ephemeropteræ 2013/09 – Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hassan Khan

Hans Ulrich Obrist
In The Future of Curating/Curating the Future the renowned curator, critic and writer Hans Ulrich Obrist speculates on a notional sense of the future. For Obrist, the curating practice can be regarded as “endless conversations” or dialogues between past, present and future, and thus, according to his Manifesto #35, “any attempt to forecast the future is both a provocation to rethink the past and an opportunity to better come to terms with the present.”

Described by the endurance-performance artist Marina Abramovic, as “sleepless, restless, obsessed, possessed, art, Olympic, runner, volcanic, mind-blowing, limitless”, Obrist has curated over 150 exhibitions internationally in locations ranging from his own kitchen to monasteries and airplanes. An advocate for the dissemination of art beyond the boundaries of museums and galleries, Obrist denounces the traditional exhibition experience as “too linear, too homogeneous”. His ongoing, multi-platform research project 89plus, (cofounded with Simon Castets,) displays a similar “infinite conversation” between past and present. Incorporating panels, books, periodicals, exhibitions and residencies to bring together individuals from the generation born in or after 1989, the project explores the relationship between the world-changing events of that year—such as the fall of the Berlin Wall or the introduction of the Word Wide Web- and present creative production at large, as this generation currently makes up almost half of the world’s population.

Having been described as “the art world’s default oral historian”, the notion of the spoken word and “oral history” are central to Obrist’s practice, culminating in his fascination with “the idea of an interview with an artist as a medium”. Obrist’s Interview Project, consists of approximately 2500 hours of recorded interviews, currently filmed and digitized in order to “become an evolving, never-ending, and polyphonic novel of our time”.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, born 1968 in Zurich, is an art curator, critic and art historian. Currently the Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery London, Obrist previously functioned as Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris. Obrist has co-curated over 250 exhibitions since his first exhibition, the Kitchen show (World Soup) in 1991. In 2012, he co-curated the following exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery: Hans-Peter Feldmann; Yoko Ono TO THE LIGHT and Thomas Schütte Faces & Figures. In addition, he co-curated 12 Rooms at Museum Folkwang, Essen; To the Moon via the Beach, LUMA Foundation, Arles; Lina Bo Bardi, Casa de Vidro, Sao Paulo and A call for unrealized projects, DAAD, Berlin.

In addition, Obrist is co-founder of the Brutally Early Club, an open discussion group meeting in several cities across the world and contributing editor to several magazines and journals. In 2009 Obrist was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Obrist has lectured internationally at academic and art institutions, his recent publications include Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA) / Hans Ulrich Obrist – Conversation Series, The future will be… China Edition, Cahiers d'art, Brief History of Curating, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks with Rem Koolhaas, Ai Wei Wei Speaks, along with two volumes of his selected interviews.

Hassan Khan – Purity


1. The quality or condition of being pure.
2. A quantitative assessment of homogeneity or uniformity.
3. Freedom from sin or guilt; innocence; chastity.
4. The absence in speech or writing of slang or other elements deemed inappropriate to good style.
5. The degree to which a color is free from being mixed with other colors

Egyptian artist, writer and musician Hassan Khan performs the adapted and extended version of Purity, a sound and spoken word performance previously shown in Doha and Art Dubai, as part of a forum exploring the idea of “definitionism,” which investigated the words, terms, clichés and misunderstandings that proliferate in the art world. In this work, Khan poses the following questions: What is it that is so comforting about the narrator's voice? And is conflict always predicated on some sort of agreement? What does the hammer strike when it does? And why do I hate this word yet choose to speak of it?

Hassan Khan’s artistic practice involves the use of various forms and formats apparent in an hour-long concert synthesizing precise elements of new wave shaabi music as in The Big One (2009) as much as in a 47-minute black and white video shot with cameras of two mobile phones—Blind Ambition (2012)—that was part of last year’s dOCUMENTA 13. His practice involves a continuous shift between the personal and the formal. Khan engages with objects and subjects that seem familiar, setting them in dialogue with highly personal references that he often leaves undisclosed. These multiple sources are channeled via a multifaceted layering of video, digital animation, performance documentation, sculpture, text and language, photography, sound and installation to produce a language that the artist considers essential to the very understanding of art practice.

Hassan Khan, born 1975 in Great Britain, is an artist, musician and writer. He lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. Before regularly exhibiting his work in art spaces in the late 1990s, he was involved in a self-organized, underground art and music scene that was highly innovative, yet rarely public. Collaborating with others and working alone to express a contemporary cultural perspective that was alternative to the mainstream, Khan is considered a pioneering influence, particularly in the fields of experimental music and video. 
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
TBA21–Augarten, Scherzergasse 1A, 1020 Vienna, Austria
supported by
Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein
curated by
Daniela Zyman and Boris Ondreička
Free admission