Art&Ocean: Tom Trevor - The Space of Flows
Liquidity, in today’s global network society, is a primary metaphor for an emerging ‘space of flows’, encompassing the accelerated movement of people, of global capital, of digital images and of information generally, now circulating around the planet. Sociologist, Manuel Castells coined the term ‘a space of flows’, in his book The Rise of the Network Society, as a way of understanding these new conditions, emerging from the all-pervasive flood of digital communications. With the acceleration of globalisation, the rapid developments of information technology and the relentless advance of neo-liberalism over the past twenty-five years, many disparate worlds have become interconnected and contemporaneous with each other. This multiplicity is characterised by massive demographic shifts, diaspora, labour migrations, rapid movements of global capital and speeded-up processes of cultural hybridization. Thus, ‘the contemporary’ could be said to refer to a worldwide situation, the most definitive characteristic of which is the experience of being immersed in a deluge of information, marked by an unprecedented diversity and depth of difference, by the coexistence of incommensurable viewpoints and by the absence of an all-encompassing narrative (such as modernity) that will enlist the participation of all. Within this confluence of multiple temporalities, many different currents compete for ascendency, but with no clear vison of the future. The flow of time has accelerated to such an extent that we seem to be locked in a perpetual present, described by Castells as a ‘timeless time’, in which ‘the space of flows [...] dissolves time, by disordering the sequence of events and making them simultaneous, thus installing society in an eternal ephemerality.’ Without a clear vision of the future or a shared belief in the continual transformation of society for the better, the question arises, how will the role of the artist function and change, drifting in the wake of utopian imaginaries - after the future?
Tom Trevor is Artistic Director of the Atlantic Project, leading on the development of a new international biennial festival of contemporary art for the South West of England, in the lead-up to the Mayflower 400 anniversary in 2020. He is also Guest Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. Previously he was Artistic Director of the 4th Dojima River Biennale in Osaka, Japan (2014-15), curatorial consultant to the 1st ARoS Triennial in Aarhus, Denmark (2014-15), Guest Curator at the Devi Art Foundation in Delhi, India (2013-14), Director of Arnolfini in Bristol, UK (2005-13), Associate Curator of the Art Fund International collection (2007-12) and Director of Spacex in Exeter, UK (1999-2005).
As a champion of experimental emerging practice, Trevor has curated more than 100 projects, including numerous early career shows of artists as well as first UK exhibitions of renowned international figures such as Maria Thereza Alves, Cosima von Bonin, Matti Braun, Tania Bruguera, Meschac Gaba, Doris Salcedo, Do Ho Suh, Joelle Tuerlinckx, Lois Weinberger and Haegue Yang, amongst others. He has curated numerous group exhibitions and led on large-scale international initiatives (e.g. introducing Japanese audiences to the work of artists such as Melanie Gilligan, Michael Stevenson, Hito Steyerl and SUPERFLEX for the first time). He also has experience of interdisciplinary programming, including performance art, experimental music, dance, film, digital and online projects.
Trevor’s recent curated projects include Music for Museums (a series of performances, film screenings and sound interventions) throughout the Whitechapel Gallery (2015-16); the 4th Dojima River Biennale in Osaka (2015), entitled Take Me To The River (with artists from eight countries showing alongside emerging and established practitioners from Japan); Black Sun at the Devi Art Foundation in Delhi (2013) (including leading artists from the South Asian diaspora); and Joelle Tuerlinckx’s Wor(l)d(k) in Progress? at Arnolfini (2013) (developed in collaboration with Wiels, Brussels, and Haus der Kunst, Munich). Major commissions he worked on in 2015 include John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea for the 56th Venice Biennale (Associate Producer) and New York City Apartment / Bristol by Do Ho Suh for the Art Fund International collection.