Bethan Cooke talks about her "Curators of Tomorrow" residency
1 September 2022
We are delighted to announce that the "Curators of Tomorrow" fellowship program launched its second edition in July 2022
The "Curators of Tomorrow" program is a collaborative effort between Q21/MuseumsQuartier Wien and MA/MFA Contemporary Curating programme in recognising the importance of working internationally.
This international residency aims to support students to develop their practice internationally and make new connections with peers in the Fellowship while ensuring international exchange activities. The initiation of this fellowship program is designed mainly for students who are about to engage with the professional practice stage of their MA/MFA Contemporary Curating studies at Manchester School of Art.
The Fellowship is mostly self-directed and each participant is given the opportunity to live and work for the period of one month in one of the Q21 studios at MuseumsQuartier Wien in Vienna and one of our emerging curators Bethan Cooke has been the selected participant of the second edition of this rare initiative.
Bethan joined us in this interview to talk about her academic experience with her studies as well as her residency experience with her fellowship, conducted by Dr Gulsen Bal (Programme Leader in MA/MFA Contemporary Curating).
Gulsen: Could you please tell us about yourself and your experience with your academic studies on the MA Contemporary Curating programme at Manchester School of Art?
Bethan: Before joining the Contemporary Curating MA at Manchester School of Art, I gained my BA in History of Art. While studying History of Art, I developed an interest in organising arts events and exhibitions, so it felt natural to move onto studying curating following this. My final dissertation for my MA explored how the city as a space determines individual and collective memory. In particular, I examined how a growing sense of neoliberalism in cities changes and affects women’s experiences within them.
Gulsen: Candidates are selected through a competitive application process... So, can you tell us what inspired you to apply to this specific international Fellowship and what you hoped to achieve through this unique fellowship opportunity?
Bethan: I applied for the Fellowship as I was interested in exploring my existing research outside of a purely academic context. The Q21 fellowship is exciting as it provides residencies for artists and cultural practitioners from around the world, so I knew there would be the opportunity to have discussions with and learn from a variety of people who I otherwise may not have been aware of. With one of my areas of research being psychogeography in cities, I was also attracted to the idea of spending an extended period of time in a city I had little prior knowledge of, as I could put my own research findings into practice.
Gulsen: What are the curating issues you hoped to address through your residency? And maybe you could share your thoughts about the benefits of embarking on a one-month fellowship in Vienna and how this impacted on your curatorial thinking?
Bethan: My proposal for the Q21 fellowship was to carry out deeper research into how we build identity in the present day, particularly in relation to the spaces we inhabit. In relation to this, I then wanted to look at how our individual and collective identities affect our perception of these spaces. The residency was the perfect place to carry out this kind of research, as I was able to have meaningful discussions with people local to Vienna, as well as those from different countries. Being able to access the cultural institutions that make up the MuseumsQuartier as well as others around the city was exciting, particularly after a long time of not being able to visit such places due to Covid restrictions. Altogether, I feel as though spending time away from my ‘day-to-day’ life has allowed me to discover new possibilities for where both my work and myself could end up.