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From left to right: Kuralai Abdukhalikova, Cyrille Troubetzkoy, Nicolas Bourriaud and Barbara Lagié. © Jean Picon

‘The Art World Is Waiting for a New Format’: Why French Curator Nicolas Bourriaud Is Launching a Roving Platform to Show and Sell Art

The French writer and curator Nicolas Bourriaud, who co-founded the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, is launching a new roving exhibition and sales platform during the Venice Biennale. Radicants, as the platform is called, will work with some three-dozen curators to conceive and produce a broad range of projects, including selling exhibitions, touring shows, collaborations with foundations and museums, and book publishing. It will focus in particular on working with independent curators to realize projects that couldn’t otherwise be produced because of a lack of resources, Bourriaud said. “The art world is waiting for a new format at the moment. There have been a lot of discussions, especially because of the pandemic,” Bourriaud told Artnet News. “How can we change things? How can we propose new formats?”

From left to right: Kuralai Abdukhalikova, Cyrille Troubetzkoy, Nicolas Bourriaud and Barbara Lagié. © Jean Picon

From left to right: Kuralai Abdukhalikova, Cyrille Troubetzkoy, Nicolas Bourriaud and Barbara Lagié. © Jean Picon

Bourriaud noticed that independent curators are in need of support. “They are the ones who are not provided the freedom to produce, or access to resources of exhibition making,” he said. “Most of the museums have their own curators, and very talented people cannot finance their projects.” Radicants does not consider itself a gallery or art center, though it will open a space its own space in Paris in May. “It’s different from the market of galleries, a different approach to art collecting,” said Bourriaud, who most recently founded and ran France’s Montpellier Contemporain. (He was ousted last year to make way for a more populist program.) “This is what this curatorial collaborative is made for, to allow [curators] to produce amazing projects, and to produce meaning in the art world, contextualize art, and to invent concepts and ways of reading [art].” With seed funding from architect François Fontés, CEO of France’s Hugar Group, Radicants will launched in Venice with a group selling exhibition titled “Planet B: Climate Change and the New Sublime,” opening April 20 at Palazzo Bollani. The show examines the impact of climate change on contemporary art through the lens of 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke’s definition of the sublime: “a delight tinged with terror.” It includes work by nearly 30 international artists, including Anna Bella Geiger, Peter Buggenhout, Ylva Snöfrid, Charles Avery, and Haegue Yang.

Peter Bugghenout, _The blind leading by the blind_ #86, 2018

Peter Bugghenout, (2018).

Proceeds of the Venice exhibition will be used to finance future projects, including a presentation of work by Bracha L. Ettinger, curated by Noam Segal. The exhibition will inaugurate Radicants’s forthcoming 820-square-foot space in Paris. After that, Bourriaud will curate a group show focusing on “liquid forms of works,” titled “Cloud Point,” at London’s Paradise Now on June 3. Further plans to stage exhibitions in the U.S. and Asia are in place, Bourriaud noted.


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