Changing perspective and seeing the world with freshly attuned eyes
‘In a normative human body, we have two eyes, two ears and two nostrils, two arms and two legs. But we have only one mouth. That’s something. Non-verbal communication beats language. Our physical, sensory experience is more direct, probably also more profound, than everything that we can express in words.’ Clare Molloy is a curatorial fellow at the Gropius Bau in Berlin and is furthermore active as independent exhibition maker and author on contemporary art. She doesn’t present her ideas as if they were heavy objects; rather, she juggles with them. So we may have just one mouth, that mouth does have two corners, and hers likes to turn into a smile.
Molloy loves the combination of literature and visual art, is interested in sculpture, poetry, and the critical reflection that lights up in performances; she is interested in ‘the liveness’ of art. She completed a degree in English literature at Durham University; after that, she switched to visual art and obtained a Master’s degree in Curatorial Studies at the Städelschule and Goethe University in Frankfurt.
‘Oooh, no art historical background!? When my CV comes up among professional circles in Germany, it can raise surprised reactions. But the interaction between worlds, art forms and disciplines, precisely that exchange of knowledge brings along fresh perspectives. Maybe you can compare it with this: when you’ve seen a good exhibition and you’re outside again, or when you look up from a good book; then you suddenly see the world a little differently from before. You look with greater curiosity and receptiveness, with freshly attuned eyes, as it were. That has to do with the sensitivity of someone else’s perspective; artists’ or writers’ perspectives in this case. Highlighting that sensitivity in texts about art and through exhibitions – that, to me at least, is the dream.’
‘Reflecting developments at an international level is extra meaningful now: we all stand before big questions’
‘Reflecting developments in the art world is extra meaningful now,’ she says, ‘because you can see shifts everywhere, often in the light of a greater social interconnectedness. That is why it’s so good that the Mondriaan Fund does this, at an international level. We all stand before big questions concerning nationality, the construction of boundaries, the fragility of nature. In the Netherlands, you see the search for future scenarios in a smaller fine art institute like De Appel, but also in a museum dealing with a major collection such as the Stedelijk in Amsterdam. Sofia Hernández, director of Witte de With in Rotterdam, spoke very inspiringly about the role of education, not as something extra, but as a programmatic core. At the Gropius Bau we strive for the same thing: an enlivened discourse between artists, professionals and public. It’s a challenge, as an institute, to perform that dance with all partners. Stephanie Rosenthal has been director since last year; looking back to the past of the Gropius Bau as a famous Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) with an attached institute of education and not only showing collections but also hosting studios in the building, she has derived the great idea of bringing the production of art inside again. After Wu Tsang, Otobong Nkanga is the second artist to be the In House: Artist in Residence with us for a year, and who is also part of the team.’
Molloy speaks about two appointments that she is looking forward to. Together with the Mondriaan Fund, she will go to the TextielMuseum (Museum of Textiles) in Tilburg, which houses not only exhibitions but also the TextielLab. This is where Nkanga makes the tapestries for her spatial installations. The lab inspires artists, designers and architects, but that is not all; it also welcomes visitors at the production of designs. In doing so, the Lab sets an example, Molloy thinks. After returning to Berlin, Molloy looks forward to the new live film performance of And Now The Screen Is Struck By Lightning by the artists Peter Cant and Krzysztof Honowski. Molloy is curator of the performances on 15 and 16 June, ‘a mix of sound performance and filming, music, actors, exuberant costumes, props, trees and public,’ lasting two days and taking place at TROPEZ, an art space in a public pool in the open air, under the sky of Berlin. Will it be splashy? Molloy: ‘You’ll want to be there’.