13. Tina Kukielski, independent curator, New York
No less a critic than the New Yorker‘s Peter Schjeldahl called the 2013 iteration of the Carnegie International “strikingly thoughtful,” and Tina Kukielski gets part of the credit, having organized the acclaimed show along with Daniel Baumann and Dan Byers. (See World’s Top 20 Biennials, Triennials, and Miscellennials). She also organized shows there with beloved artists working with new technology, like Cory Arcangel and Antoine Catala, who shows with plugged-in New York gallery 47 Canal. She’s now back in New York, with several projects in the works, including a group show this summer at James Cohan Gallery.
14. Alejandra Labastida, MUAC (University Museum of Contemporary Art), México
In 2012, MUAC associate curator Alejandra Labastida snagged the prize in Istanbul’s Akbank Sanat International Curatorial Competition for a Gilles Deleuze-inspired show, “The Life of Others: Repetition and Survival,” featuring artists from François Bucher and Tania Bruguera to Artur Zmijewski. Since setting up shop at MUAC in 2008, she’s organized a number of in-house shows while also helping to organize the Mexican pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, in 2011. And she’s not even finished with a master’s degree in art history and curatorial studies at UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de Mexico).
15. Carol Yinghua Lu, independent curator, Beijing
If you loved Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video The Clock, you probably cheered when it won the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale; the artist partly has Beijing-based independent curator Carol Yinghua Lu to thank, since she served on the jury. With Nancy Adajania (see above) and four others, she co-curated the 2012 Gwangju Biennale; she also co-organized the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale in 2012, including art stars like Wang Jianwei, Lee Mingwei, and Zhang Xiaogang. Artistic director and chief curator at OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT), Shenzhen, a division of the He Xiangning Art Museum, she co-organized with Liu Ding the show “From the Issue of Art to the Issue of Position: Echoes of Socialist Realism,” which is now on view.
16. Margot Norton, New Museum, New York
Promoted twice since joining the New Museum in 2011, Margot Norton has organized exhibitions including one by Turner Prize-winner Laure Prouvost and the museum solo of Judith Bernstein. She’s been co-curator of an eye-popping litany of exhibitions, from the lauded recent Chris Ofili retrospective (see Chris Ofili’s Glittering, Dung-Encrusted Paintings Return to New York) and the group show “Here and Elsewhere,” devoted to art of the Arab world (see Palestinians and Arabs Hang Tough at the New Museum). The Columbia curatorial MA grad is looking ahead to a survey opening this summer of the late Sarah Charlesworth, who, Brian Wallis wrote in Artforum, “presciently grasped the visual seduction of photographs.”
17. Heather Pesanti, Austin Contemporary
The Contemporary Austin is going big with its first large thematic group exhibition, “Strange Pilgrims,” and they’ve placed it in the hands of Heather Pesanti. Focusing on the “immersive, participatory, collaborative and kinetic” and including artists from Charles Atlas and Trisha Baga to Bruce Nauman and Yoko Ono, it opens in September. While at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York, Pesanti organized the well-received historical survey “Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-Garde in the 1970s.”
18. Susanne Pfeffer, Kunsthaus Fridericianum, Kassel
In what’s being called the Post-Internet era, in which images circulate endlessly and authorship is said to be irrelevant, Pfeffer’s 2013-14 show “Speculations on Anonymous Materials” brought together young artists like Alisa Baremboym, Oliver Laric, and Timur Si-Qin. While curator at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Pfeffer conceived the 2008-09 Hotel Marienbad program, in which artists like Douglas Gordon had a residency in what resembled a hotel room. She’s organized solo shows of figures as varied as outsider artist Joe Coleman (whom no less than Charles Manson called “a caveman in a spaceship”), experimental filmmaker Lutz Mommartz (a film of his was included in the MoMA Polke retrospective), and sculptor Richard Serra. Pfeffer will work with artist Pamela Rosenkranz on the Swiss pavilion at the Venice Biennale, opening this summer (see The 2015 Venice Biennale List of Artists Is Out–See Our Exclusive).
19. Sara Raza, independent curator, London
The Guggenheim Museum is investing big in widening the global reach of its collection, with initiatives in Asia and Latin America as well as the Middle East and North Africa, which is where Sara Raza comes in as the newest two-year curatorial resident. We’ll see her picks at a 2016 show. As for what those might be, we note that she worked with artists including Adel Abidin, Wafaa Bilal and Mohammed Kazem at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah when she was adjunct associate curator there; for the 2014 Venice Biennale, she co-curated a show of Saudi Arabian artists at the Venice Biennale, including Heba Abed, Basmah Felemban, and Saeed Salem.
20. Chen Tamir, Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv
The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, calling for cultural boycott of Israeli institutions, has generated copious debate, and CCA Tel Aviv curator Chen Tamir has contributed a report on the phenomenon, published recently by Hyperallergic (see The Cultural Boycott of Israel Isn’t Solidarity, It’s Condescension and Artists for Palestine UK Respond to JJ Charlesworth’s Criticism of the Cultural Boycott of Israel). Besides her brick-and-mortar shows of artists like Amie Siegel and Tamar Harpaz, she’s also commissioned artworks for viewing on mobile devices on the CCA’s wireless network. If you missed her on a panel at the Armory Show recently, you can catch her in upcoming talks at the Vera List Center in New York or at L.A.’s Otis College.
21. Lumi Tan, The Kitchen, New York
Already a veteran of New York’s Zach Feuer Gallery and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Kitchen associate curator Lumi Tan has organized solo exhibitions of artists ranging from Luke Stettner to Chantal Akerman and produced performances including Danh Vo and Xiu Xiu’s multifarious show “Metal.” Tan is no slouch at the writing desk either, having penned articles for Artforum, Frieze, and The New York Times.
22. Kelly Taxter, Jewish Museum, New York
Before becoming assistant curator at the Jewish Museum in 2013, Kelly Taxter co-ran Taxter & Spengemann Gallery in New York, for eight years, fostering talents like Xavier Cha and Andrew Kuo (see Andrew Kuo and Scott Reeder Opt for Panda Bear Zodiac Sign on Instagram Video). Taxter must have hit the ground running, as she’s already opened “Laurie Simmons: How We See,” the artist’s first New York museum solo, now on view. Besides that, no museumgoer will be able to miss her projects, as she’s overseeing site-specific works in the lobby, with artists like Willem de Rooij, Chantal Joffee and Valeska Soares on tap.
23. Stephanie Weber, Lenbachhaus, Munich
While at MoMA in New York, Stephanie Weber curated a solo show of Mark Boulos and film series of Charles Simonds and Christoph Schlingensief, all the while commissioning performances by Tom Thayer and C. Spencer Yeh and adding to the collection works by Vito Acconci, VALIE EXPORT and Martha Rosler. Since starting at Munich’s Lenbachhaus in September, she’s been hard at work on a retrospective of Polish-born feminist artist Lea Lublin that opens this summer. It includes a thirty-year span of work in various mediums by the Argentine-French artist, who once stole Marcel Duchamp’s mailbox.
24. Michelle White, Menil Collection, Houston
White took up her post at the Menil after honing her skills at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; her endeavors have been as varied as projects with the Houston collective Otabenga Jones & Associates (who aim to “teach the truth to the black youth”) and the Richard Serra drawings retrospective that traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among others, Flash Art and Modern Painters have published her writings.
25. Mika Yoshitake, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
As the Hirshhorn’s assistant curator, Yoshitake oversaw the museum’s installation of the traveling show “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” She earned an AICA-USA award for best show in a commercial gallery nationally for “Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha” (2012) at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, which traveled to Gladstone Gallery in New York, and has contributed to other high-profile shows like the Guggenheim Museum’s Lee Ufan retrospective and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’ exhibition © MURAKAMI.