London

Can Instagram‘s Algorithm Curate an Exhibition Better Than a Human? A London Show Aims to Find Out


What happens when an algorithm curates an exhibition? It’s a question that Laura Herman, a doctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, is unpacking in “The Algorithmic Pedestal,” a show she has spearheaded at J/M Gallery in London. 

She has invited two curators, one human and one machine, to bring together works for display by drawing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access collection.

The living curator is London-based artist Fabienne Hess, who has picked artworks related to the theme of loss, calling upon such universal human experiences as patience and curiosity. Her array of works are part of “Dataset of Loss,” a collection of images (including some of her own) that she has built over three years to counter algorithm-powered perceptions. 

One of the pieces selected by Fabienne Hess for “The Algorithmic Pedestal.” André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, Louis Revoil (1865–75). Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005.

The exhibition’s other curator is, well, Instagram. Since November 2022, organizers have uploaded images from the Met’s collection of public domain works to the @thealgorithmicpedestal account on Instagram. Whichever posts the platform’s algorithm opted to display in other users’ Home feeds are what made it into the show. 

For Herman, the exhibition, which also serves as her doctoral project, is not the only example of curation exercised by algorithmic calculation. In her view, Instagram’s “‘black box’ algorithm” is already influencing its “users’ experience of visual culture.”

“Many of these algorithmic platforms,” she said, “were not created with the intention of artistic display. They have very different goals: enabling connection between friends, selling ads, gaining attention, serving as a marketplace, and so on. This means that the underlying formulas according to which they operate are not tuned to artistic considerations of aesthetics, beauty, novelty, or even creativity.”

A preview of works picked by Instagram. Photo: @thealgorithmicpedestal on Instagram

In effect, she added, “We are outsourcing decisions about our visual culture to an inanimate machine with very different ways of seeing.”

Such a view into a social media platform’s “perceptual mechanisms” is all the more pressing, in Herman’s view, as A.I. generators, fast gaining in popularity, are bound to generate a bounty of content in need of sorting or curating. Artists, too, might feel compelled to create work preferred by algorithms.

Thus the exhibition’s interactive elements, including QR codes which visitors can scan to receive prompts about the exhibition, and submit their reflections on the differences between Hess’s and Instagram’s curation, and how these different views shape what and how they see. This audience impact will inform Oxford Internet Institute’s ongoing research into the capabilities and biases of recommendation algorithms—an “urgent” issue, added Herman, as visual culture becomes ever-more intertwined with machine intelligence.

“The ever-expanding sea of content will be impossible to traverse without the ability to consume thousands, if not millions, images in a nanosecond,” she said. “Of course, no human has this ability, leading us to become completely reliant on the discernment and decision-making of algorithmic platforms.”

“The Algorithmic Pedestal” is on view at J/M Gallery, 230 Portobello Road, London, January 11–17, 2023. The exhibition is free to attend.

 

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Parallel Shows in London and Berlin Conjure Up Political Utopia, Using A.I. and Celebrity Deepfakes


This will sound terribly jaded, but, in the spirit of honesty: artists Annika Kuhlmann and Christopher Kulendran Thomas presented two types of exhibitions I normally would have walked out of.

On the first floor of their show at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art is a political video documentary; on the second an all-too familiar Ab-Ex relaunch. So many biennials later, I’d rather read about a political uprising in a book by an anthropologist than hear about it from an artist. Abstract painting, for its part, can be enjoyable in a straightforward way, but, these days, it is often employed not because of what it is, but because of who made it. These kinds of encounters are often with art that doesn’t need to be art, but rather art that is promoted simply because it supplies a window onto a subject of importance.

“Another World,” where the focus is on the Tamil Tigers, an ex-militant organization once based in northeastern Sri Lanka, is not that. Rather, Kulendran Thomas and Kuhlmann’s exhibition is so self-conscious as to what it means to think through and with art—and so forceful in that self-consciousness—you cannot help but be intrigued. And so I stayed; it stayed.

Christopher Kulendran Thomas The Finesse (2022) in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann. Installation view of the exhibition Christopher Kulendran Thomas. “Another World” at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Photo: Frank Sperling

Kulendran Thomas, a Berlin-based artist of Tamil descent, alongside his German collaborator Kuhlmann, created “Another World” as two parallel exhibitions simultaneously on view at KW and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London. Its central work, The Finesse, a newly commissioned video work, is projected onto a mirror, and facing it is another screen showing slow-panning footage from a forest planted by the Tamil Tigers. Sandwiched in between the two are the viewers, collapsing three image-situations into one. The video itself is based partly on early 1990s archive footage featuring a member of the group who speaks with other-worldly eloquence about the Western fictions of democracy and freedom. A democracy should allow us to choose between different systems, she says, but in the West, there is only one. Her wit and charisma are of a type made for political influencing; her TikTok would be irresistible—and this, partly, is what the work is about. 

The narrative of Tamil Eelam’s independence movement (a proposed autonomous Tamil state that the Tamil Tigers were fighting for) is neatly slotted into the context of the media spectacle of OJ Simpson’s trial, which took place at the same time—so neatly that I am not sure which parts of the film are authentic, and which not. It is not so difficult to manufacture a VHS grain, recreate an old Yahoo search, nor, it turns out, render a deepfake of Kim Kardashian, who appears in The Finesse, though slower, more immovable, and perfectly mesmerizing. With the same eloquence as the young Tamil, and with reference both to her Armenian roots, and, indirectly, to her early adjacency to the media vertigo of the Simpson trial, Kardashian’s avatar argues that certain people are less prone to believe in the fictions of capitalist hegemony. Certain circumstances—such as that of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, we can infer—require you to be more realistic when it comes to how stories are fabricated as truth in newsrooms and on the internet.

Christopher Kulendran Thomas The Finesse (2022) in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann. Installation view of the exhibition Christopher Kulendran Thomas. “Another World”
at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
2022. Photo: Frank Sperling

In another segment of The Finesse, contemporary recordings follow another young Tamil investing in the legacy of the once-imagined Eelam state, now more than ten years lost. But the possibility of that history and its politics to become wearable as an identity for the young woman in the present is put into relief by a phone call she gets from an older friend or relative. It was a fantasy we had, says the voice on the other end of the line, who questions what it is that the younger generation expects to get out of identifying with it now. And the viewer— themselves caught inside the projection—wonders too.

It is through such sober, whip-smart interjections that Kuhlmann and Kulendran Thomas consistently install self-consciousness into their narrative while smugly escaping the dangers of romanticism. What I like about the work is that it does not allow us to take its politics at face value; rather, it is laced with an irony that has generally not been tolerated in the art world since the DIS-curated Berlin Biennial in 2016 (where Kulendran Thomas also participated). There is a critical tension without which we would risk collapsing into the neo-essentialisms of post-truth. Eloquence, charisma, and charm, too, are art forms, which each cease to function as modes of manipulation once we accept them as such. In parallel, the extent to which these conversations and monologues are scripted, made deepfake, or not, likewise loses importance.

Upstairs, Being Human, a video work from 2019, is screened on a translucent wall, dissecting the space. The rooms on either side of it are lined with the abstract paintings, which, it turns out, are generated by AI and executed by Kulendran Thomas’s studio, as are their sculptural counterparts. Climaxing like a pop song, the screen occasionally lights up to reveal the other side of the room. Art and modernism are part of the same ideological image circuit as Kardashian and Taylor Swift (whose deepfake reflects on the possibility of authenticity in Being Human) and the propaganda machines that would render the Tamil Tigers terrorist insurrectionists, or not. The theoretical implication is that we are completely immersed in the simulacrum, but it is also plain beautiful; as an experience, enchanting.

Christopher Kulendran Thomas The Finesse (2022) in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann. Installation view of the exhibition Christopher Kulendran Thomas. “Another World”
at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
2022. Photo: Frank Sperling

In The New York Times, critic Travis Diehl wrote about the London-chapter of the exhibition, a mirror of the KW show. “If Kulendran Thomas genuinely aims to offer new political possibilities, count me as a skeptic. If his goal is to ruin contemporary art, he just might,” he says. Here, Diehl refers to the zombie abstraction that is part of the installation of Being Human, and, perhaps, to the generally unplaceable morality of the tone. But this is far from a threat to contemporary art. Rather, after a summer where structure, relational aesthetics, and good intentions stood in for artworks at ruangrupa’s Documenta 15, “Another World” retains a medial self-consciousness that presents a hopeful glimpse for its future. The element of spectacle in both works—The Finesse peaks in an exhilarating rave scene—might have come across as cheap in its pop appeal, but it is precisely this hint of cynicism that makes both works at once disturbing and intelligent.

In recent years, the discourse around politics and art has seen a loss of distinction between the sphere of representation and reality, taking, for instance, images for actions, depictions, or reflections on violence as that violence itself. But “Another World” does not let reality become subsumed by its image; instead, it asks the audience to continually observe the line between the two, even as it blurs. And the experience of sitting inside of Kuhlmann and Kulendran Thomas’s infinity mirror, oddly, makes you quite sure of what parts of reality that survive the spectacle of media and what truth rises to the surface of a deepfake. There is so much, in fact: the intelligence and humanity of the protagonists (real or not); the pleasure and fun of imagining another world, and in being surrounded by images of it; how political dreams and artful fictions can overlap in certain moments, and in others, crucially, diverge. And while you may not be able to spot the difference, you will feel it.

“Another World” is on view through January 22, 2023, at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London, and through January 15, 2023, at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

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Elizabeth Neel Grew Up Painting With Her Famous Grandmother. Now, Her New Abstractions Are Getting Attention in New York and London


Elizabeth Neel was eight years old when she got her first set of oil paints, a Winsor & Newton paintbox, as a gift from her grandmother, the late, great portraitist Alice Neel.

Neel’s earliest painting experiences were with Alice, working side by side. But there was never any pressure to follow in her footsteps.

“I liked to draw a lot and she wanted to encourage that, because she thought I was good and she had a connection with me. We had a lot of fun together,” Neel told Midnight Publishing Group News. “She was a great grandmother, even though she never allowed anyone to call her that. She was always Alice to us.”

“A lot of people will say to me, ‘It must be hard that your grandmother was always so famous’—but she wasn’t,” Neel added. “For me, she was this intelligent, charming human who made these beautiful, insightful pictures that we lived around all my childhood. I think it would have been really different if she’d been a man and she’d been properly famous—that could have been oppressive.”

Elizabeth Neel, Dog Dog (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Dog Dog (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Instead, Neel, now 46, was able to enter the art world on her own terms, first getting a certificate at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, followed by an MFA at Columbia University in New York. She’s shown her abstract paintings regularly since 2005, and she enjoyed a 2010 solo show at SculptureCenter in Queens.

The past few months, however, have been a particularly busy time, as Neel was preparing for not one, but two solo shows. “Arms Now Legs” is currently on view at her New York gallery, Salon 94. “Limb After Limb,” featuring paintings she originally planned to exhibit in a deconsecrated church, will debut next month at Pilar Corrias, Neel’s London dealer.

“The Salon 94 title references certain kind of transformative imagery in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, and the show at Pilar’s is a more John Milton-esque image of the world in a transformative state of turmoil, so I see the two as very connected,” Neel said. “Given the way I work, which is organically with a set of ideas, it was impossible for them not to be related. Everything that I’m reading about or thinking about or listening to goes into the work.”

Elizabeth Neel, Stranger's End (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Stranger’s End (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Each piece starts with raw canvas and a primer coat of clear acrylic polymer that keeps the painting from sinking in all the way through the fabric. It also allows Neel to use white to create lighter areas against the background, many areas of which she leaves untouched, to “preserve a lot of air in the canvas,” she said.

But unlike her childhood oil painting sessions with Alice, Neel chooses acrylic paint to create her many-layered works.

“When I worked in oil, it took so long for every layer to dry that I would get out of the headspace I needed to feel a kind of continuity in the painting,” she explained.

Neel has a deep bag of tricks at her disposal to achieve her complex compositions, sometimes folding the painted canvas to create a Rorschach-like effect, and employing a wide variety of tools in her mark-making. “I use rollers, I use rags, I use my hands with rubber gloves on—and once in a while, I do use a brush too,” she said.

Elizabeth Neel, Exchange Principle (2021), detail. Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Exchange Principle (detail, 2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Neel has been living and working almost exclusively at her childhood home in rural Vermont, pressing the barn space above her parents’ garage into service as her studio. The change of scenery from her longtime home in Brooklyn proved inspirational.

“It was incredible to be able to step out into a snowy landscape or a sunny world of grass and flowers. Much more refreshing than stepping out onto a concrete slab with loud noises,” Neel said. “It felt almost like being a hermit or a monk. It was frightening, to a degree, to begin making a show without any human context, but it was a challenge that ended up being really good for me.”

Elizabeth Neel's Vermont studio. Photo courtesy of Salon 94, New York.

Elizabeth Neel’s Vermont studio. Photo courtesy of Salon 94, New York.

She made one of two trips back to New York for the opening of her grandmother’s critically acclaimed retrospective, “Alice Neel: People Come First,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in March. (The exhibition closed earlier this month.)

“I’m incredibly happy that she’s getting what I think is her due,” Neel said. “Alice is really inspirational for me. I don’t think I ever met a person who was more tenacious or had more guts in the face of lack of interest than she had.”

Elizabeth Neel, Darlest Dearing (2020). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Darlest Dearing (2020). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Alice’s struggles for recognition and financial compensation, which were documented in the show, were part of the reason her two sons were drawn to the professional world, becoming a doctor and a lawyer. But Elizabeth and her brother, filmmaker Andrew Neel, turned back to pursue creative careers. (He made a feature-length documentary about Alice in 2007, and is currently completing a documentary short about Neel that Corrias will debut during Frieze London in October.)

“I think that actually happens lot in creative families, where you’ll have a flip-flopping effect,” Neel said. The poverty that her father, Hartley Neel, and her uncle, Richard Neel, experienced as children drove them to seek more stable career paths—an impulse that Neel, who took the LSAT before entering art school, understands fully.

“Alice suffered terribly on a physical and emotional level at the hands of her art and the art world,” she said. “That’s not something that you jump into lightly!”

See more works by Neel below.

Elizabeth Neel, Ark Scenario (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Ark Scenario (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Ark Scenario (2021), detail. Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Ark Scenario (detail, 2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Following the Birds (2021), detail. Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Following the Birds (detail, 2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Eve 2 (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Eve 2 (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Sister (Sibling 1), 2020, detail. Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Sister (Sibling 1) (detail, 2020). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Blue Black Bleed (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Blue Black Bleed (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Eve (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Eve (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias, London, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Exchange Principle (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

Elizabeth Neel, Exchange Principle (2021). Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York, ©Elizabeth Neel.

“Elizabeth Neel: Arms Now Legs” is on view at Salon 94, 3 East 89th Street, New York, June 30–August 27, 2021.

“Elizabeth Neel: Limb After Limb” will be on view at Pilar Corrias, 2 Savile Row, London, September 16–October 23, 2021.

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Duchess Kate Middleton’s Intimate Portraits of Holocaust Survivors Are Part of a Touching Tribute Exhibition in London


Two photographs by Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, are part of an exhibition honoring Holocaust survivors at the Imperial War Museums in London.

“While I have been lucky enough to meet two of the now very few survivors, I recognize not everyone in the future will be able to hear these stories first hand,” Middleton said in a statement. “It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations.”

For “Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors,” Middleton and 13 fellows from the Royal Photographic Society photographed Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

“We felt it was important to celebrate the survivors of the Holocaust through this exhibition and create a body of work that could be shown in the future, with family members in the photographs who would have a direct connection to them,” Michael Pritchard, the director of education and public affairs at the Royal Photographic Society, told Midnight Publishing Group News.

Kate Middleton, portrait of Holocaust survivor Steven Frank and his two granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie Fleet, at Kensington Palace for "Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors" at the Imperial War Museums, London. Photo ©the Duchess of Cambridge. Steven Frank

Kate Middleton, portrait of Holocaust survivor Steven Frank and his two granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie Fleet, at Kensington Palace for “Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors” at the Imperial War Museums, London. Photo ©the Duchess of Cambridge. Steven Frank

The exhibition grew out of a special issue of the Jewish News commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The show, which is a collaboration between the newspaper, the Royal Photographic Society, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and Dangoor Education, was delayed from a planned 2020 opening by the pandemic.

Middleton photographed Steven Frank with his two granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie Fleet, and Yvonne Bernstein and her granddaughter, Chloe Wright, at Kensington Palace ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2020.

Kate Middleton with Holocaust survivor Yvonne Bernstein during a portrait session at Kensington Palace. Photo courtesy of Kensington Palace.

Kate Middleton with Holocaust survivor Yvonne Bernstein during a portrait session at Kensington Palace. Photo courtesy of Kensington Palace.

Frank, born in the Netherlands in 1935, was one of only 93 children to escape the Theresienstadt concentration camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Remarkably, though his father was murdered at Auschwitz, Frank’s two brothers and mother also survived, in part thanks to the extra scraps of bread his mother acquired by secretly washing prisoners’ clothes through her job at the camp laundry. Frank brought the tin saucepan in which she would mix the bread with hot water to his portrait session with Middleton.

Bernstein, born in Germany 1937, was separated from her parents at one year old, when they each individually managed to obtain visas to work in the U.K. War broke out before she could join them, and Bernstein was forced into hiding in France with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. The family was arrested and the uncle killed at Auschwitz, but Bernstein was released and eventually reunited with her parents in Britain in 1945. For her photograph, she posed with her German ID card, stamped with the letter “J” to identify her as a Jew.

Kate Middleton, portrait of Holocaust survivor Yvonne Bernstein and her granddaughter Chloe Wright at Kensington Palace for "Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors" at the Imperial War Museums, London. Photo ©the Duchess of Cambridge. Steven Frank

Kate Middleton, portrait of Holocaust survivor Yvonne Bernstein and her granddaughter Chloe Wright at Kensington Palace for “Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors” at the Imperial War Museums, London. Photo ©the Duchess of Cambridge. Steven Frank

“The families brought items of personal significance with them which are included in the photographs,” Middleton added. “They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever.”

This isn’t the first time that Middleton’s prowess with the camera has made headlines. In 2017, the Royal Photographic Society awarded her an honorary lifetime membership recognizing her tour photographs and family portraits. She has been a society patron since 2019.

Kate Middleton with Holocaust survivor Yvonne Bernstein during a portrait session at Kensington Palace. Photo courtesy of Kensington Palace.

Kate Middleton with Holocaust survivor Yvonne Bernstein during a portrait session at Kensington Palace. Photo courtesy of Kensington Palace

Prior to her life as a royal, Middleton also took photographs for her family’s party planning company, Party Pieces. She also majored in art history at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, where she met Prince William.

Last year, Middleton began working with the National Portrait Gallery in London on a community photography project documenting life during lockdown in the U.K. She had previously curated a Victorian photography exhibition at the NPG in 2018.

“Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors” is on view at the Imperial War Museums, Lambeth Road, London, SE1 6HZ, August 6, 2021–January 9, 2022.

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ICA London Director Stefan Kalmár on How British Politics—and Right-Wing Attacks—Sparked His Departure From the Museum


Stefan Kalmár, the first-ever non-British head of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, is stepping down from the role after five years.

Kalmár, who said there should be fixed term limits for museum heads, said he was also leaving over concerns of the effects of Brexit, and increased government oversight at museums.

“What’s happening in the U.K. is worrying,” Kalmár told Midnight Publishing Group News. “The historic arm’s-length principle between the government and cultural institutions that it directly funds… [is] being undermined.”

Kalmár said the museum was subject to several “rightwing complaints” during his tenure, in which some claimed it was acting as a political entity.

“My favorite quote from one particular critic was: ‘Promoting anal sex and polyamory to fight Nazism is just another day’s work for the ICA’s press department,’” he said.

His biggest concern for the future of museums is that they can become too dependent on a director’s financial connections.

“One runs [into the] danger that the director becomes indispensable as the financial health of the organization relies on them,” he said. (The ICA gets 21 percent of its budget from the government.)

The Institute of Contemporary Arts London. Photo by Rob Battersby.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts London. Photo by Rob Battersby.

“It seems strange that while public offices are—for good reasons—often termed, leading public cultural institutions are less so,” Kalmár said, noting that he believes that turnover in leadership roles is essential to a museum’s growth.

The ICA reopened on July 6 after having been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic. But while the challenges presented during lockdown were significant, the situation also led Kalmár to reflect on the institution’s goals, particularly in light of conversations regarding diversity and inclusion.

“If problems are structural, then change must also be structural,” Kalmár said. “Unfortunately, organizations of this size and scale adapt—rightly or wrongly—too slowly. Or at least, too slowly for me.”

Kalmár also said personal reasons led him to his departure.

Former American soldier and whistleblower Chelsea Manning poses ahead of her talk at the Institute Of Contemporary Arts London in 2018. Photo by Jack Taylor, Getty Images.

Former American soldier and whistleblower Chelsea Manning poses ahead of her talk at the Institute of Contemporary Arts London in 2018. Photo by Jack Taylor, Getty Images.

“My own biography as a son of a Hungarian immigrant to West Germany has been defined by borders,” Kalmár said. “As a child growing up in East Germany, I was not able to see my dad regularly for the first five years of my life, and it defined my belief that we must fight nationalism and racism wherever we come from, and wherever we live.”

During Kalmár’s tenure, the ICA held retrospectives for Kathy Acker, Julie Becker, and Seth Price, among others, and hosted speakers including whistle-blower-turned-activist Chelsea Manning and Spanish philosopher Paul Preciado.

Kalmár previously helmed New York’s Artists Space and the Kunstverein München in Munich.

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