Who’s Who at CIMAM: Carlos Jr Quijon
Who's Carlos Jr Quijon
Carlos Jr Quijón, Independent Curator, CIMAM 2022 Travel Grantee, Quezon City, Philippines
How did you get started in the world of art curating, and what led you to dedicate your professional career to it?
My training is in art history and comparative literature. I started out as an art critic. From there I worked as a curatorial coordinator–doing stuff from working with artists on production, to space planning, to preparing texts for publication and printing. I have always felt that one needs to understand art from various perspectives in order to write about it or write about it in an interesting way. So for me curating informs my writing as much as my writing and art historical research inform my curating. Professionally, curating appealed to me because it had all the things that I wanted to do: prompt artists to consider concepts, write about art, think about how art is received both spatially and art historically. Curating is also highly collaborative and I think that is also interesting for me since part of the process is acknowledging my own limitations and leaning into contingencies–two things that are always motivated by possibility. One learns from other people, not just artists but also designers, museum workers, artisans. Contingencies teach one to be nimble and think on their feet. Curating is a very challenging undertaking but it is really rewarding to work with other people and just to see an exhibition come alive with people.
The contemporary art sector is constantly evolving, with new narratives emerging as artists, curators, and art institutions respond to current social and cultural issues. These new narratives are shaping the future of the contemporary art sector by pushing boundaries and challenging traditional art forms.
What do you think about this trend?
What kind of narratives are you currently working with, or are you most interested in?
I think this trend is very healthy. There should be as many unique perspectives about art and curating as there are practitioners, if not more. One thing that we can learn from the mediations of curating is how works and historical narratives can be broken down or brought together in different ways and contexts. Most recently I have been working on ideas of transregionalism and futurisms emerging from concepts that make sense in the context of an expanded Southeast Asia. I am curating a series of contemporary art exhibitions on “archipelagic futurisms'' which looks at regional connections through notions of the archipelagic. I am also writing about the writing of exhibition histories as a method of understanding the art history of the region–which of course is shaped by the wonderful work of the generation of Southeast Asian art historians before me.
Curators play an essential role in constructing these new narratives. They also play a critical role in supporting artists and helping to promote their work to a broader audience.
How would you define yourself as a curator concerning research, the relationship with artists, and institutions?
What are your most common working practices and research sources?
I see the work that I do as also the curation of resources. By this I mean: I like making experimental work and research take space in exhibitions with the support of institutions. I feel that this aspect of curation that entails securing institutional support for the project and for the artists involved is something that can easily be overlooked. My projects are usually research-driven, usually art-historically or historically inflected and I feel like my curatorial vision can only be as good as the support that it receives. I work closely with artists making sure that I know their body of work so that when we talk about their possible works for any exhibition I can respond knowing their practice’s itinerary that they want to pursue moving forward. I also feel that the exhibition should be released from ideas of perfection or completeness, exhibitions are also spaces for artists to feel concepts and methods out. I like mixing archival materials and materials from popular culture and also works from collections in my exhibitions so that there are also layers of interest and a wider breadth of things for the viewers to latch upon.
What book have you recently read that has inspired you in the development of your professional activity?
I am very interested in how transregional affinities can be accounted for in art and material culture in general. Because of this I am drawn to the field of comparative literature, since the field also shares the questions, anxieties, and burdens of this effort. One book that I am enjoying reading is the book Figures of the World: The Naturalist Novel and Transnational Form by Christopher Laing Hill, wherein he thinks about the possibility of a “geographically extensive” approach to the history of expressive forms, instead of the usual conceptualizations of the “world” or the “global,” i.e., world literature or global literature. Another book is Transpacific Engagements: Trade, Translation, and Visual Culture of Entangled Empires, which is a collection of essays by different scholars on transpacific connections edited by Florina Capistrano-Baker and Meha Priyadarshini. The book looks at a range of material cultures and how objects circulated in the transpacific. I enjoy reading both books because they are both methodologically rich and exciting.
What was the last exhibition you attended, and how did it impact you?
I was part of the curatorial team of the exhibition Dream of the Day curated by the art historian and curator Patrick Flores, which opened late November last year at ILHAM Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition is prompted by the idea of surrealism in Southeast Asia. In the exhibition, the prospects of surrealism are allowed to expand and to transform into different guises (not only painting but also cinema, performance, photography, installation). Like many of Flores’s exhibitions, I like Dream of the Day because it opens up the categories it works with through the exhibition, in this case “surrealism” and even “Southeast Asia.” In this way, the exhibition shapes the narrative of art history and in itself presents a compelling approach to questions about regionality or art historical categories that we always take at face value.
Can you share a song to include in CIMAM's Spotify playlist?
Caroline Polachek, Welcome To My Island
Who's Who in CIMAM: Get to know our members and find new ways of collaboration
A new project intended to activate CIMAM's extraordinary and unique international network of Directors and Curators of Museums and Collections of Modern and Contemporary Art.
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