Current event

Art in Context #45:
What are collections good for?
Curatorial adventures for the 21st century

Iwona Blazwick in conversation with Magdalena Kröner (in English)

Monday, February 1, 2021, 7 p.m. (via zoom)

What do collections represent? What stories do they tell? Can collection displays be works of art? Curator and art critic Iwona Blazwick has made a significant contribution to the display of collections in museums and galleries by taking them on a series of curatorial adventures. In dialogue with freelance journalist and art critic Magdalena Kröner, she surveys the politics of collecting today; asks whether we can show art history without chronology; and if collection displays can be a form of artistic experiment. Iwona Blazwick was largely responsible for opening the Turbine Hall and rehanging the collection at the Tate Modern in 2000. Here, the story of modern art is no longer a chronological succession of ‘isms’ but arranged according to genres. As the director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London, an internationally renowned public venue for contemporary art, Iwona Blazwick has also created a special platform for ‘guest collections’ where artists, writers and communities are invited to curate private and public collections from around the world. The result is an interesting, multi-layered dialogue between the institution, the collection and creative practitioners.

Iwona Blazwick
Iwona Blazwick Photo: Christa Holka, Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery
Magdalena Kröner
Magdalena Kröner Photo: private

Iwona Blazwick

Iwona Blazwick is a British curator, art critic and lecturer. From 1997 to 2001 she was curator and exhibition director of the Tate Modern and since 2001 she has been director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Here she has curated, among others, the exhibitions The Adventures of the Black Square (2015), Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979 - 2017 (2017) and Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World (2018). She is the author of numerous articles and books on modern and contemporary art. Her publications include Cornelia Parker, (2013); and Carlos Bunga: The Architecture of Life: Environments, Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings and Films (2019). Her latest book (co-edited with Richard Noble), Liquid Sculpture: The Public Art of Cristina Iglesias will be published in March 2021. Iwona Blazwick has served on several juries, including the Turner Prize (1993). In 2008 she was a guest juror for the Wolfgang Hahn Prize and in the same year she was awarded the OBE. She has received honorary degrees from Goldsmiths College, London Metropolitan University, Plymouth University, and the Royal College of Art.


Magdalena Kröner

Magdalena Kröner works as a freelance art critic and author in Düsseldorf and the USA. A primary focus of her work is research on art scenes that develop outside of Western art metropolises, for example in China, South Africa, or Southeast Asia. Recently she has been concentrating on the development, semantics, and ethics of digital culture and technology and their social manifestations. She publishes her work in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Quarterly, frieze, Monopol, and Kunstforum International, among others. Her articles include Women on the Threshold, Reportage on the photography scene in the Arab Emirates (Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 2012) and Is it wrong to trust robots? (Frankfurter Allgemeine Quarterly, 2020). From 2005 to 2015, she had a second home in New York and worked there as a freelance correspondent for German media, including Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In autumn 2021 she will live and work in Los Angeles as a Thomas Mann Fellow in Mann’s former home for a few months.