Dear Curators,

It is not uncommon to secretly critique exhibitions of contemporary art at museums, galleries and artist-run spaces. After all, we wish to be inspired by progressive curatorial visions that transcend well-worn theories, vernacular politics and frivolous chatter. We want to witness the sustained impact of bold curators who engage artists and artworks with unconditional freedom, placing distractions of the marketplace aside. We desire exhibitions that kick-start the imagination and generate inclusive exchange, without putting artistic integrity at stake. Occasionally, we imagine the democratization of power hierarchies and de-institutionalization of art – returning agency to artists and the community.

Many of us pay homage to legendary curators such as Harald Szeemann, Jens Hoffmann, Jean-Hubert Martin, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Nicolas Bourriaud; who rose to prominence from diverse backgrounds. The notion of artist-curators has arisen in the past decade, but their impact and influence on our landscape has been decidedly un-inspiring. What is needed, more than ever, is the presence of prodigious curators with creative ideas and an uncompromising commitment to their craft.

The consummate curator of contemporary art sets diligent strategies, defies conventions of the day and carves radical paths for others to pursue. You may be an academic, artist-curator, independent left-field eccentric or even a paradoxical maverick à la Jeffrey Deitch – we are not bothered. Simply put, we want to provide a chance for you to demonstrate your ideas. This edition of Breaking Waves is a curatorial open call to address the intersection between art and mental health. It demands the adoption of a discerning and sophisticated approach, towards a subject long considered ‘taboo.’

Art has been posited to have healing properties, allowing for heightened satisfaction and engagement with one’s emotions. It even has the potential to result in a transcendent experience, as it imbues common subjects with new and powerful meanings. By engaging with inner conflict and advocating for open and tolerant mindsets, artists have been able to highlight sensitive issues and generate collective reflection and action. Whether you challenge the idea of ‘art for art’s sake,’ or call forth Jean Dubuffet and art brut, we have a jury of international curators du jour waiting to review your ideas. This includes Adriel Luis, Curator of Digital and Emerging Media at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; Eriko Kimura, curator at the Yokohama Museum of Art; Florence Ostende, curator, Barbican, London and independent London-based curator, Victor Wang. We look forward to receiving news from you.


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