ArtCircle presents a pop-up with substance and we interview curator, Bettina Ruhrberg

May 19th sees the private view of the first show from the revolutionary new arts platform, ArtCircle. Taking the pop-up exhibition format but injecting it with a real dose of the high brow — think museum quality work, top notch curators and posh postcodes only — ArtCircle will no doubt finally solve the conundrum of fitting a brand new business concept seamlessly into the restrictive and not always welcoming art world.

The launch exhibition, which will take place at 48 Albemarle Street in London’s Mayfair, is entitled Focusing Room and will feature work straight from the Museum of Modern Art in Goslar Germany, mainly from the Zero, Kinetic Art and Op Art schools. Much of the art has never before been seen in the UK, so ArtCircle, with the help of curator, Bettina Ruhrberg, is bringing us something truly special.

Adolf Luther, Der Fokussierender Raum (Focusing Room), 1968

We had the chance to speak with Bettina, who is the director of the MoMA in Goslar about her experiences as a curator, her goals for this exhibition and her thoughts on the ArtCircle concept.

ArtAttack: As you know, ArtCircle is a revolutionary new business model for the art world. What do you think of it and what opportunities do you feel it offers both to curators and also to collectors?

Betting Ruhrberg: This exhibition model offers new possibilities for curators and collectors because it is a format that falls somewhere in between an exhibition in a museum, an art gallery, an art fair and a pop-up art space. Museum shows for example, always reference the history of the institution and the collection, gallery shows and art fairs are mostly commercial and pop-up spaces are mainly for young, emerging art. So the idea of a pop-up show with historically important artwork presented for a short period in diverse spaces across the world and curated by art historians or museum directors is an interesting new approach.

AA: As for this particular show, why Zero, Op Art and Kinetic Art? What drew you to these artistic movements and why have you chosen the work you have?

BR: The Zero movement, Op Art and Kinetic Art all emerged in the late 1950s – early 1960s, one of the most influential post-war avant-garde periods. These groups left traditional media, think two dimensional static pictures or three-dimensional sculptures, behind. They instead used new materials, took to the streets and made environments that included the participation of the spectator. Light, movement and space are some of their basic themes, as well as vibration and dynamics as an expression of a new spirit of life. The participation of the viewer and the anti-hierarchical way of remain important concepts in contemporary art and continue to influence artists to this day.

AA: When curating the 48 Albemarle Street Space, what were some of the considerations and are you happy with how the planning has turned out?

BR: The Focusing Room of Adolf Luther, which is in the collection of our museum, illustrates the main theme of this exhibition: to focus on space. In this experimental room, Adolf Luther used mirrors to make light visible. The idea of the different appearances of light is also the principal topic of the other artists in the show.

My intention for this exhibition was also to present the fascinating installation of Adolf Luther to an international art audience. Until now, it has never been shown outside of Germany. In contrast to the pioneer light rooms of Otto Piene or the Zero group at the documenta (1964), this room from 1968 is mostly unknown by the public.

So in the middle of two connecting rooms of 48 Albermarle Street space there is the Focusing Room of Adolf Luther. The other works are arranged around this central piece.

In every room there will be another main work that focuses on light and space. The exhibition will concentrate on early works of the 60s and 70s because it is these pieces that best illustrate how revolutionary this art truly was.

All these artists negate the static concept of space and leave behind traditional methods to construct images. The important role of this historical period can be proven, for example, by observing the work of Olafur Eliasson, which wouldn’t exist without the movements we are showing in this exhibition.

Regarding the organisation of the show it was a great pleasure to work with Natalia Chagoubatova and Elena Sereda who found an excellent space for the presentation as well as with Volker Diehl who is an expert on the art movements we are showing.

AA: Do you have a favourite work in the exhibition?

BR: They are all fascinating. I especially like Focusing Room because of its unique ruminant effect. But it is really hard to select a favourite because every artist has his own elan and is presenting a new concept. As they are all working with light and space, the visitor is involved in every artwork and has a choice as to how to best approach it physically.

AA: On a more personal note, what drew you to curating as a profession?

BR: Due to my family background I grew up with art and can’t imagine a life without art. Our family lived in Düsseldorf for many years, which is where the Zero movement was founded so I knew Zero and some of the Kinetic artists from a very early age.

I remember very well the revolutionary atmosphere at the end of the 60s, even though I was very young. This time was very exciting with many discussions about the ‘social relevance’ of art, a real buzzword at that time. So the ideas around the importance of art for a society were the reason why I began to study art history and finally became a museum director. But the reason for curating this exhibition was to show how fundamental the approach of these artists has made way for the art of today.

– India Irving

Focusing Room will be on view at 48 Albemarle Street from 20 May – 9 June, 2017; Monday – Friday 12-6pm, weekends by appointment; Admission: FREE


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