art:i:curate network // meet Liza Bel
10 nov 2014 by Nur El Shami
Every week we select people from our platform and get to know them. We spoke to journalist and writer Liza Bel who has a thing for empty museums.
Profession: Journalist, Writer
Secret profession or as a kid I wanted to be: In the very early years of my life, I wanted to sell chewing gum. After the fall of the USSR, all the colorful, juicy Western candy started invading previously lackluster shops. It completely took over my childish imagination. That was just before I started dreaming of becoming a writer.
AIC: How would you describe your own personal aesthetic?
LB: Simple with a hint of drama.
AIC: How would your friends describe your personality?
LB: Emanating contagious happiness is what I’m being told.
AIC: What inspires you?
AIC: Who's your hero?
LB: My grandmother and my mother. Very different women who each had an incredible influence on who I am today. I owe them everything.
AIC: Do you consider yourself a collector? If so, what do you collect?
LB: I haven’t yet acquired a collection extensive enough to be called a collector. I have started building a collection of very dramatic rings from around the world that I will continue throughout my life. When I’m settled, I will start collecting contemporary art from Africa.
AIC: What's your most precious possession?
LB: My memories. I’m not materialistic at all but if I had to choose an object it would be my grandmother’s vintage comb.
AIC: What does the term 'curating' mean to you?
LB: It’s organised chaos. Creative process of an artist is rarely a structured, streamlined process. A curator brings form to the products of creative minds.
AIC: If you could curate an exhibition, what would it be about?
LB: I recently travelled to Goma, a city in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I discovered how much the local culture was close to where I come from. Many people are surprised when I tell them that. I would want to curate an exhibition around unexpected and improbable cultural encounters. Human beings connect on such an unconscious level beyond culture, tradition and prejudice, I would want to explore this through art.
AIC: How did you discover art:i:curate?
LB: Through Ligne Roset.
AIC: Favourite art:i:curate artist(s).
AIC: How do you usually experience art?
LB: Alone and on a very personal, deep and intense level. I love going to exhibitions on my own. I had a visit around the Wallace Collection out of hours, when it was absolutely empty. It was my best museum visit ever.
AIC: Tell me something about yourself - anything.
LB: In Maya Angelou’s obituary, the journalist Gary Younge recalls his encounter with the 74-year old author:
"When I asked her how she dealt with people's response to old age, she recited the final verse of her poem, On Aging:
I'm the same person I was back then
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot less lungs and much less wind.
But ain't I lucky I can still breathe in.
And then the laughing would start again. As her car pulled away after dropping me off at the hotel, she put her head out of the window, waved, and shouted like a teenage girl: “That's swanky!” She was 74 and high on life.”
When I read this, I realised I wanted to be that woman at the age of 74: high on life, enjoying it with the same zest one would suck a juicy pork rib to the very bone.