Senior LecturerThe Crafts and Fine Art
About Viviana Checchia
I am a curator, critic and lecturer active internationally. I have worked on curatorial and artistic programmes around contemporary art for the last eighteen years. My work has always foregrounded the public practice of art, the use of public and private space, the legacies of institutional critique, and of socially-engaged art practice.
One of my first and major initiatives in the field of contemporary art is ‘vessel’. Co-curated with Anna Santomauro, vessel is a not-for-profit platform for the development of an inclusive critical discourse related to current cultural, social, economic and political issues through the production and perspective of contemporary art. Vessel explores socially-engaged practices in relation to their context of emergence, to their geographies and psychogeographies, and the overlap of these concerns with fixed political ideologies. Vessel deploys and promotes an interdisciplinary method: geography, political science, anthropology and sociology combine to inform and facilitate interaction and exchange between different subjects, creating a multi-centred body of knowledge that illuminates the limits of working unilaterally and the advantages of collective, interactive learning. The animation and designation of public space of various kinds for collective, imaginative work, has been central to vessel’s working practices.
I believe the curator should engage with curatorial projects more as a researcher and as an instigator and creator of process (a ‘process maker’ in the words of Claire Doherty) rather than simply as a project manager, arbiter of taste, or cultural broker. This has very much been the modus operandi of vessel, which takes into account the complex social, cultural, economic, and political assemblages of our contemporary global world, as well as the multidisciplinarity of the curatorship field. My current practice employs participatory methods that collectively make process and which are predicated on working together with arts professionals from different geographical and socio-political areas.
Across multiple projects during the past five years as Curator of Public Engagement at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow, Scotland, I brought together artists, social workers, activists, politicians, scholars, chefs and gardeners, amongst others. My role was one of catalyst-process maker to allow diverse multicultural interactions to be initiated and for participants to share and validate their respective ‘knowledges’.
I have researched and curated various public programmes and artist commissions in recent years, including a new community-produced strawberry drink by Kathrin Bӧhm (2017)! I often work in collaboration with others, and co-curated the exhibition project, ‘The House That Heals The Soul’ (2017), co-editing with a group of asylum claimants a publication entitled, ‘Other Libraries’ (2017). I devoted much of my curatorial research at CCA to the global and local development of socially-engaged art practice. Outcomes of this research have been disseminated through CCA by way of the symposium ‘Social Intentions’ (2016); the events programme ‘Intentions in Action’ (2016-2017); the exhibition ‘Forms of Action’ (2017); and a publication of the same title.
Prior to taking up my role at CCA, I produced and contributed to a wide range of international projects, including the ‘Young Artist of the Year Award’ 2014 (YAYA), Ramallah, which supported young Palestinian artists with a curatorial focus, and the 4th Athens Biennale, which reimagined the biennale format as a space for cultural debate and grassroots organizing.
I have been commissioned to speak at several biennales including Jakarta, Athens, Istanbul, and Venice, as well as various international conferences, such as, recently, Veem House for Performance, Amsterdam (2019), Creative Desk EU, Czech Republic (2019), and the CAPP - Staging Post Practice, Participation Politics at Live Art Development Agency (LADA), London (2017). I have been a participant in the AICA International Summer Seminar Program In Yerevan, Armenia; the European Course of Contemporary Art Curators in Milan, Italy); the Gwangju Foundation Course for International Curators); the ICI Curatorial Intensive at CCA Derry-Londonderry; and the Pistoletto Foundation’s Cittadellarte/UNIDEE workshop on ‘Social Engaged Art Practices and Art Education’.
Other academic work includes lecturing for the ‘Curating Contemporary Art’ Masters programme at The Glasgow School of Art, and tutoring for the ‘Community Development and Adult Education’ Masters at the University of Glasgow. I am a visiting lecturer to the MRes ‘Art-Exhibition Studies’ at Central Saint Martins, London, and have lectured for: ‘Social Practice and the Creative Environment' Masters at Limerick School of Art and Design; the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York; the International Academy of Art Palestine; and the V-A-C Foundation’s Summer Curatorial School in Moscow.
With Anna Santomauro, I received the 2013 ICI/DEDALUS Research Award for research carried out in the United States into the legacy of Mary Jane Jacob project Culture in Action, and in 2016 I was awarded the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory Laureate’s Choice for my contributions to the comprehension of and international interest in Eastern European art. I hold a PhD from Loughborough University on curatorial practice contextualised by European Regional Development Funding in the Euro-Med region between 2005-2015.