The Armory Show in New York has tapped three of today’s leading curators to organize various programming at its upcoming edition, set to take place in September 2023 at the Javits Center.
Eva Respini, the deputy director for curatorial affairs and chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, will curate the Platform section for large-scale installations and site-specific works. Candice Hopkins, the director and chief curator of Forge Project in Upstate New York, will curate the Focus section for solo- and two-artist presentations. Adrienne Edwards, director of curatorial affairs at the Whitney Museum in New York, will chair the fair’s sixth annual Curatorial Leadership Summit (CLS).
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“Each of their individual curatorial practices is phenomenal,” Nicole Berry, the Armory Show’s executive director, told ARTnews. “Each year, we’re looking for curators who will provide an interesting lens to look through, a perspective that’s unique and different. All three of these women have a great working relationship together.”
This year’s programming will again carry a thematic tie-in across all three projects, under the working rubric of historical narratives, ranging from how artist have worked to challenge the canon in Respini’s section to how emerging and established artists have worked to uncover hidden histories for Hopkins’s section. Tying that all together will be the summit lead by Edwards, which Berry said “is still in development, but the idea is that she’s going to respond to the ideas that come out of both those sections. Then those conversations that will happen in the CLS will have a correlation to what’s on view at the fair, as well as addressing issues that are relevant to the broader curatorial practice.”
Respini was the curator of this year’s U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which was dedicated to the work of Simone Leigh; Respini is also at work on a Leigh survey that is to open at the ICA Boston in March. Respini’s other curatorial credits include “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today” in 2018 and “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” in 2019, as well as solos for Deana Lawson, Firelei Báez, John Akomfrah, and Huma Bhabha.
In an email to ARTnews, Respini said, “Titled Rewriting Histories, the section aims to shed new light on practices that have at one point been considered outside of the historical canon, or challenges the very notion of a canon. It will be exciting to see how these projects interact with their environment to spark conversations among the works in the section and throughout the fair.”
Prior to joining Forge Project in 2021, Hopkins, a Carcross/Tagish First Nation citizen, was a closely watched independent curator. She was senior curator for the first two editions of the Toronto Biennial of Art, and served on curatorial teams for Documenta 14 in 2017 and the Canadian Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Other major exhibitions she has been a co-curator on include “Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts” in 2019, “Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now” in 2018, “Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art” in 2013, and “Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years” in 2009. Earlier this year, she was awarded the 2022 Leo Award from Independent Curators International.
In an email, Hopkins said, “The 2023 Focus section is an exciting opportunity to explore how artists utilize history as a material to establish new ideas and interesting cultural connections. I look forward to working with The Armory Show on this section that will closely look at artists both emerging and established.”
Edwards was co-curator of this year’s well-received Whitney Biennial, as well as the president of the international jury of the 2022 Venice Biennale. Her other curatorial credits include solo shows for My Barbarian, Dave McKenzie, and Jason Moran, as well as a series of performances by Wu Tsang, boychild, and Fred Moten. She was also part of the team that helped realize David Hammons’ large-scale public artwork Day’s End (2021), across from the Whitney.
In an email, Edwards said, “The Curatorial Leadership Summit brings together leading international curators to engage in important dialogues around contemporary art. This year, we hope to examine the ways in which curators can engage and support artists who remind us that the most compelling art and stories we tell about art are dynamically polyvocal, multivalent, flexible, and necessarily incomplete. With such an understanding, what is then possible from our respective vantage points, understanding our own particular stakes and responsibilities?”
This is the second time that the Armory Show has had a theme across its special programming. At the 2022 edition, the fair tapped curators Carla Acevedo-Yates, Tobias Ostrander, and Mari Carmen Ramirez to gear the Focus, Platform, and CLS programs, respectively, around Latinx and Latin American art.
“We wanted to build on that,” Berry said. “We wanted to pivot based on last year’s success. We’re mixing it up a little but that doesn’t mean we’ve abandoned what we looked at last year. And that’ll be the same moving forward; 2024 might be something really different, but we’ll still be looking at historical narratives.”