Tenzing Barshee

Installation view, Shimabuku, Flying Me, curated by Fabrice Strou & Tenzing Barshee, Kunsthalle Bern, 2014

The curator and writer Tenzing Barshee (*1983) received a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Curating at the Zurich University of the Arts.  Between 2010-2011 Tenzing Barshee founded and ran the non-profit exhibition space Everest, where he organized projects. In 2011, he co-founded the event and exhibition venue Elaine for the Museum of Contemporary Art Basel. Between 2012 and 2014, he first worked as an assistant and later as an associate curator at Kunsthalle Bern. Afterwards he has been curating several solo and group shows, including Kunsthalle Bern, Triangle France in Marseille, the Centre d’Art Contemporain GenèveKünstlerhaus Bremen and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (FSRR) in Torino. In September 2016, he started a three-months long curatorial fellowship at Belvedere/21er Haus in Vienna.

He explains why there is a need for an art market.

Installation view, Tina, an exhibition curated by Rita Vitorelli, Christian Kobald and Tenzing Barshee for Spike Berlin, 2015

SAA: What fosters art?

TB: Healthy institutions and a healthy criticism towards the authority of these institutions may foster art. But it’s the critical exchange between everyone involved that can manage to propel it.

SAA: Who is supporting you?

TB: I mostly feel supported by the exchange with the many collaborators I’ve had the chance to work with in the past. Particularly, I’m grateful for the ongoing conversations with artists like Heike-Karin Föll, Ariane Müller or Kirsten Pieroth.

SAA: Does financial support expand creativity?
TB: I don’t really want to know what expands creativity. But I would like to quote the artist and writer David Wojnarowicz: “Transition is always a relief. Destination means death to me. If I could figure out a way to remain forever in  transition, in the disconnected and unfamiliar, I could remain in a state of perpetual freedom.” I quote Wojnarowicz because money can enable and inhibit this freedom, it’s the culture that makes us use it in either way.

Installation view, Shirana Shahbazi, MONSTERA, curated by Fabrice Stroun & Tenzing Barshee, Kunsthalle Bern, 2014

SAA: Must art be sellable?

TB: I hope art does not have to be anything. But I think that in our capitalist society, it’s important that there is a market for art, which allows artists to build an existence based on the merit of their work. In reality, the disparity and inequality of those who make it in these markets, is tremendously troubling, because it singles out the great diversity of voices that are out there. I’m not going to speculate here on the “what ifs”. So my answer is based on the fact that we do live in a capitalist society.

SAA: Should art belong to the private or public and why?

TB: Both. Because it’s equally exciting.