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Conceived by independent curator, writer, and co-director of Paris Internationale, Clément Delépine, Galleries Curate was born during the early stages of the first lockdown last year. The platform’s organisers explain, “In the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic, an informal group of contemporary galleries from around the world came together to discuss how to navigate through the new challenges of the global crisis as it affected our artists, staff and businesses. The relationships among us over weeks of exchange became close and essential and we discovered that while the pandemic had broken many things apart, it had also brought us together. A supportive sense of community ignited positivity and cooperative interactions, and the initial group of twelve grew to twenty-one. As an expression of this unity we initiated Galleries Curate, a collaborative exhibition designed to express the dynamic dialogue between our individual programmes.”

Latifa Echakhch, Le Thé de Saïd, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Jan Mot, Brussels.

The first project from the initiative, titled RHE, derived from Greek for “that which flows,” is a platform for exhibitions, performances, and public interventions that loosely address the theme of water – geographically, politically, economically or metaphorically. Involving outputs both online and on-site, RHE spans regions, markets, cultures, and audiences around the world, circulating both within and outside of traditional white-box exhibition spaces. “Galleries Curate: RHE is the first chapter of this collaboration, an exhibition and website themed around a universal and, we hope, unifying subject: water. Like culture, water is never static but always in flux,” Delépine notes. Until 30 May 2021, a total of twenty-one exhibitions will be presented concurrently on the online platform and the exhibition spaces of the participating galleries.

Fiona Tan, Rise and Fall, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York.

Currently on show online and presented by Peter Freeman, New York is the work of artist Fiona Tan. For her two-screen installation, Rise and Fall, Tan filmed in Niagara Falls, Belgium and the Netherlands, constructing a narrative of isolation, loss and dislocation by using water as an evocative metaphor for time and for memories of a woman’s life. Tan intersperses images of an older and younger woman, depicting a story of two lives while suggesting they may be the same person, with images of moving bodies of water. The viewer is shown glimpses of intimate moments, bathing, caresses of a lover, routine make-up application, which both unite and divide these two iterations of a woman separated by time. Pointing to the ephemeral nature of human existence, Rise and Fall offers a meditation on the reflective gaze and examines how memories influence how we live in the present.

Oliver Laric, Hermanubis, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin.

Elsewhere, discover the collaborative efforts of Tanya Leighton and Sadie Coles HQ, who have joined forces for this unique occasion. Each of the artists in this joint exhibition interprets transformation on a symbolic, material or spiritual level. Oliver Laric’s videos and sculptures analyse the instability and hybridity of objects as a chance for growth, while Monster Chetwynd’s work grapples with notions of ephemerality and metamorphosis through forms of ritual and solidarity. Sky Hopinka’s dreamlike films traverse indigenous themes of history and myth remembered in the present as a promise for the future, and the assembled imagery of Michele Abeles scrutinise the transformative nature of images and associations from both digital and analogue sources. The sensual representation of clouds in the work of Alvaro Barrington is inspired by the suggestive state of transience between water and air, and of course by Turner’s tempestuous landscapes. Water becomes an active medium in Pavel Büchler’s paintings, which undergo a physical transformation as they cycle through a washing machine.

Ana Mendieta, Silueta de Arena, 1978. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Among the diverse artists included in RHE are água de beber, Michele Abeles, Francis Alÿs, Giovanni Anselmo, Alvaro Barrington, Lothar Baumgarten, Pavel Büchler, Monster Chetwynd, Lai Chih Sheng, Petah Coyne, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Jan Dibbets, Jason Dodge, Latifa Echakhch, Ficre Ghebreyesus, Andy Goldsworthy, Sky Hopinka, Alfredo Jaar, Gabriel Kuri, Sean Landers, Oliver Laric, Charles Lim, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Arjan Martin, Adam McEwen, Cildo Meireles, Ana Mendieta, Helen Mirra, Sarah Morris, Melvin Moti, Jean-Luc Moulène, Sahil Naik, Melik Ohanian, Pat O’Neill, Jaume Plensa, Pope.L, Aki Sasamoto, Jacolby Satterwhite, Carolee Schneemann, Kate Shepherd, Kwan Sheung Chi, Ko Sin Tung, Simon Starling, Fiona Tan, Michelle Stuart, Cosima Von Bonin, Wang Wei, and Richard Wentworth.

Following this inaugural project, Galleries Curate plan to invite new participants and add further curated chapters to a global conversation of thematic relationships between galleries, artists, and their audiences. Stay up to date here.

Feature image: Michele Abeles, Boa constrictor, 2018. © Michele Abeles. Courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London.

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