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Carnegie International Curators put their heads together; Exhibition planning gains momentum
Photo of the curators taken outside of the Lawrenceville apartment.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- Through long visits, Skype chats, phone calls, and countless emails, the underlying structure of the 2013 Carnegie International is taking shape. Curators Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, and Tina Kukielski have traveled the world, meeting with colleagues and visiting artists’ studios, exhibitions, and art fairs both large and small in search of a global perspective on art today. Baumann, a Swiss national, will move to Pittsburgh with his family later this summer, marking the beginning of the final year of preparation for the International. What has emerged over the past year is an energetic collaboration that will yield a multifaceted, surprising exhibition opening October 5, 2013.

This is the first International organized by three curators, which, according to the curators themselves, is a process rooted in generous, intense, organic conversation. Kukielski explains, “Our first big collaborative challenge was learning how to collaborate. Getting to know each other's working styles and interests was key. This environment of interaction and discussion inspired our ideas for the Carnegie International apartment in Lawrenceville.” Baumann agrees, "When we started to work on the 2013 Carnegie International, we decided to dive into the big sea and expose ourselves to as much art as possible. It was about getting lost and regularly crawling back onto the shores to meet and discuss our impressions and thoughts, each time with stronger ideas, convolutions, and insights.” Byers adds, “One of the most difficult and rewarding aspects of this process has been the solo travel followed by group discussion. How do you convey an experience that is grounded in place, time, research, and any other subjective factors to two other curators who were not there? This process of advocacy has added a powerful force to the exhibition’s formation.” “It forced us from the beginning to be translators of our individual experiences,” says Baumann. “All of this is guided by a shared passion for the individual and the exceptional; for art that goes for dissonance, play, and beauty; and for artworks that stay in touch with you and the world out there. In short, art which is relevant to our lives.”

This collaboration among three curators has enabled the International to have a greater global reach than in past years. According to Kukielski, “The challenge from the start was to actually be international. We thought about the places in the world we knew and those we didn't. Choices were made early on to go to the Middle East, South America, Africa, and China, in addition to the more usual suspects.” Cities visited thus far for research include Barcelona, Basel, Beijing, Beirut, Belo Horizonte, Berlin, Białystok, Bogot, Budapest, Cleveland, Chicago, Dakar, Dubai, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Kassel, Krakw, Kyoto, Łdź, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami, Milan, New Delhi, New York, Osaka, Paris, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Poznan, Ramallah, Reykjavk, San Francisco, So Paolo, Shanghai, Sharjah, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Turin, Vancouver, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb, and Zurich.

Even as the International brings the far reaches of the art world to Pittsburgh, it remains firmly rooted in the city. At the Carnegie International apartment in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, artists, curators, writers, and the interested public gather to discuss some of the ideas shaping the exhibition and the larger world. The curators are also in the process of selecting other off-site exhibition venues across the city, and according to Baumann, as they develop the big ideas that will carry through the show, they agreed that the exhibition “would not drop on the city from out of nowhere…but will be developed in exchange with Pittsburgh, its people, and its urban fabric. The 2013 Carnegie International is as much about bringing Pittsburgh to the world as it is about bringing the world to Pittsburgh.”

Byers notes, “Pittsburgh is traditional yet idiosyncratic. This combination can be found in the exhibition as well. It’s an intimate city where experience is amplified and warm even though the look of it is often rough and fragmented. The warmth and inclusive spirit of the city affects the way we behave here and our ideas about what art can do.”

“Pittsburgh reveals itself to me more and more every day,” says New York City transplant Kukielski. “Sometimes we travel, but Pittsburgh is our everyday. Our International addresses the relationship between the city and the museum; lately we've been exploring this relationship on our blog and at the apartment. At night Pittsburgh really comes alive—in tiny, smoky bars, at art events downtown, in Oakland, or Braddock, or in people's homes that allow so much more room (and time) for entertaining than apartments in NYC.”

For Baumann, especially, moving to Pittsburgh represents a change of scene. What is Pittsburgh like to a European? “People ask me the same question in Europe. I always reply: I like Pittsburgh for being a real city with real people. It's no boutique destination, as I wrote in our blog; you don't fall in love the way you may fall in love with Paris or Rome, but Pittsburgh grows on you and the more you go there, the better you like it. To me, Pittsburgh has some Basel and Glasgow in it. It has a proud, wealthy, and art-loving bourgeoisie, it has a great industrial past; and the way Pittsburgh is now being transformed by re-inventing itself seems, at least to my European eyes, typically (and very positively!) American. ” As for his family, “It is going to be a unique and somewhat unexpected experience. There is not only the new language, but also that we will be able to explore a land, a culture, and an everyday life that we think we know, but actually don't." Asked how his children have responded to the city, "My kids really love Dick's Sporting Goods in Homestead, the homemade hamburgers, the toaster at the Lawrenceville apartment, the Steelers and the Pirates stadiums, the fitness trail at Frick Park, the yellow bridges, the Vietnamese restaurant, and the bikes we already bought."

Baumann, Byers, and Kukielski are expected to announce the artists in the upcoming Carnegie International in the spring of 2013. Between trips abroad, they will continue their discussions in Lawrenceville, and provide a window into their thoughts and planning process on the 2013 Carnegie International blog.

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