CLAIRE BREUKEL “THE WAY ARTISTS PUSH US TO THINK OUTSIDE OF OUR COMFORT ZONE IS WHAT DRIVES ME”
Claire Breukel is the Curator for Dacra, where she’s responsible for managing Dacra’s diverse and expansive cultural programming in the Miami Design District.
Her role includes selecting, developing and coordinating unique performances, exhibitions, events and activations in collaboration with emerging and established artists and institutions. Breukel also manages the Craig Robins Collection, a private contemporary art collection, arranging exhibitions showcasing the Collection throughout the year.
Claire, how would you describe your curatorial philosophy?
The way artists push us to think outside of our comfort zone is what drives me: from Buckminster Fuller and Beatriz Cortez's proposals for utopic living spaces, to Zanele Muholi and Barkley Hendricks representation of respective Black identities, to Simón Vega and Cristina Lei Rodriguez's repurposing of materials. My goal is to share perspectives of, and from, the “other” in order to promote mutual understanding. In doing so one invariably has the opportunity to work with a diverse group of artists. That said, I believe it is a curator’s urgent responsibility to question art history and paradigms of showing art, to honestly articulate what makes us uncomfortable, and to proactively diversify opportunities. After all we are not authorities of art collections as the traditional definition of curator suggests, our job is to articulate ideas and instigate questions that hopefully help to trigger a transformation in the art viewer.
What would you say are today's main challenges in the art world (besides COVID-19)?
I don’t believe there is one art “world”, rather many. In the art market centers artists fight for space between content and marketability. Art is being increasingly viewed online (amplified by Covid-19), which will invariably shift focus to work that is graphically and two dimensionally easily consumable, making more complex and sensorial experiences of art less attainable. On the other hand, the change of pace that we are feeling right now may invite more considered research and looking.
Outside of art world centers, artists struggle for inclusion. Having worked in South Africa and Central America, where creativity is so rewarding, many artists face fundamental everyday life challenges. I hope to see platforms using this momentum of increased online presence to expand their reach to include artists in further reaching areas of the world. There has been a lot overlooked within the historical and contemporary canon, and there is a chance now to expand our understanding of creativity.
You are recognized as a creative curator with forward-looking ideas, what are some of your plans in Dacra regarding the present needs for further diversity and inclusion?
The Miami Design District is a unique context that is at its core a creative space for innovative and cutting-edge ideas, attracting an audience of locals and visitors with varied interests from food to fashion. This provides an invaluable opportunity to engage audiences through topical discourse that is brave, questioning and reflective of our diverse community.
The District already has international public art and design works by varied artists, but we can do more… so we are expanding an art project by Dozie Kanu and in discussion with the For Freedoms project, Miami Dade Art in Public Places, Creative Minds Talks, among others. From the neighborhood’s beginnings in early 2000, Craig Robins supported the Miami art community. The cultural program continues this support, and today features four Latin American sculptors at Piero Atchugarry Gallery’s Takeover exhibition, multimedia creatives at Place Miami Preview Edition, a conceptual project by Tom Scicluna, artist Pepe Mar in studio, and the Peréz Art Museum Miami’s gift shop pop-up while they await the museums reopening in September…with more to come. Additionally, Craig Robins Collection frequently loans artwork to museums internationally, and we have recently extended loans of works by Ella Kruglyanskaya, Kai Althoff, Senga Nengudi and Tshabalala Self.
We have been speaking with key community leaders to ensure our program is increasingly meaningful, impactful and aware of what needs to be done. I have learned that proactive and continued dialogue with varied constituents is essential work for a well-informed program. We all have work to do!
Prior to joining Dacra in 2020, Breukel worked as Executive Director and Curator for the Robert S. Wennett and Mario Cader-Frech Foundation, establishing the art program Y.ES Contemporary. In 2018, Breukel co-produced the (RED) Auction curated by Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye. In 2013, she co-produced the (RED) Design Auction at Sotheby’s New York curated by Jony Ive and Marc Newson. In 2012, Breukel helped establish and operate the public art program Unscripted for Bal Harbour Village bringing notable artists and creative speakers to Miami. Between 2010-2012 she worked as Art Advisor for the Miami Downtown Development Authority, and from 2008 to 2010, Breukel served as the curator for PUMA and worked on arts sponsorships and partnerships.
Breukel moved to Miami in 2003 to work with the Rubell Family Collection and served as the first Executive Director of Locust Projects. During the course of her career Breukel curated exhibitions in Cape Town, Vienna, Prague, New York, Miami and El Salvador. She has written for Harvard’s Revista, Whitewall, Arte al Día, Eikon, ArtPulse, Women’s Review, and Hyperallergic.com among other titles.
ABOUT MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT:
The Miami Design District is a one-of-a-kind neighborhood that combines luxury shopping, galleries, museums, design stores, restaurants and major art and design installations all within an architecturally significant context. The neighborhood houses some of the best architecture in the country, right down to the award-winning Museum Garage. Visitors can shop design showrooms, visit cultural institutions like the ICA Miami, the de la Cruz Collection and Locust Projects, or check out the rigorously curated public art program woven throughout the streets. All in all, the District has something for everyone. As Miami becomes increasingly known for its own rich culture, the growth of the Miami Design District further reflects how the city is deserving of its place on the global stage.
The Miami Design District is owned and operated by Miami Design District Associates, a partnership between Dacra and L Catterton Real Estate, a global real estate development and investment fund.
*cover photo by Michaela Roztomia Doušová