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Crunch Festival: Hans-Ulrich Obrist

Hay-On-Wye's art, culture, film and literature festival boasts appearances from artist Bob & Roberta Smith, musicians British Sea Power and Obrist, the co-director of Hyde Park's Serpentine Gallery

The Crunch Festival 2011, a series of lectures, conversations and events surrounding art, culture, film and literature, is held annually in the small English town of Hay-On-Wye. It is one of the leading festivals of its kind and draws a number of speakers from all over the world to the area, which is known internationally for its numerous classic and rare book shops.

This year highlights of the festival include live sessions from British Sea Power, Bobby Gandolf and Franz Nicolay and numerous speakers such as artist Bob & Roberta Smith, novelist Mark Haddon and curators Julian Stallabrass, who will be discussing the influence of Banksy's guerilla techniques, and Serpentine Gallery Director of International Exhibitions, Hans-Ulrich Obrist. Dazed Digital caught up with Hans-Ulrich ahead of his involvement in the festival to discuss his forthcoming conversations.

Dazed Digital: What is the theme of the lecture that you will be giving at the festival?
Hans Ulrich-Obrist:
The lecture is about curating and the idea that the term curating is now more widely used outside of the artworld. It is now used as in a variety of different contexts, even conferences are being curated, the Director of TED, for example, has now become the Curator of TED. When I started to be involved in the artworld, the term was quite specific, it seemed as precise as a medical term, for example. Now it is unbelievably widespread and that is very fascinating to me. 

DD: Why do you think the term has been developed into our social language?
Hans Ulrich-Obrist: I think it has a lot to do with our current moment, the explosion of information. Everyone has to find ways through all this information, to navigate, to choose and to select. I suppose that in a way this sense of curating has become a part of everyday life.

DD: You are also in conversation with Susan Hiller during the festival. Is that also a discussion of curating?
Hans Ulrich-Obrist: That is very separate, it is really going to be about Susan's groundbreaking and visionary art practice. It is about her, her trajectory and her work. There may be one or two questions about curating as Susan has curated one exhibition about dreams, which was incredibly beautiful, but the main body of that conversation will be about her work.

DD: What is it about her work that you find interesting?
Hans Ulrich-Obrist: She is a great pioneer and her journey really is a journey without compromise. Her retrospective at Tate Britain shows a trajectory that has inspired so many younger artists throughout the world. Her practice is one that connects art to a variety of different of disciplines and she is very much one of the great pioneering artists living in this country.

DD: Do you relate to that connection of disciplines?
Hans Ulrich-Obrist: Yes very much so, she is someone that goes beyond the fear of pooling knowledge. Also, the way that she has experimented, she continues to invent after so many decades, is really ointeresting to me. Her extraordinary artists books, for example, and the way she uses that medium in her work, the involvement of poetry in her work, are all key aspects for me.

DD: In regards to the Hays Crunch Festival, what is it that interested you to get involved?
Hans Ulrich-Obrist: It is a festival that is not only about art but about many other things, it is something that seems to make new junctions and connections between people of different disciplines and of course, for me, that is something very fascinating. Also I think it is interesting to sometimes put yourself in a rather remote context. Once people are there, they are centred in that place and I think that breeds new thoughts and connections. When a festival of this kind is held in a big city, very often people come, they do their speech and they leave. I like the captive aspect of it.  I think in these contexts new sparks can emerge.

Crunch Festival 2011 is at the Globe at Hay, Newport Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5BG, 18-20 November, 2011. More info HERE