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Justine Ludwig is one of three curators for PRELUDE: A Preview of Aurora 2017 – Powered by Reliant, representing Dallas alongside DooEun Choi of New York and Nadim Samman of Berlin. We got to pick her creative brain about Dallas, her “esoteric fascinations,” and what we can expect at PRELUDE in October.

From Bani Abidi: An Unforeseen Situation. Photography by Kevin Todora. Courtesy of Dallas Contemporary

Since the AT&T Performing Arts Center isn’t a traditional gallery space, does curating for PRELUDE present any unique challenges?

In PRELUDE the art being presented interacts with the city around it. Viewership is less controlled than it is in a white cube space, allowing for a greater ambiguity of meaning. I find this context to be particularly compelling. It is an opportunity to connect with new audiences and open up the artist’s work to new interpretations.

Since arriving in Dallas in 2014, you’ve curated a variety of exhibitions by international women artists such as Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Bani Abidi and Paola Pivi. Can you tell us about any similar projects coming our way?

Aside from my plans for PRELUDE and Aurora, I am currently working on a group exhibition that will open in October in New York and a solo show at Dallas Contemporary with artist Pia Camil next year.

In the exhibition Hiding in Plain Sight, at Sapar Contemporary, artists use the technique of camouflage as to obscure a message. They co-opt a diversity of visual languages in order to send subversive information. Content is hidden in the banal, exploring how deeper investment can lead to greater understanding. It features work of five international artists who all take a different approach to this subject matter: Carlos Amorales, Faiza Butt, Parastou Forouhar, Tsang Kin-Wah, and K. Yoland.

Last year, I curated an exhibition of Pia Camil’s work at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. For that exhibition she created a new body of work in which she merged the aesthetics of commerce with that of Frank Stella’s iconic Copper Paintings. Camil’s upcoming exhibition at Dallas Contemporary will present the range of her practice including colorful curtains inspired by billboards and urban detritus in her home city, Mexico City.

From Anila Quayyum Agha: Intersections. Photography by Kevin Todora. Courtesy of Dallas Contemporary and ArtPrize Dallas

How would you describe your personal curatorial practice?

I work very closely with artists to realize ambitious new projects. I believe art can function as a liminal space where one can address challenging subject matter. In my projects I aim to tap into this unique dynamic. My research interests include memory, new media, architecture, economics, and the aesthetics of globalization. I’ve always had esoteric fascinations and I find opportunities to embrace this in my curatorial practice.

What sets Dallas art apart?

Texan spirit paired with international awareness and taste.

What perspective do you offer the curation of PRELUDE as a Dallas resident that an out-of-towner might not?

I know the audience for the project personally. I often explore the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the grounds surrounding it. I just had the pleasure of seeing one of my heroes, Werner Herzog, speak there last week. It is a site of emotional and communal resonance for me.

What are you looking forward to most at PRELUDE?

I am looking forward to curating a project that directly interacts with the city of Dallas and speaks to a different audience. It is great to have an opportunity to try things out and get used to the setting in advance of Aurora next year.

What are your personal hopes for the future of Aurora?

I hope that Aurora becomes more ambitious and that it runs over a few nights every other year. I see it as a platform to support a dialogue between local and international. I would like it to challenge artists with the opportunity to explore new media and take on public works projects for the first time.

Why is an event like Aurora important for a city like Dallas?

Events like Aurora bring the arts to new audiences—leading to the cultivation of new, impassioned patrons. It’s an opportunity to showcase groundbreaking national and international art in concert with the exciting work that is happening here in Dallas.

From Paola Pivi’s exhibition ‘Ma’am,’ curated by Justine Ludwig. Photography by Kevin Todora, courtesy of Dallas Contemporary.

Justine is the Director of Exhibitions/Senior Curator at Dallas Contemporary and her experience also includes the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Rose Art Museum, the Colby College Museum of Art, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Bernard Toale Gallery, and the MIT List Visual Arts Center. She has an MA in Global Arts from Goldsmiths University of London and a BA in Art with a concentration in Art History from Colby College.

PRELUDE will take place over two nights, Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22, 2016, and will transforming the AT&T Performing Arts Center campus and the Meyerson Symphony Center with light, video and sound-based, immersive arts installations.

PRELUDE is free to the public but you can RSVP here. Discover more at DallasAurora.com.

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