By Kyle Cohlmia
Lucy Cotter, artist, curator, and writer sat down with Adela Demetja and collaborators Raluca Croitoru and Emily Henderson to discuss their upcoming performative exhibit, Nexus 1, which also includes work by Dante Buu, Adrian McBride and Selma Selman. The conversation was held at NW Documentary on Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 at 12:30 p.m.
During the conversation, Adela Demetja, artist and curator currently based out of Albania and Frankfurt, dove into to the collaborative process of her most recent project, Nexus 1, a time-based exhibit including herself and four other artists from Europe and the US. She outlines this experimental exhibition as a “development of my work over the last ten years,” and an expansion of the traditional exhibit format. Raluca Croitoru and Emily Henderson followed to introduce their involvement with the project.
Demetja met Croitoru, visual artist and performer from the Netherlands, in New York last year during Croitoru’s residency. The project includes Croitoru’s performative work, as she describes as a mix of choreography as an aesthetic practice and social commentary. Additionally, during her residency at PNCA and PICA, Demetja developed a relationship with Henderson, art historian, writer and curator from Portland. The exhibit will include an auditory layer of the conversation-turned-long-form-poem between Demetja and Henderson that discusses their public and personal lives as well as art in the context of their current locations.
Two other Nexus artists were in the audience, Dante Buu from Rozaje, who stated that he utilizes embroidery to symbolize the importance of storytelling in otherwise voiceless communities and Selma Selman from Bihac and NYC, whose work, she describes as, connecting to the theory of quantum physics called superposition, representing her own identity and the possibility of all people existing in all spaces. Not present was Adrian McBride, an artist and musician from Portland, who was at the site creating sound for the performance.
The term nexus is Latin for binding or binding together. Nexus brings together these artists, a “constellation of individuals,” as Cotter expressed. Additionally, Cotter explained the process of creating this unique form of exhibition, whereas the five artists have six days to collaborate intensively with the starting piece that they initially brought with them; the final product working collectively, while each piece can separately exist on its own.
While listening to the four women on stage discuss their work, the direction of contemporary curation and the collaboration of Nexus, I kept thinking about the term vulnerability. For the artists, the vulnerability to step into the space of uncontrollability (Croitoru illustrating as, “at times, the work controls me,” and where Henderson expresses as the “not knowing”) positions them into a new realm of artmaking where their work is not only ephemeral but contextually dependent on one another. Additionally, curator, Demetja invites vulnerability by creating a non-traditional exhibition form, pushing against old artifices and leaving behind long-established notions of how and how long artwork should be displayed. For the public, the viewer can be vulnerable to experience something new, the additive layers of text, movement, aesthetics, sound, and poetics, combine the practices of these artists whose perspectives come from various locations and socio-political contexts but simultaneously collide into one piece.
This delightful and inspiring conversation between Demetja, Croitoru, Henderson and Cotter was saturated with the theme of vulnerability, which is required by all to collaborate, curate, and view this exhibit in totality, to take in the separate and multifaceted layers that expand and contract into the embodied experience that is Nexus 1.
Nexus 1 performances will take place at Pacific Northwest College of Art on Thursday, September 12th and Friday, September 13th at 6:30 p.m.