Founded by BooksIIII Bischof in 2007 and structured with the help of partners Typoe and Cristina Gonzalez since inception, PRIMARY (Primary Projects / Primary Flight), a contemporary curatorial collective, have initiated numerous acclaimed gallery exhibitions and mural projects throughout Miami. Expanding to Chicago last year for a major curatorial project, the team, headed by BooksIIII Bischof shows no signs of slowing down. We catch up with BooksIIII to gain some insight in to the person, the projects and the possibilities.
Claire Breukel: You are a man that wear’s many hats including being an artist, founder of Primary Flight, Primary Projects and a curator. What part of working with the arts is your favorite?
BooksIIII Bischof: I recently learned of a Walt Disney quote that helps describe our standing, “I do not like to repeat success, I like to go on to other things.” I love how vast the art world is. I love how each project can be so significantly different. In physical training it could be compared to muscle confusion. This abrupt shifting builds strength. There is nothing mundane about our day to day and that in itself is a blessing. At this very moment, we are extra excited about contemporary curatorial. We have always assembled our projects in a way that makes us happy, measuring our own success, curating in a way that weighs heavier on our private relationships and personal voices yet always keeping an academic quality within our scope. It excites us to learn that there are fantastic groups of curators out there that share this same drive. Between our colleagues and our artists, we have every reason to get up in the morning and hustle.
CB: You recently curated a major art project in the Fashion Outlets of Chicago with the Arts Initiative. How would you describe the paradigm of artists making works on site in the mall?
BB: In some cases, I can see how this project in the wrong hands might have skewed off path. Arthur Weiner, founder of The Arts Initiative, understood that we as curators needed creative freedom to develop this project together. His ability to relate to this need practically guaranteed success. We at PRIMARY never allow room for the suffering of artistic integrity this created an environment ripe for the artists to develop their installations. In turn we have 12 major public works invading the psyche, acting as landmarks, inspiring the life of the visitor. There is something exciting about this, much more than in a traditional gallery setting or an institution, public art in unexpected places. In a lot of ways this is our ultimate high, we find the purest satisfaction and the greatest success when a project as such is genuinely done with the people in mind on a platform best suited for the artist.
CB: What was your mission with the mural project “Words Travel Fast” that is featured across the walls of buildings in Downtown in collaboration with Miami Worldcenter?
BB: Platforms will always need to be provided. Voices will always need to be heard. Alternatives to the norm create a cleaner more pleasurable oxygen to breath. Originally, Primary Flight was graffiti and street art, it had to shift to something new. You could look at it like “Pictures are worth a thousand words” or “choose your words carefully.” We love all aspects of contemporary art and are inspired by everything around us, but in this specific case we found salvation in works created by artists like Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha, and Jenny Holzer. That’s why we wanted to assemble a text-based project of our own. There is something powerful in a carefully chosen message and we wanted to assemble a public program that embraced such a mantra.
CB: The nature of Primary‘s many projects is often collaborative, however you also feature many solo exhibitions by international artists at the gallery. How do you choose these artists as well as the projects you take on as a group?
BB: From the projects we develop to the artists we work with, each and every one is relationship based. We very rarely accept proposals and prefer all our projects to come to fruition organically, through a friend of a friend of a friend. In some cases a project comes from “thin air” and we can appreciate that, but in most cases success comes from surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals whom keep each others best interests a priority. This in mind drives our decision making, alongside some very important advice from Typoe, “If you have a doubt, get out.”
CB: If you could invite one artist contemporary or past to collaborate on a project who would it be and why?
BB: This is an impossible question—choosing one artist is entirely unfair, as is life. I have had a dream for years where we are curating an exhibit of Duane Hanson and Barry Mcgee’s sculptures into a single environment. There are few things in this world I would want more than to see those works interact. Mark my words, this exhibit will happen one day. Either we will have the divine opportunity to assemble such a project, or at the very least, be lucky enough to attend the opening.