Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Every curator's nightmare?

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, August 29. 2006 • Category: Musings
Perhaps it is every curator's nightmare - the gallery closes your show less than 24 hours after it opens.

The Gene Culture exhibition at Egg Space Gallery in Liverpool opened on August 9. The show is part of a broader research project by curator Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney, analysing perceptions of genetics in postmodern society. The Gene Culture exhibition contained a range of work in a variety of media, from photographs to animal parts. The show was closed down because of apparent concerns over a vegetarian restaurant being in the same building as the gallery (in case the animal parts escape?), and a skirmish over a performance at the opening event.

Ms Sweeney, a performance artist and graduate of Liverpool John Moores University, said she was disappointed with the decision.

"We had selected 10 international artists from 250 submissions and the standard of art was very high."

Artist Carrie Reichardt had her performance art piece, Pinky and Perky, banned on opening night. She was due to have worn pigs' heads in place of a bra.

Read the news article here.

Of course, this could be viewed as a blessing or a curse. The show will possibly live on and travel to other locations, and if the truism "there's no such thing as bad press" is to be believed, then one could conclude it's hard to buy the kind of press that a show being censored brings on.

The overreaction on the part of the controlling interests in the Gene Cultures case reminds me of the case from a few years ago of the Terminal 5 exhibition, curated by Rachel K. Ward, that also barely got past the vernissage.

Once again, nervous figures of authority (in this case, a sponsor of the exhibition, Jet Blue Airlines) objected to a work by Vanessa Beecroft featuring nearly naked black women with chains around their feet. Obviously a striking image, and a political statement that the sponsors balked at. Once again, an opening night party went terribly awry, this time simply because of raucous behaviour, resulting in puddles of puke and vandalised walls in the pristine terminal by Eero Saarinen at JFK airport. This was about as much as the New York Port Authority could take, and so they shut the show down. (You can read more about the show and its closure here).

However, Ms Ward is obviously a very smart cookie, and after working very hard to produce what appears to be a very interesting and tight exhibition, she managed to still generate press (and perhaps the show became even more "hooky" after being shut down by the Port Authority) and also seems to have spun off the exhibition into a derivative show, Terminal 5: Now Closed, in Paris.

I'm interested to see how Ms Sweeney makes lemonade out of the lemon of a situation she is currently in.

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Article: On an artist as a one-time curator

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, August 28. 2006 • Category: Musings
From "(Not) Gay Art Now" Curator Jack Pierson Comments on His (Exceptional) Show" by Bryant Rousseau, on

What advantages might an artist have in assembling a show over a more traditional curator?

"I wasn't interested, and I don't think most artists would be, in making a checklist of artists to include six months in advance. I'm in awe of curators who can put three works next to each and create these incredible associations, but a lot of the best work in this show got included at the last minute. I think you gain a lot by spontaneity, by artists just trusting their subliminal instincts, by building a show's aesthetic on the fly."

Would he curate again?

"I love curating, and I'd do it professionally if I could make a living at it."�

And how does spending time in a curatorial role impact his own art making? "It gets me more free, more charged up to try a little of everything," said Pierson.

"Building a show's aesthetic on the fly" strikes me as an interesting sentiment. While this particular artist/curator incorporates spontaneity into his process through the selection of works, I think most curators could and do achieve this with a combination of exhibition design and creative installation of the works themselves. Focusing on a "checklist of artists" as the only creative act seems to radically diminish the role of curator, which of course includes tasks ranging from mind-numbingly banal to incredibly fun.

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Job: Rhizome Curatorial Fellow

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, August 24. 2006 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities is a leading new media arts organization and an affiliate of the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Currently celebrating our tenth anniversary, Rhizome's programs support the creation, presentation, discussion and preservation of contemporary art that uses new technologies in significant ways. These include a series of online publications and discussion lists, exhibitions (online & offline), performances, screenings, public talks and events, the ArtBase archive, artists' commissions, and other educational programs. For more information about Rhizome, visit:

Rhizome seeks a Curatorial Fellow to assist with the research, planning, and production of exhibitions and public programs, as well as writing and editing content for Rhizome's website and publications. This position is a unique opportunity for a person interested in pursuing a career in the new media arts field to further their engagement with the community and hone their professional skills, while contributing to the programming of one of its leading organizations.

The Curatorial Fellow must be based in New York and must be able to commit to 15 hours of work per week, for an academic year, beginning in September 2006 and ending in the summer of 2007. These hours may include occasional evening and weekend events. This position is unpaid, but academic credit may be arranged.

Reporting directly to Rhizome's Editor & Curator, the Curatorial Fellow will work on all phases of the exhibition and editorial processes, including researching new projects, writing copy, and assisting with the implementation of current programs. The Curatorial Fellow will also develop crucial experience in development and communications. The Fellow's primary responsibilities may include:

- Becoming a Site Editor and assisting with the management of reBlog content
- Writing and editing occasional Rhizome News articles and other texts
- Researching editorial ideas and writers
- Liaising with artists, public program participants, and venues
- Assisting in the promotion of events
- Co-coordinating the Rhizome ArtBase, including researching art works
- Planning, production, and on-site coordination of public events

As the Curatorial Fellow advances, there may be opportunities to curate an exhibition or event, and to write feature articles. In general, the Fellow will play a crucial role in helping to strategize and execute strong, dynamic programs and editorial content.

Candidates should have a level of familiarity with new media and its histories and discourses. They should also possess or expect to complete a Master's degree by 2007. At least one year of arts administration experience is required and preference will be given to candidates with prior curatorial and/or editorial experience. At a minimum, the candidate should have very strong writing, editing, and analytical skills, and very high internet literacy. Knowledge of Microsoft Office software is also required and basic Photoshop skills are preferred.

Please email a cover letter, resume or c.v., three references, and three writing samples (url's or attachments) to Marisa Olson at marisa(at) Review of applications will begin immediately and all materials must be submitted by Wednesday, September 13 for consideration. Deadline extended: Wednesday, September 20.

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Job: Curator at University of California, San Diego

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, August 24. 2006 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
The University of California, San Diego is seeking a curator
Salary hiring range: high $40k to low $50k (USD)

The University of California, San Diego is seeking a curator to administer all aspects of its University Art Gallery contemporary program. Reporting to the Director, University Art Gallery, and in coordination with a Gallery Council of assigned faculty advisors and an Administrator, the Curator is responsible for advancing the mission of the Gallery by implementing programming policy; executing the entire sequence of curatorial functions related to exhibitions; advising the Director regarding Gallery management functions; providing supervision of Gallery staff, and participating in associated communications and development activities. The mission of the University Art Gallery is to integrate contemporary art into the life of the university; exhibit and interpret art as an educational resource for the academic community; serve as a laboratory for linking visual art with the issues of postmodern society, as an innovator in originating and shaping the contemporary arts agenda, and as a platform for the advancement and outreach of the university in visual arts creativity. For additional information, please see and

Applications are requested by October 1, 2006 although the position will remain open until filled. Applicants must submit current curriculum vitae, portfolio and sample catalogues of projects/exhibitions, a curator’s statement, and four (4) professional references.

Please send applications to:

Heath Fox
Assistant Dean, Arts and Humanities
University of California, San Diego
Division of Arts and Humanities 0406
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California 92093-0406

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Article on Dianne Vanderlip

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, August 23. 2006 • Category: News
Curator Dianne Vanderlip is featured in this Denver Post story.

Vanderlip has brought more than 7,000 works to Denver on an acquisitions budget of exactly zero. It's something nobody mentioned when she was hired.

"I was in Philadelphia and Denver kept calling and calling," she recalled. She'd never been to the city, but her husband, an architect, had a meeting in Fargo, N.D., and, thinking it was nearby, she decided to fly here to check out the job.

"I got out of the taxi and I saw that building," she said of the daring Geo Ponti-designed art museum, "and I thought to myself, 'Anybody that had the chutzpah to put up a building like that, well, I wanted to build a contemporary art collection for that city."'

Only after she took the job did she think to ask about the acquisitions budget. "You have to raise it," they said.

(via Artkrush)
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Job: Curator at the Barbican

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, August 5. 2006 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
Curator, c. �34,000

Barbican Art Gallery is a leading British venue for the presentation of modern and contemporary art, photography, architecture and design exhibitions. Part of the Barbican Centre, Europe's largest arts venue, the Gallery's activities take place in the context of a widely acclaimed programme of international music, dance, theatre, visual arts and cinema.

We are looking for a creative and dynamic individual to join our team and help us deliver our world-class exhibition programme. You will contribute imaginative and innovative ideas to the Gallery's programming discussions; you will have a flair for devising authoritative exhibitions which also appeal to wide audiences; and you will work to build the Gallery's relationships with artists and institutions in Britain and abroad.

We are looking for a curator with a thorough knowledge of 20th and 21st century art and with a strong international network. You will be able to demonstrate experience in curating loan-based exhibitions, in commissioning and editing publications, and in leading teams to deliver complex projects. An interest in cross-arts programming would be a bonus, given the Gallery's setting within an exciting interdisciplinary organisation.

Barbican Art Gallery is situated between the City, London's financial centre, and the thriving cultural quarters of Shoreditch and Hoxton. The Gallery re-opened in Spring 2004, following a million pound refurbishment.

For details and to apply, visit

Closing date for application is: Monday 21st August 2006
Interview dates are: Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th September 2006

Barbican Centre is owned, funded and managed by the City of London.
Barbican Centre is committed to Equal Opportunities and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.
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Job: Curator at the Power Plant

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, August 5. 2006 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto is seeking a Curator.

Applications (resume and letter of interest) must be received by August 10, 2006.

For more information on the gallery please visit:

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery at Harbourfront Centre is Canada's leading public gallery devoted exclusively to the art of our time and is recognized as an important centre for contemporary art in North America. Over the past 19 years, its reputation for presenting cutting edge exhibitions, superior catalogues and editions, and challenging special events has remained unparalleled.

Recently The Power Plant Board of Directors adopted a new five year plan aimed at further developing The Power Plant as a leading international centre for contemporary art, renowned for its global vision and special commitment to groundbreaking Canadian contemporary art. In accordance with this is an employment opportunity exists in The Power Plant for a Curator.

Reporting to the Senior Curator - Programs, this is a senior position primarily responsible for developing exhibitions, artist's projects and publications for The Power Plant. The Curator is also expected to play an important supporting role in the development and implementation of audience development programs for The Power Plant and to participate in business and strategic planning related to the Programs section of The Power Plant. In addition the Curator will support the Development section of The Power Plant through the preparation of grant applications and cultivation of relationships with key donors, collectors and cultural agencies.

The Curator will research, develop and present new solo and group exhibitions and projects that interpret the response of artists to developments in contemporary culture and that respond to the global flow of information, emerging discourses, new artists, new geographies, new media and changing contexts that underpin developments in contemporary art. He/she will also contribute to a program aimed at growing new and diverse audiences for The Power Plant, through a dynamic mix of exhibition, publication, education, interpretation, visitor support and community programs that develop audience understanding of contemporary art and awareness of its significance as a vital social and cultural force.

The ideal candidate will be a post secondary graduate in Art History, Fine Arts, or a related discipline and have a minimum of 3 years curatorial and production experience in a contemporary art organization. Proven experience in the organization of contemporary art projects and interpretive programs and exceptional knowledge of the international contexts for contemporary art is a must. He/she must have exceptional interpersonal and relationship management skills with the ability to develop effective partnerships as well as to persuade and negotiate.

Qualified applicants must apply by AUGUST 10, 2006.

Please send your resume quoting Job Reference number 06FT-018 to:
Harbourfront Centre
Human Resources
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON M5J 2G8 Canada
Fax (416) 973-1003
E-mail: [email protected]

Harbourfront Centre is an Equal Opportunity Employer
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