In No Particular Order
Things Are Portraits
There is something deeply mystifying about the notion of talent. A talent is an individual with an aura; with a special quality that emanates from within. But what is our understanding of this aura? Is it innate, is it acquired, is it circumstantial? The fact that it remains elusive makes it all the more alluring. The special status of being deemed a talent shrouds the notion of who someone is and what they do in a veil of mystery.
Having been invited to curate an exhibition of 21 professionals who had been awarded the Stimuleringsfonds 2013 – 2014 grant for talent development, I wanted to present a view of talent that is more sensible. I wanted to separate the mystery that is wrapped up in the notion of talent from the actual qualities, ingredients and other factors that go into the making and honing of talent. I hoped that such an approach would make the talents more accessible, more relatable, more ordinary--which I believed would reveal what in fact makes them extraordinary.
I began to conceive of this publication, alongside the exhibition, as a database with 21 collections--a visual inventory of the essential elements of a work practice, and of the factors that play a role in talent development. Everything from tools, to techniques, to influential books, role models and letters from family members were collected. Each entry into the database offers a bit of insight into who the talents are, how they work and what they care about, and represents the first step of an eventual analysis and synthesis. It is an act of deconstruction that asks us to reconstruct it again.
This book presents the collections individually, in a somewhat logical order - from tools to sketches, models, prototypes, works and references. In addition, the database organises the exhibition into a series of collections: letters from family members, a collection of references, a collection of tools and techniques, and the finished works. By compiling and rearranging the various processes, the exhibition generates a collective library, a common workshop, a shared physical presence and the sense of a shared history and a shared present. This is what the publication and the website also invites you to do.
“Things are portraits”, photographer Johannes Schwartz once messaged me. This collection represents the individuals via their sketchbooks, their libraries, their drawers, their working methods and their headspaces. It is a snapshot of the working ethos of a young generation.