Nicola Lees has been appointed the new Curator of Frieze Foundation, responsible for the unique programme of artist commissions, which takes place annually at Frieze London. Lees will also take up a position on the judging panel of the Emdash Award 2013, giving an emerging international artist the opportunity to participate in the Frieze Projects programme. Frieze Projects and the Emdash Award are supported by the Emdash Foundation.
Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, Co-Directors of Frieze commented: ‘Nicola’s understanding of the busy, complex fair environment and the role of Frieze Projects in differentiating that space made her the right choice for the role of Curator. Her innovative programming to date has provided a crucial London platform for challenging works by both established and emerging artists. We look forward to her further elevating the profile of the Projects with commissions that engage, excite, provoke new thinking and have a strong presence within the fair.’
Lees added, ‘I am delighted to be working with an organisation which actively supports innovative new commissions. I intend to bring an integrated approach to the commissioning process and by cultivating a dialogue with other art forms, including film and educational practices, I look forward to developing collaborative projects on a local, national and international scale.’
For the past five years Nicola Lees has worked as Senior Curator of Public Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery, London, where she oversaw interdisciplinary, time-based and performance projects. Programmes included the annual Park Nights series of site-specific commissions, for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, including artists: Becky Beasley, Oscar Murillo, James Richards and Alexandre Singh. Lees encouraged participants to take a cross-disciplinary approach, resulting in works such as Helen Marten’s first film, Dust and Piranhas (2011) and Michael Dean’s first piece of theatre, Acts of Grass (2011).
From 2008 Lees co-curated the Serpentine Gallery Marathon; working closely with Hans Ulrich Obrist to programme a series of two-day, interdisciplinary events that bring together world-renowned and emerging practitioners across all fields, from the arts to the sciences. In 2009, Lees initiated the Serpentine Cinema series (programmed with Victoria Brooks, Curator, EMPAC). With screenings of new work, rare archival footage and work-in-progress, the series intended to support artists’ filmmaking in a cinema context. Participants have included: Dara Birnbaum; Declan Clarke; Owen Land; Rivane Neuenschwander; Lili Reynaud-Dewar; Wael Shawky; Corin Sworn with Guy de Cointet; and Javier Téllez.
Throughout her work Lees is committed to the research and development of education strategies, which has culminated in a number of conferences including ‘Deschooling Society’ produced in collaboration with the Hayward Gallery (with Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennale; and Janna Graham).
Lees takes over the role from Sarah McCrory, who held the position from 2009–2012 and is now Director of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. The position was also previously held by Neville Wakefield (2006-2008) and Polly Staple (2003–2006).