Following this year's Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition, New Contemporaries director Kirsty Ogg reflects on her experience of the show.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015 boldly played with artistic processes, questioned notions of sculpture and painting and twisted our perceptions of gender and sexuality. This is not an exhaustive list of the thematics in this year’s exhibition, but it’s a taster of the varied and broad preoccupations and practices of an up-and-coming generation of artists.
Our most public and nationally-recognised activity is the annual touring exhibition, and this year we were delighted, if not a little overwhelmed, to welcome over 2,400 guests through the doors of the ICA on the opening night; an impressive and record figure, showing the public interest in, and engagement with, talent emerging form UK art schools.
The annual Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition is not the extent of our activities. 2015 has seen us develop our work and our partnerships to help make artistic practices more sustainable in today’s climate. In November, in conjunction with Art Fund we hosted a day-long symposium at the ICA that tackled the conditions of practice and what it takes to be a successful artist. Our alumni from across the years, alongside key art world figures entered into lively debate about the art market, the future of funding, studios and support networks. The audience—who braved an early start on a Saturday morning—was brimming with journalists, emerging and established artists, arts managers and art industry professionals, all of whom contributed to making this such an informative day.
For the second year running we partnered with ArtQuest to provide bespoke one-to-one mentoring offered to each of the 38 artists selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015. One clear point of agreement that emerged from the symposium was that there is a disintegrating support structure for younger artists, which makes it even more critically important that we are able to provide continuing support to our alumni across the years.
I can’t sum up this year without mentioning our venue partners. It was a pleasure to launch our Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015 tour in Nottingham with the New Midland Group across their three venues: Backlit, One Thorsby Street and Primary. In addition to the exhibition, a broad-ranging public programme also brought New Art Exchange, Nottingham Castle and Nottingham Contemporary into play with discussions around open submission shows and the future of art education. We also presented our element of the first year of the Syllabus, a partner project that operates like an alternative MA programme, while our alumni were ever present, including a fantastic event The Shy Convention, hosted by Gillian Wearing at Backlit. It was the first time New Contemporaries had visited the city and we were very much made to feel at home in their vibrant and varied arts scene.
It is of course a great pleasure to bring Bloomberg New Contemporaries back to the ICA for the 6th year running. The supporting programme of talks, symposia, workshops, screenings and peer mentoring has created a dynamic energy around the exhibition.
There is a lot of satisfaction in my role as Director of New Contemporaries, especially when so many of our alumni go on to be successful and establish themselves within the national and international arts community. It is always a little sad when an exhibition closes, but we are soon working on the next edition. Our 2016 selectors have been chosen, with Alan Kane and Haroon Mirza joining Anya Gallaccio. In February they will start the gargantuan task of first round selection when every artists and their work is considered to draw up the long-list for second round. The consideration of actual works takes place in March, with the artists selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016 announced in April. This year we are delighted to be launching at Bluecoat in July as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016, before returning to ICA in November. ■
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015 ran 25 November 2015 - 24 January 2016.