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"The Art of Conversation": a New Yorker profile on Hans Ulrich Obrist


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Hans Ulrich Obrist

The omnipresent curator Hans Ulrich Obrist is the subject of a recent New Yorker profile. I have to admit, I’ve been curious about HUO’s upbringing and work schedule (how does he travel EVERY weekend?!). This long-form profile, written from the perspective of an intelligent art-world outlier, will satiate just about any lingering curiosity you had about HUO.

I am left wondering, however, whether this is a sustainable practice:

On the twelve weekends before I saw him in London, H.U.O., as Obrist is known, had been in Basel, for the art fair; Ronchamp, France, for a wedding, in the chapel designed by Le Corbusier; Munich, for a talk with Matthew Barney; Berlin, where he maintains an apartment primarily to house ten thousand books, for an interview with Rosemarie Trockel; Frankfurt, for a panel with Peter Fischli; Arles, where he is helping to design a new museum; Singapore, to meet emerging artists; Munich again, to interview the young Estonian artist Katja Novitskova; Los Angeles, for a panel on art and Instagram; Vienna, to guest-curate an exhibit of unrealized design projects; Majorca, to see Miquel Barceló’s ceramic murals in the cathedral; Edinburgh, where Obrist’s new memoir, “Ways of Curating,” was featured at the book fair; and Vancouver, where he appeared onstage with the novelist and futurist Douglas Coupland. In all these locales, he saw as much art as he could, but he also visited scientists and historians. He believes that, because culture is becoming more interconnected across geography and across disciplines, his knowledge must expand far beyond the visual arts: to technology, literature, anthropology, cultural criticism, philosophy. These disciplines, in turn, become tools in Obrist’s attempt to fertilize the arts with fresh ideas.