Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Opportunity: Curatorial Interns with ZER01

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, January 29. 2008 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
01SJ takes place June 4-8, 2008 in San Jose, California, USA, and will feature transformative and provocative new works from world-renowned artists and performers at the cross-section of contemporary art, technology and culture. The five-day festival will incorporate exhibitions, films, concerts, performances, happenings, and nightlife occurring throughout downtown San Jose's parks, public streets, museums, theaters and clubs.

Two curatorial internships are currently available with ZER01/01SJ Festival. This is an opportunity to become an integral part of the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Festival, working directly with Festival Staff, in particular, Steve Dietz, the Artistic Director of ZER01 and the 01SJ Festival. The positions are open until they are filled, and begin as soon as they are filled. For more information, visit the ZER01 website or email curatorialintern -at-
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Opportunity: De Appel Curatorial Programme

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, January 26. 2008 • Category: Announcements
Last call for applications: de Appel Curatorial Programme 2008/2009: 'Curating in the expanded field'

Application deadline: 7th of March 2008

Initiated in 1994 by Saskia Bos, the Curatorial Programme of de Appel arts centre wishes to offer young curators a condensed package of experiences and skills that can be used as tools and instruments during the further development of their professional career. De Appel is an internationally oriented arts centre located in Amsterdam that functions as a site for the production of performances, research and presentation of contemporary visual arts through a series of exhibitions, publications and discursive events.

In September 2006, a remodelled version of the eight-month long Curatorial Programme was launched with a renewed curriculum and an extended tutorial team. It encompasses a dense array of theoretical seminars, thematic workshops, field trips in Europe and Asia, practice-related assignments and encounters with artists and art professionals. Throughout the programme attention is paid to the history of exhibition-making, diverse curatorial practices, collection and institution building and project management. The unique and special thematic focus is on the polarity between 'free-lance' and 'institutional' curating and on the examination of 'context-responsive' curating. The formats and methodologies that curators deal with in the presentation of art in the 'expanded field', outside of the white cube, are explored in the programme.

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Fellowship: National Gallery of Art, USA

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 20. 2008 • Category: Announcements
The National Gallery of Art is pleased to announce two postdoctoral curatorial fellowships for 2008-2011, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These three-year fellowships provide curatorial training and support scholarly research related to the collections of the National Gallery of Art. Fellows are fully integrated into a specific curatorial department with duties, privileges, and status equivalent to an assistant curator. Fellows divide their time between specific projects and general curatorial work within the department, which includes research on the collection and new acquisitions, work on the presentation of the collection, participation in aspects of special exhibition projects, and opportunities to give public lectures. Fellows will plan and complete a project in consultation with their supervising curator.

Consideration is given to candidates working in fields represented by the Gallery's permanent collections. The doctoral degree in art history (or the equivalent in countries outside the United States) must have been or will be officially conferred between January 1, 2006 and June 15, 2008. Applicants from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. This is an international program.

Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellows work full-time and may begin their term in either June or September 2008, based on mutual agreement. The stipend is approximately $45,000 USD per year, adjusted annually. Fellows are eligible to receive public transit subsidies as well as medical and term life insurance through the federal government. Complete application packets must be received by January 31, 2008.

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Opportunity: BAC Gallery

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, January 19. 2008 • Category: Announcements
BAC Gallery is now accepting proposals for the 2008 - 2009 exhibition season. Deadline: February 1, 2008. Emerging and mid-career independent curators dedicated to developing their curatorial practice are encouraged to apply. This is an open curatorial call, however, preference will be given to curators based in Brooklyn, NY, USA. For more information and to apply online, visit the Brooklyn Arts Council website.
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Job: Curator at Tate Britain

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, January 15. 2008
Tate Britain's programme of exhibitions and collection displays provide public access to some of the most interesting and ground-breaking British contemporary art being made today. To ensure the highest standard of content and delivery of this programme Tate is currently seeking an experienced Curator to play a leading role in our team.

Your substantial curatorial experience and demonstrable knowledge of modern and contemporary British art will be enhanced by specialist expertise and a demonstrable interest in interdisciplinary arts practice. Collaborating with other Tate team members you will take a lead in devising, developing and delivering exhibitions and collection displays, as well as contributing to the Tate Britain programme and its vision. Your first-class writing and research skills will enable you to contribute to learning and scholarship within Tate. You'll have proven excellent organisational, planning and project management skills. While the emphasis is on curatorial work on the programme (exhibition delivery) you'll also contribute your expertise to Tate's acquisitions process.

Temporary for up to 12 months (maternity cover). Part time over 4 days (28.8 hours per week). Up to �24,000 pa (pro rata to �30,000 pa).

For further information and to download an application pack, please visit the Tate website. Closing date: 28 January 2008. Interviews will be held in the week commencing 11 February 2008.

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Opportunity: Townhouse Curatorial Program

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 13. 2008 • Category: Announcements
Townhouse Curatorial Program, Cairo, Egypt
Application deadline: January 20, 2008

The Townhouse Gallery of contemporary art would like to invite professionals with a demonstrated interest in curatorial practice, critical writing or arts management to apply for an arts management/curatorial program. The course will be taught by cultural practitioners from Spain, the UK, Egypt and the broader Middle East region throughout 2008, on a part-time basis so as to accommodate those currently in employment.

The program has been designed based on feedback gathered during a pilot curatorial workshop at the Townhouse Gallery in 2007 and will be structured around a series of modules on contemporary art theory, criticism, fundraising, and innovative curatorial practices. All modules will consist of presentations by guest practitioners followed by seminars during which participants will have the opportunity to discuss and get first-hand feedback on an arts project they are currently developing. Program participants will be given reading materials in advance and will be required to work on a curatorial proposal throughout the year. At the end of the course, students will re- submit their curatorial proposals and the guest teachers will choose one project to be presented at The Townhouse Gallery.

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Jobs: Vacancies at Serpentine Gallery

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 13. 2008 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
The internationally acclaimed Serpentine Gallery is seeking two key curators to join its dynamic and ambitious Programming team.

Education Project Curator: £30,000 per annum
Public Programmes Curator: £30,000 per annum

The Education Project Curator is responsible for the development and delivery of innovative projects and artists' commissions in public and community contexts as well as at the Gallery. You will be a leader in the field with substantial experience of working with artists to realise complex and ambitious projects.

The Public Programmes Curator develops and delivers the Gallery's wide-reaching public programmes including talks, conferences, screenings and events. You will be passionate about modern and contemporary art and architecture and have substantial experience of delivering public programmes for a wide range of audiences.

For further information, please visit the Serpentine Gallery website. Closing date for applications: 8 February 2008. The Serpentine Gallery is committed to equal opportunities. Applications are welcome from all sections of the community, particularly people with disabilities and those from the black and minority ethnic communities, all of whom are currently under-represented at senior levels. Registered charity number 298809.
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Censorship & Dismissal

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, January 4. 2008 • Category: Musings
Astria Suparak, a US-based curator, noted in a recent public letter that her role as a "citizen and as a curator is to enrich the communities in which I live and work, through engaging, exciting, and relevant creative work." I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly, and I'd also add that taking these actions involves an intimate knowledge of the context that one occupies and a willingness to take calculated risks. It should also be further noted that very often, curators do not work independently, and therefore institutions that employ curators are bound to support these creative risks if they truly desire to engage in a dynamic discourse around contemporary art.

Suparak was the Director of the Warehouse Gallery at Syracuse University, until she was dismissed from her post on September 30, 2007. Her supervisor, Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC), said the reason for her dismissal was that the gallery was being "restructured".

According to the New York Times:
Carole Brzozowski, the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, said the content of gallery shows organized by Ms. Suparak had nothing to do with her dismissal. But people in the arts at Syracuse, including university art teachers, asserted that the ouster was related to risk-taking or innovative exhibitions she organized since becoming the director last year.

Ms. Suparak said of Mr. Hoone: "My aesthetic is very different from his. I'm interested in street art, riot grrl and D.I.Y. aesthetics." A sign at the entrance to the gallery's current show, "Come On: Desire Under the Female Gaze," reads, "This exhibition contains work generally intended for mature audiences." Ms. Suparak said it was posted at Mr. Hoone's behest.

The case of Ms. Suparak's dismissal posits very serious questions vis à vis some basic aspirations and assumptions about creative curatorial practice. As an example, in a recent interview with curator Sarah Cook, the interviewer asks (and I'm paraphrasing quite a bit) about what conditions would be considered nurturing for a curator. (The interviewer, Régine Debatty, asks specifically: "What are the conditions required to achieve "upstart media bliss"?") Ms. Cook responds: "Challenging the system - be it the art system, the museum, or the format of the exhibition - and not being afraid to take a risk (generally being an upstart). At the same time, remembering to take care of the artist and the work, take care of other people and your ethics. Creating situations for contemplation and reflection (bliss doesn't have to be monumental, it might only last a minute, but a minute worth remembering)."

I think that this quotation from Ms. Cook says it best - what better way to achieve bliss than to challenge the system, take risks, and yet simultaneously remain steadfast to your standards. In an institution where the curator has to answer to management, it is imperative that management support the sort of calculated, intelligent risks a professional curator would make. If Ms. Suparak's case is as it seems based on the available evidence, it appears that there was a failure in this relationship - this commitment to producing catalytic moments and entry points for dialogue in contemporary art, by making moves that are not always "safe". These failures are worrying, as they don't bode well for the continued enrichment of cultural experience - which means everyone, not just the curators involved, loses out.
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Pick 'N Mix - January 2008

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, January 1. 2008 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Happy new year! I hope your holiday was a good and restful one. I was so rested I nearly didn't get this out in time... but here it is - the latest Pick 'N Mix!

  • "Top ten" and other summary lists were thick on the ground as 2007 closed out. A few of my favourites in the art realm are New York Magazine's 2007 Culture Awards, the Guardian's Top Ten list (including a few turkeys and special awards), 2007's highlights according to the New York Times, and the top 100 cultural highlights of the year, selected by the CBC. Also, a last minute addition - check out curator Hans Ulrich Obrist's answer to the question "What have you changed your mind about?" at

  • MC2 is a really smart project by two very interesting curators. Mark Coetzee (Miami) and Mark Clintberg (Montreal) use SMS messages to exchange information and formulate a text around art exhibitions that they saw together. Crediting writing to "MC", their shared initials, they produce probing texts on contemporary art that also question notions of authorship. The final texts are then distributed via the web on their project website.

  • I don't want to give you the impression that I am obsessed by curators producing projects in hotels, but... I couldn't resist mentioning a recent "curating contest" that took place in L'hôtel La Louisiane in Paris. Fourteen curators were each randomly assigned one room in the hotel, given a month to ponder the concept and the space, and then given ten days to mount an exhibition in that room. You can see the full list of participants and more details at the website of the gallerist who devised the contest, Olivier Robert.

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