Judging from their online presence alone, it is quite difficult to pin down what Amsterdam-based studio and exhibition space Kunstenaarsinitiatief Beyoncé actually is. What is immediately clear, however, is their involvement in a range of artistic practices with no singular trajectory. In the exhibition "I want to stay healthy....but I can't" hosted by the group at Amsterdam venue Lost Property, attendees were treated to a liquid dinner with personalized straws; while the exhibition "SERFBORT" saw artist Dennis Van Vreden perform a six-hour lip sync of the entire discography of Beyonce Knowles-Carter in the basement of Ki Beyonce.
In conversation with the group, it becomes clear that this enigmatic project is energized, ambitious, and eager to maintain a position and dialogue in the art world through intelligent and well organized exhibitions. They certainly have more to offer than a humorous take on its dealings.
The group consists of members Lot Meijers, Elke Baggen, Lukas Hoffmann, Susan Kooi, Nikki Oosterveen, and Johanna Illerhag. They took time out of their busy exhibition and planning schedule to answer a few questions about their exciting journey.
How and when did you all meet?
We met on an online platform: http://romantic.wtf/ . It was the summer of 2013, around the same time James Gandolfini died.
How did you decide on the name of the group? Did humour factor in the decision to call group Kunstenaarsinitiatief Beyoncé?
We wanted a name that would become annoying at some later point yet would stay sexy forever. And now, indeed, we do find the name more annoying than humourous. It’s like a tattoo you got as a teenager that you cannot get rid of anymore. But it is not a sin and there is no regret whatsoever.
What were some of the main motivations for forming the group? You describe Ki B as developing “a way of being in the art world”; can you also elaborate on what way of being you are addressing?
Being confronted with the pressure to get successful in the art world as fast as possible, we all had feelings of doubt. Together it is different. We like to experience work more than to judge it. To make work, rather than to question what we are doing. First, that feeling was in the shows we curated and now in the shows we put together elsewhere or as a collective. Our working method has not changed so much.
In a past interview, you mentioned you do not have a permanent space for exhibiting work. Has this changed or is temporality a fundamental aspect of your curatorial practice?
We started of as being an artspace with a wet basement that had a notice of two weeks. The time span from planning to breaking down the shows has been very short. We invited people to do a show, solo or duo, and sometimes we had theme shows, such as ‘the christmas show’ and ‘the painting show’. We work high speed, no endless doubting and one keyword can become a show.
The exhibition “Have You Seen the Curator?” which exhibited work by first-year graphic design students attending Gerrit Rietveld, seemed to highlight the idea that in an exhibition, the presence of the curator’s hand often supersedes that of the artist especially in the production of meaning. The exhibition for me engaged with the idea of the curator-as-artist. Is this an accurate assertion? Do you think the role of curator-as-artist is problematic?
No, not so much. We never saw anyone in panic or trouble. During the cause of the mentioned exhibition we were on a holiday together. The curator was organizing this exhibition, and we just gave him the key after hearing his idea. We have always given the artist who exhibited a lot of freedom; our hands were busy underneath the table in getting together groups or duo’s that we thought would benefit from each other. For instance, we paired Melanie Bonajo and Nathan Azhderian, whose collaboration turned into a karaoke club.
Where do you see the group in the next five years?
In a jacuzzi at Art Basel Miami with JJ.
When is the next opening and which artists are you showing?
We have just put together a presentation of videos for the One Minutes; “nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separated happiness from melancholy”. There are new works in this series (e.g., by Hanne Lippard, Naïmé Perrette, Puppies Puppies and Simon Boase), but also older videos by Kaosiemenma Okay Ikenegbu and Messieurs Delmotte. At the moment we are busy with shows for 2015, one in W139 in Amsterdam called ‘the Castle’, in which we shall build a castle and host performances and screenings etc. The other exhibition will be at Lodos contemporáneo in Mexico City, in which we work with the theme of Ancient Egypt.
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words by Mark Pieterson (follow Mark on twitter )
1. installation view of ‘Im Every Painter, It ́s All in Me. Anything You Want Done Baby’ by Chandra Sen ft. Malcanisen studio and Kali Carlmar,
2. k.i.beyoncé, ‘nouveau romantique’ , group portrait by Kyle Tryhorn
3. ‘fountain beyoncé’ proposal to JJ for Art Basel Miami