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Kettle’s Yard and the History of Art Faculty have sponsored third year Art Historian Iman Khakoo to spend a month in Venice with the British Council’s Research-Stewarding Fellowship

last modified Sep 02, 2019 12:44 PM
Kettle’s Yard’s Learning and Engagement Assistant Imogen Phillips caught up with Iman half way through her time in Venice.

What have been the highlights of your time so far?
I’ve just been relishing the opportunity to live in this beautiful city! Thanks to people I have met along the way, I have been able to explore the city as a local and discover my favourite hidden spots. I also feel so lucky to be part of such an inspiring and warm group of Fellows. Whilst I am pursuing academia, most of the other Fellows have distinct artistic practices like photography and painting, and I have had the chance to see the city from their perspectives as well – whether it be through the lens of a camera or leaves of a sketchbook. We have also been doing collaborative zines, which has provided a fun and creative outlet to almost diarise our time here so far.

 

How have you found stewarding the British Pavilion?
Stewarding has been really insightful. I’ve never invigilated before, so it’s interesting to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve also had the opportunity to do this in other pavilions as well, for example, I recently got the chance to partake as a performer in the Sun & Sea (Marina) at the Lithuanian Pavilion, an unnerving opera set against a make-believe beach. It has also made me become increasingly aware of public opinion, and how much value it adds to a work of art, especially considering the number of conversations I have had about Cathy Wilkes’ work and how these have all come to shape my own opinion of the exhibition.


What have you been learning so far?
I’m learning that it’s okay to be less independent sometimes. Being at university often guides you to do your own thing, focus on your independent research, but this Fellowship has been a timely reminder that research is part of a constellation of approaches, and exists amongst other networks of thinking. I’ve been learning that research isn’t just holing yourself up in the library! Instead I’ve been going out, seeing exhibitions, even sketching a bit, and rediscovering why I love art, which has been really refreshing.

 

Can you tell me about your research project?
I initially came to Venice with the intention of researching the colonial origins of the Biennale and the ways in which artists and nations are carving out spaces which challenge the World Fair’s national representation system. On the back of this, I am keen to research more about Arab Futurisms, which I have noticed as a trend in this year’s Biennale, after being enthralled by Larissa Sansour’s video work presented at the Danish Pavilion, which I seem to keep coming back to visit during my breaks at work.  

 

What are you looking forward to for your last fortnight?
Making the most of being here with new friends; I want to explore some of the other islands around Venice, go to the beach, and visit more of the collateral events to build upon my research. Whilst there have been some challenges with stewarding a more conceptual exhibition, it’s been enlightening to see just how open contemporary art can be. Also, being part of the conversations which form contemporary art today – by meeting curators, performers and stewards from other pavilions after work. I’m excited about more of that. 

 

Art Historian Iman Khakoo and Circuit member Clarisse in Venice with the British Council Fellowship

Art Historian Iman Khakoo and Circuit member Clarisse in Venice with the British Council Fellowship

Circuit member Clarisse Rangel Pamplona Learning and Engagement Assistant Imogen Phillips and Art History student Iman Khakoo in Venice with the British Council Fell

Circuit member Clarisse Rangel Pamplona Learning and Engagement Assistant Imogen Phillips and Art History student Iman Khakoo in Venice with the British Council Fellowship