Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The junction makers

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Sergei Diaghilev by Valentin Serov

Definitely, for me, [Diaghilev] is one of the great curators of the twentieth century. With his Ballet Russes, in the years between 1909 and 1929, he obviously revolutionized the world of dance. But they also gave incredible input into theatre design, into collaborations between artists, dancers and choreographers, between ballet, architecture, music and sound. If you think about these encounters—it was almost like a gesamtkunstwerk [an ideal synthesis of all the arts].

Composers of the importance of Stravinsky would do the sound, artists of the importance of Picasso or Braque or the Russian constructivists Goncharova or Popova would do stage sets. The dancers would be the likes of Nijinksy. Massine and Jean Cocteau are involved. And Diaghilev is the impresario who brings it all together and orchestrates it. In my very first exchange with J.G. Ballard, by fax, I asked him about my profession, about curating, and he defined it as ideally a kind of a junction making. Diaghilev is the great junction-maker of the twentieth century. Curating is not only about bringing people into contact with objects. It is also objects and objects, and also about people and people.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, to Five Books

Written by nevalalee

December 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

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