To the Holden: Past, Present and Future


machines will watch us die has now ended. A big thank you to all who visited.

With this letter, I want to thank Holden Gallery’s Steven Gartside and Zoe Watson, the volunteers (Faye, Lauren, Poppy, Rudy and Tuesday), and all the techs, for their support.

I am a researcher in curatorial practice who wishes to be a curator. I am lucky enough to study and work at the Manchester School of Art whose gallery, the Holden Gallery, is led by a curator and an assistant curator who very generously share their curatorial knowledge through a great program of international exhibitions.

I believe the Holden Gallery is one of the very few international contemporary galleries in Manchester, and I feel privileged to say that machines will watch us die, the exhibition I curated as part of my practice-based PhD in curatorial practice, is now part of the Holden’s programme.

Sometimes I hear that the Holdendoes not represent the work of the students as well as it could. This is something that I have never fully grasped as 1/3 of the programme is made of the Degree Show and the MA Show. A part form that, how can the practice of showcasing international artists not be considered ‘of’ the students?

I was fortunate enough to be present when Lubaina Humid, Turner Prize winner 2017, gave a keynote at the conference Textile and Place (April 2018, Manchester School of Art). She said that, when walking into a gallery she always experiences art as hers. The feeling of owning what is on show, rather than just owning the space, is here fundamental. Students would have to travel to London to have the chance to experience – and make theirs as Lubaina was saying – such a variety of contemporary artworks. For a great number of students, studying at the Manchester School of Art means that they can just ‘walk through art’ on their way to the studios.

Also, as a student whose practice does not fall under the umbrella of ‘art practice’, the Holden Gallery has always offered opportunities to MA students in curating who wish to get involve and gain experience in a real gallery environment.

For those who don’t know me, I moved to Manchester in 2011 to do the MA in Contemporary Curating. I co-curated my first show at the Holden in 2013, creation/destructionand, around that time, saw the beginning of a change. Since then, the Holden Gallery produced a number of exhibitions of what seems to have become the underdog in Manchester: international contemporary art. (Okay, let’s leave out MIF in this equation. I am talking of the everyday here, not of the biennial experience).

And let me just say, as a student, the Holden Gallery was my only chance to complete my PhD in curatorial practice with a real exhibition. Due to the current funding restrictions in the UK, students aren’t welcome to apply to most grants. Without the Holden Gallery, I would have not been able to afford curating the show I had in my head for years. Also, as a semi-funded PhD (I am grateful to MIRIAD – now PACH –  to support me with a fee only scholarship), I would not have had the means to get the works I wanted.

I’m very proud of myself for the work I’ve done. But again, it would not have been possible without the help of Steven and Zoe. I also believe that if I got the artists I wanted, it is also merit of the Holden’slist of previous exhibitions and featured artists. Meriç Algün, Fiona Banner, Sam Durant, Shannon Ebner and Kerry Tribe; Lara Almarcegui, Becky Beasley, Derek Brunen, Cyprien Gaillard, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs; Zoe Beloff, Laurent Grasso, Bridget Smith, Clare Strand and Suzanne Treister; David Claerbout, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Hans Op de Beeck, Adrian Paci, Hannah Starkey; Martin Boyce, Peter Doig, Marine Hugonnier and Rachel Whiteread.

… and the list goes on…

I started this letter just to say thank you but… oh well…

Here it is…

A huge ‘thank you’ to Steven Gartside for trusting me with the Holden Gallery and for giving me the chance to showcase my skills and divulgate my research with the most eclectic audience: students, staff and visitors.

And ‘thank you’ to Zoe Watson for sharing with me your knowledge of how the space works, for dedicating so many hours to machines, and for putting up with my moods.

As I always say, we can’t please everyone, but if the show has reached, inspired or even slightly was of interest to just one student… I can say I did my job correctly.

Very best to everyone,

Patrizia – Patti – Costantin


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