Taking a step back and exploring the layers of an artwork is Ralitsa Benkova’s speciality. Her deep curiosity about the artist behind the piece allows her to expose what others may not see at first glance. It is important to her that viewing a work includes the essence of its creator. We are happy to have her as one of the curatorial team of the 54th round of PILOTENKUECHE.
As early as 9th grade Ralitsa knew she wanted to design exhibitions. Her desire to work with artists has only grown with time. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Ralitsa decided to move to Germany to study art history. She has lived in Leipzig for several years, where among other things, she is curator for the Die Zentrale für Kunst (Zfk), a non-profit dedicated to art.
At Zfk, she is part of a group of young creatives that recognised a gap in the exhibition opportunities for emerging artists, especially recent graduates. In order to fill the vacancy they decided to build a collective with the aim of changing the local art landscape. Their first exhibition took place at the Spinnerei Leipzig and was a huge success. Through a process of open calls, workshops, exhibitions and other events, Zfk remains commited to giving aspiring artists the chance to be seen and supported at the beginning of their careers.
Curating according to Ralitsa
For Ralitsa it is absolutely relevant to connect with the artists. She visits them in their studios and experiences how they work. By finding out what they’re driven by, she gets a sense of the artist as a person. She likes to consider all of this and more in her thought process and in later decision making.
“I may not seem like a serious person, but as far as that goes, I’m really serious. I really try to stick to it.” Ralitsa continues to underline that conversations are one of her main sources of inspiration. “For instance, what has been on other people’s minds lately. I talk a lot myself, but I also like to observe and listen to people.”
images by PILOTENKUECHE or supplied by Ralitsa Benkova
Collecting these impressions in the back of her mind, even a seemingly trivial thing like a favorite song, they will often find her again at a different time and shape her way of thinking. “Art is made for people,” she says. “That’s why you can’t neglect the people behind the art. It’s all connected.” Ralitsa goes on, telling about her studies in art history, “They say you don’t have to know the artist.” But that is not the case with curatorial work. There, one has a different awareness towards the individual who created it.
Ralitsa’s dynamic world
Ralitsa gently suggests people to show others respect. “Of course I respect the person, but I also want to respect their work. That’s why it’s crucial to feel the dynamic, especially in group exhibitions.
“Everybody’s like a tiny universe, and of course every artist wants to be exhibited in the best way.”
She compares curating to creating a small new world, where her main concern is that everyone feels comfortable in it. That’s why you can’t just stick to a plan, she explains. In conversation with Ralitsa, I learn that the role of a curator means being in contact with the shifting emotions and needs of the artists, as well as the dynamics in between. That’s why Ralitsa sees her role more in guiding than anything else. At PILOTENKUECHE the artistic approaches are all so different because the artists come from all over the world, Ralitsa emphasises with a smile.”It will be a great challenge. And I’m so happy to be here.”
written by Marlene Neumaier
You can keep up with her curatorial practice at the ZFK website. or catch up with her at one of our upcoming shows.
Vernissage 18 Feb 7-10 PM
Open Sun 19, Sat 25, Sun 26 Feb 4-8 PM
Vernissage 18 March 7-10 PM
Open Sun 19 – Wed 22 Mar 4-8 PM