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Interview: Tim Goossens On Curating 'Larger Than Love' For the Berlin Biennale


The US-based art world wunderkind talks about his latest project, Berlin's hot spots, and art's ongoing love affair with fashion.

Out: How did this work, "Larger Than Love," come about? How did it come together for you?

Tim Goossens: Originally I met Shony Rivnay--the artist who made the sculpture--through Thomas Rom, the founder and CEO of a consultancy company called Think You. They connect artists with grants and museums and placements. He knew Shony's work for a long time and found the space we're using, which we actually got for free through his negotiations. I don't know how he does it. He asked me to curate, and we thought it would be good to add another element to it. I knew of a sound artist here, Lindsay Compton, who created a work from scratch relating to the piece, so it became more of an immersive environment.

What are your thoughts on the Internet's effect, or technology's effect, on art over the last few years?

Well, there's someone like Cory Arcangel, who's been doing it for years. Overall, it makes life a lot easier. It also definitely helps in promoting institutions and galleries by using the Internet--especially blogs. It creates a social network. We featured Q&As with some of the artists, asked them to keep a visual diary, and such. We basically documented the installation process from scrubbing the floor to the VIP opening.

Scrubbing the floor must have been pretty glamorous.

Yeah (laughs). I used to work at MoMA PS1 (when it was simply PS1) which was such small team that everyone did a bit of everything. I hope I'm the kind of curator that's very hands on.

PS1 feels like it has a big team. That's interesting.

The budget has definitely gone up, but when I was working there, we had about 15 people.

Wow, it just feels like there's always something going on.

Yes, yes. It was very much like a dysfunctional family. We could yell at each other, but we were still working very closely.

Do you see any general trends in the art world? It seems to be coming back to the forefront of people's minds lately and there's more attention on it. Any thoughts on that?

It's kind of hard to judge as someone who's on the inside of the art world. I don't know if the public has now have become more aware of the art community. It is a Whitney Biennial year, so maybe people are writing more about it because it is, in a way, a big year for the field.

Timgoossens-grzegorzlepiarz-mainWell there was the Maurizio Cattelan show at the Guggenheim, and now Cindy Sherman's retrospective at MoMA. There are a lot of high-profile exhibits, but there are also a lot of newer names that people haven't heard before.

Maybe it's because the economy is doing better and people are getting ambitious again--like doing their own pop-up galleries. Earlier this week, someone was speaking about the Turner Award in the UK, which is such a mainstream thing, and I wonder how they keep such a wide audience. But we have to ask: Is it art? I don't know if more attention is necessarily a good thing. Institutions in the art world in general could be a little bit more educational about things, less snobby, maybe. I also think that public art is important--that's what I love about cities like New York.

What do you see as the connection between fashion and art? Artists and fashion people have always been very intertwined, its so widespread now. As someone who helps facilitate those relationships, as with Club Monaco (a sponsor of "Larger Than Love") why do you think makes those two worlds meet so often?

At least in the 20th century, it has always been the case. In early-20th century ballets, artists designed the costumes. Or Schiaparelli collaborating with Salvador Dali. Now I think some fashion brands just use it but then you have designers like Miuccia Prada or Comme des Garcons' Rei Kawakubo who don't commission it, and it feels more respectful. They see something they like and buy the rights to it and they'll use existing artwork in campaigns.

Do you go to Berlin a lot? Are you very familiar with the city?

Yeah, I'm from Belgium originally, and I've been coming here on and off for the last 10 years.

What are your favorite places to visit?

It has changed a lot--they have a Soho House now. I never was a member, but I became a committee member in New York so now I'm a worldwide member and I've actually started hanging out there. We saw Sonic Youth when we were eating there but I did a very New York thing: I was like, Whatever...don't even look at them (laughs). Everyone is raving about this new place called Tausend, which apparently is the new hip club. It sounds like something from Sex in the City, where you need a key to get in. Through Tommy and Lindsay, we're getting some sponsors and throwng a party there.

So you will have the key.

Apparently we get one! And then there's a great store which has been around for a while, called Apartment, its like Opening Ceremony or Seven. They say Berlin is like the biggest village in the world, and it does feel like a village. Perhaps because it's very cheap to live here. People aren't driven in the same way New Yorkers are, I think.

Do you think that affects the art communities in New York versus Berlin. Here you have so much rent to pay, you have to be driven in a different way. Do art scenes reflect the nature of a city?

Definitely. I feel that Americans in New York are so much better about speaking about their work. I still meet people here who don't even have a website. There are still collectives here, but some go elsewhere to show their work.

So what else do you have coming up?

Right now, in New York, I've curated a Stephen Posen show. He graduated in the mid-'60s from Yale in the same year as Richard Serra and Chuck Close. They're like buddies, they were in the Fulbright program together. For the last six years he's taken a break, but I met him, we became friends, and we ended up doing a show together. It's in a penthouse on Gramercy Park, like a pop-up kind of show, that opened last week. I also just started working (as curatorial director) at envoy enterprises, so there's a lot to do there...I'm excited.

"Larger Than Love" opens today at Halle am Wasser, located behind the Hamburger Bahnhof.

Photo of "Larger Than Life" (top) courtesy of Facebook; Photos of Tim Goossens courtesy of Grzegorz Lepiarz

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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