MACP alumnus, Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi and Curatorial Assistant at the Hammer Museum, featured on
"10 YOUNG CURATORS FOR 2017"
by Cultured Magazine
"Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi: Curatorial Assistant, Hammer Museum
How did working at the Kitchen change your practice? The Kitchen got me thinking about the legacy of a space and institution, and how one’s programming has to work to reinvent that history while honoring it.
You have a background in psychology, how does that play into your job now? One of the more widely discussed connections between psychology and curating is in the studio visit. Artists and curators alike have quipped about how my work as a mental health therapist likely figures into how I approach conversations with artists. The ability to listen, ask open-ended and reflexive questions and dip into motivational interviewing questions to mine ambivalence. I think it’s something all curators engage in well, I just have targeted training where the end goal is alleviating psychological distress and/or psychopathology. However, who’s to say that an artist wrestling with their practice or the demands of the art world isn’t subject to some level of distress? Mark Lombardi’s tragic end comes to mind.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment to date? Pulling off my thesis show, “Sexual Fragments Absent” at Paddles, a BDSM sex club in Chelsea. The exhibition was one year in the making so it’s the longest I’ve been engaged in an idea. I worked closely with Adrienne Edwards at Performa on the project. In a way, we took on her practices towards the biennial structure of Performa—this sustained process where dialogue with artists and research inflicts the project over time.
What are you working toward? There are some loose ideas and some studio visits I hope to make out here in Los Angeles, but I’ve just started at the Hammer Museum, so I’m mostly focusing on getting adjusted..."