Cultured Magazine

April/May 2016

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COURTESY OF CASTELLO DI RIVOLI MUSEO D'ARTE CONTEMPORANEA for her handling of Documenta, the sprawling exhibition that takes over Kassel, Germany, every five years. The show, which mixed contemporary art with scientific projects and art-historical and political artifacts—including Afghan artworks saved from the Taliban and a photograph of Hitler's bathtub—seemed so in tune with the world's concerns that she has been acclaimed as an important curator ever since. Last September, she did it again with the Istanbul Biennial. Its title, "Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms," seemed hazy when it was announced last April, with a curatorial statement that began: "With and through art, we commit ourselves to the possibility of joy and vitality, leaping from form to flourishing life." But by September when the show opened, the theme suddenly turned sharply relevant as refugees piled onto boats and the salt water of the Bosphorus filled up with bodies, dead and alive. Christov-Bakargiev maintains her timing wasn't just lucky. "I am very sensitive to what goes on in the world in terms of politics, society, research, philosophy," she says. And while the number of desperate refugees had suddenly become newsworthy, she adds that anyone paying attention would realize that others had been making the crossing for years. "It's not a new story, so if you're going to do a biennial on the Mediterranean, you'd better be aware of this history," she says. Now Christov-Bakargiev is training her sights on a more traditional project: Since January 1, she has been the director of Turin's most important contemporary art museums, the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino (GAM), and Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, which will merge in a few months. GAM, founded in 1863, is Italy's oldest museum of modern art, and the Castello, Italy's first contemporary art museum, opened in 1984. Christov-Bakargiev already knows the area and its museums well: She was the Castello's chief curator from 2002 to 2008 and its interim director in 2009. Though she was born and raised in America, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pisa, just four hours away. Throughout the fall, working as a consultant, Christov-Bakargiev In 2012, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev won rave reviews 192 culturedmag.com

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