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MIT's Goncharov to be US curator at Venice Biennale

Kathleen Goncharov, the curator for public art at MIT's List Visual Arts Center , harbors a private passion for 15th-century Italian painting--the perfect candidate to represent the cutting-est cutting edge of the American avant garde at the 2003 Venice Biennale.

Goncharov, a Detroit native, has been designated by the State Department to serve as the commissioner of the U.S. pavilion at the 50th Biennale, arguably the most important event on the international contemporary visual arts calendar.

"I can't imagine anyone more worthy of this appointment than Kathy. She has a deep knowledge of and impeccable taste in contemporary art. Her work at MIT as Curator of Public Art has brought whole new dimensions to MIT. Her work on the Biennale demonstrates her commitment to making the best in American contemporary art available to the world at large," said Alan Brody, Associate Provost for the Arts at MIT.

Thousands of the world's most influential artists, curators, critics and collectors visit the exhibition, which opens June 14, 2003 and extends through November.

Goncharov, 50, is the sole curator for the American presentation. She was selected based on her proposal to present the work of Fred Wilson, a New York-based installation artist and sculptor known for exploring issues of race, ethnicity and ideologies of art and value in site-specific work.

"Fred's objects and installations animate history in provocative ways and give it new meanings. It is important at this difficult time that an artist like Fred make work that encourages people to come up with new ways of thinking about themselves, others and their histories," Goncharov said.

For his Biennale exhibition, Wilson will create a new piece out of artifacts and objects loaned to the U.S. pavilion, Goncharov said.

"This will be the first time an artist representing the U.S. will work so closely with the Venetian community," she noted.

Goncharov worked with Wilson in 1992, when she served as U.S. commissioner at the fourth International Cairo Biennale. She was curator for his installation "Re:Claiming Egypt," an exploration of Egypt's colonial history and its importance to African-Americans.

In 1993, Wilson won Best Exhibition of the Year for his installation titled "Mining the Museum," which displayed devices of slavery such as iron shackles alongside slave-holders' prized possessions such as sterling silver on a formal dining table.

Wilson was awarded a MacArthur "genius" grant in 1999. His work is now on view at the Children's Museum in Manhattan and at a retrospective show at Skidmore College.

Goncharov has curated exhibitions at the seventh Triennale in New Delhi, India in 1991 and in Central and Latin America for Arts America in 1987-93.

She came to MIT as public art curator in 2001. She was Curator of the University Art Collection at the New School in New York City (1987 - 2000) and has worked on arts programming for Italian National Television since 1999.

Goncharov received both the B.A. in Fine Art in1974 and the M.A. in History in1975 from Central Michigan University and the M.M.P. degree in museum practice from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1979.

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