By Visual Arts team

15 December 2017 - 13:00

Co-curators Manuela and Chris at the preview evening of ...into the labyrinth on 23 November 2017. ©

Apapat Jai-in

Manuela Zammit and Chris Bailkoski, both students on the MA/MFA Contemporary Curating course at Manchester School of Art, co-curated an exhibition of Fellows’ work at the International 3 gallery in Salford. For one week, eight students exhibited works inspired by their Venice Fellowship. Prints, sculptures, digital works and drawings were on display. Read an interview with Manuela about the show. 

How did the exhibition come about? 

The exhibition happened as a result of being approached by both universities and the British Council with the proposition of doing something to show our work post-Venice. After an intense month in Venice, each Fellow's practice was undoubtedly influenced and probably greatly enhanced by their experience. It is interesting to regroup a few months on, to reflect on and showcase each individual's processes and the outcomes. 

Venice is something we all have in common, so it made much sense to come together in the same space as students from two schools within close proximity. At the same time, this event serves as a platform to more visibility for our work, hopefully leading to something greater. ...into the labyrinth was the perfect opportunity to both look back on our experience and look forward to what comes next. 

What did you and Chris as co-curators want to achieve?

Our aim was to find a way in which everyone's work could stand out as a unique piece showing each artist’s individuality, while at the same time reflecting the common experience that we all had of living in and navigating the labyrinthine city of Venice. The common setting in which each of us was present, inspired each one of us in very diverse ways and that really needed to come across through the show. We really wanted this exhibition to testify how a steward-research fellowship in Venice influences a creative practice and use this event to take the conversation further and unlock more opportunities.

What has been the response of the universities and supporters such as International 3?

Each institution responded positively and was eager to be part of this event as well as offer various forms of support to make it materialise. Both universities were happy to see their students capitalise on the momentum they gained from going to Venice and taking it a step further. The International 3 were excited to host this event as the last one prior to their permanent closure, as it fit perfectly with their ethos of supporting young artists and practitioners early on in their career. Each party involved is very happy to remain open for conversation and future suggestions, which is also very encouraging and demonstrates that there is interest in our work and space for it to develop. 

Sarah Boulter’s ultra-feminine work displayed on TV screens at ...into the labyrinth ©

Manuela Zammit

Chris Bailkoski’s presentation of his research into the Manchester Pavilion. ©

Sarah Boulter

Do the Fellows have any future plans to showcase their work?

I am quite confident that this is in everyone's pipeline, particularly after ...into the labyrinth was received very positively on the Manchester and Salford art scenes. I believe that the exhibition can be a very solid stepping stone in looking for outlets where the work can be shown. We are all at different stages in our practice - some of us are still studying while others have just finished their course - there are also different levels of experience in the group, but ultimately we all want to be seen and make an impact with what we produce. 

What key conversations came from the panel discussion you also hosted?

I felt that the subject of identity came up quite frequently and in various senses. We talked about how being in Venice afforded each of us the opportunity to position ourselves and our practice within something much bigger and broader than the scene where we are based. We reflected on how an experience as intense as Venice and the Venice Biennale really shapes one's views about the art world and what it is. We also discussed the notion of national identity and whether the traditional model of having national pavilions, with particular reference to the permanent structures in the Giardini, is still relevant to a contemporary biennale happening in a globalised art world. From all this emerged that the Venice Biennale is an important event at the centre of the contemporary art world that brings both beginners and seasoned professionals to the same ground and is a key space from which to draw inspiration, ideas and other raw material to take back and employ in one's practice.