Independent Curators International (ICI) supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement. Curators are arts community leaders and organizers who champion artistic practice; build essential infrastructures and institutions; and generate public engagement with art. Our collaborative programs connect curators across generations, and across social, political and cultural borders. They form an international framework for sharing knowledge and resources — promoting cultural exchange, access to art, and public awareness for the curator’s role.
The Art Agency
The Art Agency
A proposal by Maayan Sheleff
Bringing small solutions to big problems.
The Art Agency is an online consulting agency which will provide consultation for communities and individuals in conflict or crises. The agents will be visual artists of different backgrounds and styles, who will be recruited to the agency based on their talents and interest in using the tools of art to provide assistance to others. The Art Agency offers to create temporary bridges of communication by putting the knowledge and methods of artists out in the world. We are not sure if we have authority and skills to consult, and we don’t know who would want to be consulted by us. But we would like to explore this idea of art consultation in real-life situations.
There are existing agencies that try to solve crisis by mediation and consult:
Psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers, couple therapists, bridging lawyers, gurus of self improvement, tutors, moderators and mediators. Other agencies try to eliminate the crisis by overseeing, governing, separating and controlling. However, what all these agencies usually create are dichotomies of right and wrong, good and bad, normal and deviant.
Art has a different methodology and language. It is often poetic, at times absurd, and rarely states something as fact. It is full of doubt, and raises more questions then answers. This hesitant state of being will make the art agents capable of creating an alternative dispute resolution and crisis management system:
We will not try to eliminate the crisis but to dissect and disassemble it. We will allow the conflict to perform. We might sometimes say that we just don’t know.
The Agency will work through an internet site that will provide the platform from which representatives of a community in conflict could approach the agents. The internet provides a relatively free public space that forms a major platform for dialogues and consultants of all kinds. The clients will be able to choose which agent to approach based on an online profile that will specify a short bio, his artistic medium, areas of interest and other useful information. The agent who has been approached will then choose whether to accept the call and commence the process of consulting. The agent will guide the client through the process in any way he or she chooses. The agent might ask the client for research materials such as photographs, recorded conversations etc. The client will then become a sort of agent himself, within his own community. Every stage of the process will be documented and archived. The client and the agent will be able to communicate through the site via emails, video conversations, chats etc. The consulting process will end when one or both sides will decide that a suitable solution has been found or that the dialogue has reached a dead end. When a consulting process will end, the Agency may show the project on the website.
At times few of the agents might work together on one case. Special situations might require that agents will travel to an area of conflict and put up a physical temporary headquarters.
Are you in crisis or conflict? Need some advice? Call the Art Agency!
The Curatorial Intensive
The Curatorial Intensive is ICI’s short-term, low-cost training program that offers emerging curators the chance to develop their exhibition ideas and make connections to leaders in the field, providing the opportunity to forge new international networks through peer-group education. The Curatorial Intensive takes place twice annually in New York, and in other locations in conjunction with institutional partners worldwide.
About the Curator
Maayan Sheleff is the artistic advisor of The Art Cube Artists’ Studios in Jerusalem and the curator of its international residency program, LowRes Jerusalem. She was the curator at CCA Tel Aviv and the assistant director of its curatorial studies program. Her projects take a reflexive approach towards participation and activism. She is currently studying for a Practice-Based PHD at the Curatorial platform, the University of Reading (UK) and Zhdk (CH), exploring the use of the voice in participatory practices, in relation to protest movements of the last decade. Some of her recent projects include “Voice Over” at the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Holland (opens October 2020) and “(Un)commoning Voices and (Non)communal Bodies” for Reading: International, UK (2019). Sheleff curated exhibitions in various institutions and in the public sphere, among them at the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Madre museum in Naples, Shift festival in Basel, Herzliya Museum, Israel, and the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. She was co-curator of the first Tel Aviv- Yaffo biennial (ARTLV 2009). She teaches in Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem, and lectured as a guest in many other academic institutions, among them Stockholm University, School of Visual Arts, NY, The Graduate Center at the City University of New York, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem,Tel Aviv University and others. She is on the advisory board of OnCurating.
Some of her recent publications include:
Rendering Borders- curatorial text for Morehshin Allahyari and Lior Zalmanson’s exhibition catalogue, Art Cube Artists’ Studios, 2018.
Fear and Love in Graz, (in:) Empty Stages, Crowded Flats. Performativity as Curatorial Strategy, performing urgency #4, Editors Florian Malzacher and Janna Warsza, House on Fire publishing, 2017.
The Infiltrators - Crossing Borders With Participatory Art, (in:) Refugees and Cultural Education- Formats and strategies for a new field of practice, editors Caroline Gritschke and Maren Ziese, Transcript publishing, Germany, 2016
The Chosen People - A Small Guide For a Big Revolution, a conversation with The Yes Men’s Andy Bichlbaum, Tohu online magazine, January 2016.