and paper underneath
John Latham archival video and documentsBig Breather (1973) 6' 40'', colour, silent, originally shot on 16mm with Big Breather archival documents. Photography by: Ariana Martin