INSIGHTS | Interview with curator Tenzing Barshee

From September 5-8, Brussels Gallery Weekend holds its 12th edition. This year, about 40 galleries, a dozen institutions, and several artist-run spaces will open their doors to the public.Since 1968, Art Brussels has played a pivotal role in the energy that exists today in the Belgian contemporary art scene. As the leading Benelux contemporary art fair, Art Brussels is delighted to support the Brussels Gallery Weekend for the fifth year as a preferred partner. This cheerful season opening event celebrates Brussels as a contemporary art city and unites an interesting selection of players in Brussels who hold a leadership role in the contemporary art scene throughout the year.

Besides promoting the galleries, Art Brussels and the Brussels Gallery Weekend share another important interest: connecting the contemporary art scene to art lovers. During the Brussels Gallery Weekend, Art Brussels is happy to offer a three days shuttle service that brings the visitors to the gallery door steps. Circulation is an important element to enhance the success of the Brussels Gallery Weekend. We hope this will serve galleries, artists and thousands of art enthusiasts.

In addition to the galleries and a series of institutions and non-profits that are selected to be part of the off program, the exhibition “Fried Patterns” will show Brussels-based artists that are not yet represented by galleries, at the Vanderborght Building. The focus of this exhibition is the emerging side of Belgium’s contemporary art scene, by presenting art school students, young artists who recently finished their studies, and more experienced ones. Curator Tenzing Barshee invites the viewer to reflect on how our daily experiences confront us to a multitude of images and occurrences, triggering our affects.

As part of Art Brussels Insights, we spoke with Tenzing Barshee, the curator of this year’s exhibition.

Can you tell us more about “Fried Patterns”, the exhibition you are curating for the Brussels Gallery Weekend?
In preparation for the exhibition, I came several times to Brussels to discuss the project with Sybille du Roy and her team of the Brussels Gallery Weekend (BGW). Following this encouraging dialogue, I visited dozens of studios and met a lot of artists, 19 of which agreed to participate in “Fried Patterns.”
During the BGW, the city will be bursting with an innumerable amount of exhibitions. The aim was to create an experience that offers different energy than those in the galleries. I didn’t see the point in doing something classical. I wanted an aesthetic overkill. This definitely relates to how I have worked in the past and why I was hired, I guess.
Most of the artists are at the beginning of their careers, so I didn’t know most of them before. Together, they’ll present a kaleidoscope of different approaches to making art. “Fried Patterns” is dedicated to each of these 19 artists’ subjectivity: their joys and pains, obsessions and fetishes, and finally, their own self, as artists, human beings and subjects of society.
The project’s complexity resulted in a fair amount of risk-taking, which raised the stakes in a stimulating way. I’m happy to report that it was absolutely worth it. The project feels pretty unique, and I hope it will be able to give some insights into what drives this crazy bunch of highly talented Brussels-based artists.

What are you looking forward to see at the Brussels Gallery Weekend?
I’m looking forward to the whole spectrum. I hope that during my stay I can catch most of what the city has to offer. Mainly, I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibition of my long-time collaborator Matthew Lutz-Kinoy at Mendes Wood DM. I’m also curious about what Jan Mot will present by Paul Thek, as well as what Stephan Dafflon and Luca Bertolo will do at Baronian Xippas and Arcade respectively.

What do you like about Brussels as an art capital?
I’m mostly impressed by the commitment of the artists of all generations and backgrounds that are in Brussels. In combination with its strong institutions, this capital breeds an actual discourse. The galleries are like the springboard that connect the dots.

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