Experimenter Curators’ Hub: Q&A with Ariana Pradal

Experimenter Curators’ Hub: Q&A with Ariana Pradal

Written by Monica Arora

The Experimenter Gallery in culturally-enriched Kolkata is housed in a 1930s heritage building with the sunken courtyard of the original building being utilized as the main area for artistic displays, installations, performances and talks that are the mainstay of this gallery. Conceived by Prateek & Priyanka Raja in 2009, Experimenter extends beyond the “hyper-commercial imperatives of the Indian art market, highlighting instead experimental and alternative artists from the entire South Asian subcontinent and artists globally who have a South Asian connection to their practice.”

As an endeavor in the same line of function, the annual Experimenter Curators’ Hub is an event that the gallery is proud to be hosting for the sixth year in 2016. The current edition of the Experimenter Curators’ Hub 2016 is being held on Thursday 28th, Friday 29th & Saturday 30th July 2016 at Experimenter, 2/1 Hindustan Road, Kolkata 700029, India.

According to the gallery, this “is a crucial platform in developing and sustaining discourse on curatorial practice and exhibition making.  Each year the hub invites curators to present and discuss their practice in depth with reference to recent exhibitions curated by them.”

The curators who are participating in ECH 2016 include national and international artists and designers of repute including prolific names such as Ariana Pradal, Cosmin Costinas, Dayanita Singh, Giorgio Galleani, Marta Smolinska, Maud Page, Naman Ahuja, Natasha Ginwala, Rahaab Allana, Susie Lingham and Hans Ulrich-Obrist (via video conference).

Exhibition at Swiss Heritage Society Centre at Villa Patumbah, Zurich

Visitors to this Curators’ hub range from critics, writers, thinkers, artists, collectors, theorists and people interested in contemporary visual art practice and in 2016, the inclusion of architecture and design curators as well as curators of visual art lend it a special significance.

Ariana’s work at Swiss Heritage Society Center in the Villa Patumbah, Zurich (www.heimatschutzzentrum.ch)

Artsome conducted an online Q&A with Ariana Pradal, hailing from Switzerland. Having trained as an industrial designer, and working as a journalist and curator, she also writes regularly for various magazines and museums in the field of design and architecture and her articles, books and exhibitions have been printed and presented in Switzerland and abroad. Pradal has also taught at various universities of applied sciences and sat on juries awarding diplomas. Apart from being an independent journalist and curator, she acts as a technical expert advising various cultural and political institutions.


1. How do you decide upon a theme for curating an exhibition as in: is it the theme or a topical issue that compels you or is it the body of work of a series of artists dwelling upon a theme that enables you to choose that theme?

Most of the time institutions or museums come to me and have a topic in mind. To begin with, I often just listen to my client and ask questions. Over a period of time, we try to define the topic more precisely and reach a consensus. As my focus is on design, architecture, urban planning, crafts and cultural heritage, the questions are different as those say for a classic art exhibition. Often my topics are more abstract. I always have to find “bridges” to communicate a content.


Swiss Federal Design Grants 2007

Her published articles

2. How do you perceive Indian architecture, especially in terms of contemporary work?

I have love and respect Studio Mumbai’s work. The way they plan and elaborate a project together with craftspeople or workers who actually build the house is phenomenal. I think this approach of combining traditional building techniques and traditional material with contemporary possibilities is something very important today. This makes the project local and global or you could say universal at the same time. For me this is an important aspect of contemporary architecture.

3. The Venice Biennale received much flak for its director Alejandro Aravena’s theme where he urged artists and architects to “investigate conflict zones and urban slums, as well as locations suffering from housing shortage, migrations and environmental disasters.” Any views?

I believe Alejandro Aravena has set an important topic. “For whom are we planning and building? Can we improve lives and the quality of a city if we take the needs of the inhabitants seriously?” Yes we can. Many examples have proven that. The time that we paid homage to star architects and their big gestures is over.

4. Any plans to visit the Taj Mahal or if you have seen it, your description in a line?

I wanted to go. But it would have been too much for a day trip. The German author Goethe once said: “You have to see Rome before you die”. Maybe there is a similar quotation for the Taj Mahal. I hope to see it before I die.

Yellow! The exhibition of color

In her own words, “Telling stories about design, architecture and related fields is my passion and core competence. The “stories” take shape in written form as articles and books, orally in lectures, workshops and guided tours, or three-dimensionally in exhibitions. It is very important to me did thoughts on a specific field are conveyed in a manner did is comprehensible and appealing not only to experts but so to interested laypeople. Unusual and experimental approaches interest me as much as the reliable and responsible execution of a project.”

Images courtesy: https://translate.google.co.in/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://www.pradal.ch/&prev=search