Category Archives: Open Call Concept

Art/Artist Ideas for Open Call

I started to think about the type of artwork I would like to see in my exhibition proposal for Hayward Touring.

As mentioned in my previous post, I wish to base my concept on the idea of the sacred and a contemporary take on hierotopy – the creation of sacred places and the importance of the object in making places sacred.

I decided to research into art that could be considered to have transcendent or sublime qualities.  I am also interested in finding pieces which refer to preservation – to correspond to the idea of the preservation of ancient relics and what one values as significant.  Furthermore, I would also like to include work which could evoke a subconscious or conscious recognition and familiarity within the audience – pieces akin to the profundity of ancient iconography.

My initial thoughts led me to Abstract Expressionism’s concerns with the sublime and spiritual.  I also thought about Kazimir Malevich’s, Black Square, 1915 and its display at 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition, where its placement in the corner gave a sense of the all seeing eye.

Kazimir Malevich’s, Black Square, 1915 and its display at 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition. Image available at Elders, Z. (2013) 0,10 Exhibition [online]. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum. Available at:
However, I feel that these movements and pieces would be too obvious with regard to the sacred or transcendence and would not present an original exhibition concept.

Therefore, I decided to research into more contemporary artists’ work who have been active over the last 10-20yrs.  Also, as I am a student at the start of my curatorial journey, it would be difficult to successfully gain access to these high-profile pieces.  Having said this, I feel that a curator is in a position where they can bring new, lesser known but more innovative art to an audience and in doing so, also show their support for emerging artists.


Elders, Z. (2013) 0,10 Exhibition [online]. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum. Available at:

Concept: Hierotopy

During my research online into sacred places, I came across the word “Hierotopy”.

Hierotopy is a concept relating to the creation of sacred spaces and concerns human creative activity, particularly in historical terms.  The term and concept was invented in 2001 by Alexei Lidov, a Russian art historian and Director of Research at the Institute for World Culture at the Lomonosov Moscow State University.

In Lidov’s 2006 paper Hierotopy: The Creation of Sacred Spaces as a form of Creativity and Subject of Cultural HistoryLidov explains the definition:

The term ‘hierotopy’ (ierotopia) consists of two Greek roots: hieros (sacred) and topos (place, space, notion) (Lidov, 2006, online)

He goes on to explain how hierotopy differs from hierophany:

hierophany [is the] direct manifestation of the sacred and hierotopy [is the] creation of the sacred space by human hands to commemorate a specific hierophany (Lidov, 2006, online)

Lidov discusses how man-made objects i.e. relics, idols and/or iconography, as well as rituals and prayer play an important role in the creation of a sacred place.

Although Lidov’s concept is in a historical and religious context, I decided this would be a perfect starting point for my proposal.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I liked the idea of having a touring sacred place which a wider audience could visit, as opposed to people traveling to a distance, unmovable sacred wonder.

I would not be focusing on religious ideas, as I feel people are perhaps becoming a little apathetic to religion and looking for something more.  This has come across during my dissertation research whilst looking into spirituality.  In the book Refiguring the Spiritual, Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy, 2012 author Mark Taylor a philosopher of religion highlights the change of attitude toward religion in today’s society, writing:

There has been a global resurgence of conservative religion throughout the world that all too often has resulted in growing intolerance and even violence.  This unexpected turn of events has led to an understandable reaction against religion in all of its manifestations.

But something else is also going on as well.  Although traditional forms of religious belief and practice have been subjected to trenchant criticisms, alternative forms of spirituality are thriving.  Many people who are committed to no organized religion willingly identify themselves as spiritual (Taylor, 2012, p13).

Therefore, I will be looking at contemporary art that has a spiritual resonance as well as blurring the lines between the ideas of the historical sacred place, man’s need to create and what one defines as sacred.


Lidov, A. (2006) Hierotopy: The Creation of Sacred Spaces as a form of Creativity and Subject of Cultural History [online]. San Francisco: 2014. Available from:

Taylor, M. (2012) Refiguring the Spiritual – Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy. New York: Columbia University Press


Open Call Ideas: Sacred Spaces

Following a class discussion led my tutor regarding our initial search for suitable curatorial open calls, I decided that I would respond to the Hayward Touring Curatorial Open Call 2014.  Although the deadline for submissions had already closed, I felt this would be a good example to develop an idea, with a view to submitting proposals in future years.

This call is open to anyone who has an interesting and imaginative idea to propose for an exhibition and therefore not limited to just professional curators.  However, it does state on the guidelines that “Applicants must be at least one year out of college or equivalent”.  After consulting with my tutor Edith Doove, it was confirmed that I could go ahead with this proposal for my assignment because it was a “dead call” and therefore I would not be officially applying during my final year of studies anyway.

The Hayward Touring Curatorial Open takes place across the UK, touring to Liverpool’s Bluecoat Gallery, Newcastle’s BALTIC, Norwich University of Arts Gallery and another yet to be disclosed venue.

I feel this is an excellent opportunity for artists to showcase their work in several gallery spaces and cities around the country.  Furthermore, the touring element of the exhibition allows for a wider audience to view the work.

Following my decision to create a proposal for the Hayward Touring Curatorial Open, I considered what my concept could be as the open call specified no set theme.

During my CURA302 project when I had looked into ritual and spirituality, I had watched the BBC series Sacred Wonders of Britain, 2013 presented by Archeologist and historian Neil Oliver.

In the first episode looked at Paleolithic  and Neolithic sacred grounds in Britain.

Oliver discusses how the rituals and beliefs of our ancestors suggest that they were concerned with how the world worked around them and how they discovered their place within it, by connecting to the landscape around them.  Throughout the program Oliver gives several examples of sacred grounds including:

  • Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire – where engravings of animals have been etched into the rock by paleolithic hunter gatherers, suggesting magical, spiritual or religious activities;
  • Ancient Neolithic burial tombs in the south of England and Scottish Borders show how the people began to landscape Britain with monuments – the large upturned stones may suggest the dead spirits bodies or act as reminders of the founding generations of the area – elevating them to the position of deities;
  • Flint mines of Grimes Graves, Norfolk – suggesting that the neolithic people may have carried out rites of passage and rebirth initiations;
  • The stone circle and henge of Avebury, Wiltshire – seemingly ceremonial areas;
  • Orkney’s monuments.

Part of the stone circle at Avebury.  Image available from:

Part of the stone circle at Avebury. Image available from:

Oliver highlights how these areas have become pilgrimages – even for people today who travel for many reasons to see the sacred places across Britain.

While walking through the upturned parallel sarsen stones of Avebury ,Oliver questions Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archeologist as to what present day man can gain from  these places.  Snashall responds by highlighting that any form of architecture was very new in neolithic times.  The modern day visitor can sense how the physicality of the stones affects how they see, hear and feel about how the ancient people would have felt while putting these stones up – the effort involved and the journey paved out by the stones (BBC2 (30/12/13) Sacred Wonders of Britain, Episode 1)

 With this in mind, I started to think about proposing an exhibition based around the idea of sacred grounds or objects.  As mentioned above, people from across the world can travel miles to visit sacred places for many reasons including spiritual, religious or meditative experiences.
I decided that as the open call was for a touring exhibition, it would be an interesting prospect to create a touring “sacred” experience i.e. instead of people traveling to a sacred place, the sacred place would come to the people.
I do not wish to create a religious experience and base the exhibition on religious iconography etc.  Rather, I would wish to include objects which I would describe as contemporary art “relics”.  These would be artworks which suggest spiritual or awe-inspiring thoughts and feelings within the viewer – or at least pieces that have had some resonance or profundity for myself.
BBC2 (30/12/13) Sacred Wonders of Britain, Episode 1.