The selectors for the 2009 edition of the annual show are artists' Ellen Gallagher, Saskia Olde Wolbers, John Stezaker and Wolfgang Tillmans.
New Contemporaries gives people still at, or just after, art school the opportunity to show their work in the context of a professional art gallery. It is important in that it takes the work out of the educational context and into the real. The relationship between education and art is known, respected, but strangely not recognised enough. As an organisation New Contemporaries is, however, totally independent of the art school as it allows applicants a democratic chance for the work itself to shine through. Reputations that might otherwise become set within the art school system are able to break out.
The annual exhibition is selected from slide, film, video, cd, proposal, and then at a second stage from a shortlist of the work itself. New Contemporaries is one of only two open exhibitions in the country. The importance of testing, looking, judging without knowledge of school, age, works both ways. The selection of selector is, therefore, key. As a principle it is important to convey a very basic sense of possibility to every art school student or recent graduate considering applying. The selection is done by artists and writers and often a selector will have also been in New Contemporaries, a number of years before. The intense and detailed selection process provides the selector the opportunity to consider art in a broad context, in a visual and aural sea far removed from their individual career.
Although there is no limit put on the number of artists to be shown each year, the number chosen from out of over 1,200 applicants has averaged almost uncannily, at around thirty-five. Independent of place, New Contemporaries is an annual exhibition without a building, and has had beneficial relationships with many important galleries. The exhibition travels and this movement, which is an integral part of the structure, means a different relationship to audience and place. The exhibition provides galleries, such as Cornerhouse or Camden Arts Centre, a ready-made exhibition of the very newest and best contemporary art.
For the first time, New Contemporaries publishes extracts of the selectors' discussion during the selection process.
The selectors were filmed at the conclusion of the selection process as they were making decisions on the actual shortlisted work. The job of New Contemporaries is to best convey what the selectors understand an artist wants to say, and by publishing these excerpts in the 2009 catalogue, New Contemporaries aims to give an indication of the level of involvement and the attention to detail the selectors give while deciding on the final works to be included in the exhibition.
The discussion particularly focuses on the photography in the current show, as for this medium the form an image takes can be so variable, so vulnerable and precarious, and because any artist, at any stage, has to decide what best represents their practice. The original video recording was made when it had already generally been agreed which artists were to be included in the exhibition, and concentrates on which individual works best represent the artist's intentions.
The catalogue is published alongside the annual show featuring the work of 47 artists. It is distributed by Cornerhouse Publications.
Image: Sam Burford, Neoset Intense Black, 2008, Lightbox and original print, 32 x 22 x 13cm
Private view Tuesday 10 November h 6.30-8.30 pm
Club Row, Rochelle School Arnold Circus London E2 7ES
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