Image courtesy of the ICA San Francisco Photocredit: Ulysses Ortega

Exclusive Interview with ICASF Curator on Eve of New Opening

As noted in an earlier post, San Francisco’s newest art museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco (ICASF), is readying for an October opening, and recently the non-collecting museum announced its latest philanthropic bequest.

Christine Koppes is the curator and director of Curatorial Affairs. In this exclusive interview, she reveals her perspective on her unique role.

Cultural Currents: What special challenges do you face as a curator and director of Curatorial Affairs for “a non-collecting” museum?

Christine Koppes: To me it’s not a challenge but an advantage! Without a collection we have more freedom to present projects we feel passionately about, without having to consider how the project relates to the collection. It also gives us more financial flexibility to support ambitious exhibitions if we don’t need to maintain a collection. But I do recognize the important role a collection can play in an artist’s career, but we can still leverage our position into the artworld to help connect institutions and collectors with our artists.

CC: How will the support from the Bay Area’s tech and venture capital sectors shape the character of ICASF?

Koppes: The more financial support we have will allow us be able to do even more with our program – especially in areas such as education and publications. The biggest impact of our support is keeping the museum free. But where the money comes from doesn’t impact the program – I guess I see it more as the character of the ICA sf will shape our supporters, we want people to get involved who believe in what we’re doing.

CC: As the pandemic recedes, do you expect to see more first-time collectors and adventure-driven viewers?

Koppes: We just launched our version of a membership called the 901 club which has its own series of talks, events and travel for each level. One of the series is about collecting contemporary art – called The Collector Starter Pack – and will feature discussions on what it means to be a meaningful collector and supporter of the arts, whether you’re just starting our collection or have been at it for a while.

CC: The return of the FOG Design and Art fair to San Francisco’s Fort Mason pier last year was of particular interest to ferry riders. How does ICASF hope to appeal to this demographic audience and collectors?

Koppes: We will be opening a group exhibition Resting Our Eyes curated by Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon FOG weekend and plan on hosting events and doing collaborative programming with the fair. We hope people traveling out to the fair will spend some time at ICA SF as that weekend all three inaugural shows will have officially opened.