Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Job: Guest Curator, Le Mois de la Photo, Montréal

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, May 22. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Deadline : AUGUST 17, 2009

:: Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal is launching its call for the Guest Curator for the 12th presentation of the international biennale of contemporary photography that will take place in September 2011 ::

Every two years since 1989, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal produces an innovative photography event that serves as a catalyst for artists, other specialists of the image and the general public. This event promotes different tendencies in contemporary photography and creates international exchanges between photographers, the public at large, curators, the media and collectors. Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal works with artists, museums, galleries, artist-run centres, universities, and a large group of other partners to present a stimulating event that, by virtue of a series of mostly solo exhibitions spread across the city, transforms Montréal into one immense coherent group exhibition organized around a single unifying concept or theme.

Since 2003, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal has invited a Guest Curator to elaborate the theme of each new presentation of the biennale. All the exhibitions, educational activities, the colloquium and the publication are all organized around a singular theme defined by the Guest Curator. For information regarding the curators and themes of previous events, please consult our Web site at where you can also find more information on the organization, its history, and mandate.

The Guest Curator for 2011 will develop a, new, bold and innovative theme that lends itself to a coherent program of exhibitions, publication, colloquium, etc., that will distinguish Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal internationally and provide opportunities for our visitors to develop a better understanding of the theme and issues in contemporary photography in general.

For more details, please download the PDF.

Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal | | info -at-
661 rue Rose-de-Lima, Local 203 | Montréal (QC) | Canada | H4C 2L7 | T, (514) 390-0383 | F. (514) 390-8802

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Pick 'N Mix - June 2009

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, May 12. 2009 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

Apologies for a late Pick 'N Mix this month... but I had a great excuse. Like many others in the art world, the beginning of June involved being completely absorbed in the Venice Biennale. You can check out my photos from Venice here.

- While we're on the topic of Venice, the Wall Street Journal posted a short interview with the director, Daniel Birnbaum, who curated the main exhibition spaces at the Biennale. Birnbaum says: "I think if the curator is successful, he becomes invisible in a way." This idea of invisibility may initially seem impossible in this particular case, as indeed Birnbaum's job is a very visible one in a sense, but Birnbaum's work also is made invisible by the sheer scale and grandeur of the event. For me, the dazzle of the preview week prevented real reflection, and it is only upon my return, looking at my many photos, that I can begin to appreciate Birnbaum's curatorial methods.

- Of course, following on immediately after Venice is another major art event (albeit of a different nature) -- Art Basel. The organisers have magnanimously transcribed the talks that have taken place at Art Basel over the years. Browse this archive and see what strikes your fancy. (Coincidentally, the conversation for Art 36 Basel was hosted by Daniel Birnbaum.)

- The credit crunch continues to bite, and Curbed L.A. pronounces that the career path for architecture curators is "looking dodgy", partly on the basis of the recent layoff of L.A. MOCA's architecture and design curator. Personally, I'd hesitate to call it a trend of a scale to make the whole career path 'dodgy', though this individual instance is unfortunate.

- I recently received an email asking about good websites for job hunting. While it's true the best jobs are often the ones that you hear about from friends and colleagues, you couldn't go wrong keeping an eye on Akimbo (Canada-focused), Arts Professional (UK-focused), the Guardian culture section (UK-focused), Museum Jobs (UK-focused), CHIN (Canada-focused), ArtsJobs (US-focused), and the NYFA (US-focused). Of course, I'll continue to post lots of relevant jobs here.

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Professionalism and Power

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, May 10. 2009 • Category: Musings

Freelance curators enjoy a degree of flexibility in their work, but are often also in precarious positions when working with large organisations. A clear example of the difficulties faced by curators working in a freelance capacity emerged last week when the Koffler Centre of the Arts in Toronto issued a statement saying they were "disassociating" from artist Reena Katz, that they had commissioned through curator Kim Simon.

According to the statement, the core of the issue for the Koffler Centre, which is an agency of the United Jewish Appeal Foundation of Greater Toronto, is that artist Reena Katz publicly supports activities which reject "... the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state and promotes historically inaccurate comparisons between contemporary Israel and apartheid South Africa, in order to delegitimize Israel." The artist and curator dispute this interpretation of Katz's views.

The project has been under development for over a year and its launch is imminent. As the statement from the curator and artist put it, "...twelve days before the scheduled opening of a project involving over seventy participants, we attended the meeting. We were shocked to learn that the Koffler would be dissociating itself from Katz and our project solely on the basis of her political affiliations they said they had discovered on the Internet." That the organisation would choose to 'disassociate' itself at the eleventh hour is already indicative of a lack of professionalism, and the situation becomes even more perplexing once it is further noted that it is Katz's publcly-stated views that are the issue here, not the content of the commissioned project, which in fact uses Jewish culture as its bedrock and inspiration. The fact that Katz's views were uncovered on the web adds a twist to the tale as well (though again this is disputed by the curator and artist, who contend that the Koffler was aware of Katz's political leanings all along). The fact is that with the advent of web 2.0 and push-button web authoring, any artist or curator can make their views known on anything at any time, offering an unprecedented window on the ongoing fluidity of thought and personal opinion. The fact that this is essentially about Katz's personal digital traces underlines how unfortunate this turn of events has been, wherein an art centre would consider anything other than the work its business. The work, in effect, has been delegitimised here, subjugated to an attempt to pin down whether or not this artist's thoughts permit her to be legitimised by an established institution.

What can a freelance curator do in such a situation? Simon has stated that she is "appalled and heartbroken", and rightfully so. Without co-operation, courage, and support from within the organisation that was to present this work, the curator who is external to this structure has few options. Simon is doing all that she can to ensure that the show goes on, but the sudden lack of support from a well-resourced and branded institution is without a doubt an unwelcome and unhelpful development, that also then becomes a public example which might further dissuade curators from working freelance with large institutions (Simon is working freelance in this case, and is also employed as a curator for Gallery TPW).

It appears that the offer to fund the project fully still stands, so that it can still go ahead, which shields the Koffler from accusations of outright censorship and also from possible litigation. This action distills the problem to the core power struggle that freelance curators and independent artists face, because it's rarely ever about the money. Funding can be obtained without the intervention of an outside institution. The Koffler took something away that is far more valuable, and that's their seal of approval. Unfortunately for them, 'disassociation' in this case denies the rights that artists have to their own views, stifles debate on the subject in the Jewish community, and separates itself from what will surely be a wonderful project that celebrates Jewish culture and heritage in a historical district of Toronto.


Official project website: Each hand as they are called

Toronto Star story: Kensington Market exhibit stirs controversy among Jews

Globe and Mail story: Centre 'disassociates' itself from artist

Update (May 15, 2009):
Reena Katz and Kim Simon have issued a statement indicating that the exhibition will not open as it was scheduled to, due to the loss of the support of one of the project partners, following Koffler's disassociation. Katz and Simon will continue to work toward opening the exhibition at a future point in time. The latest updates are always available on the project website.

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Job: Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Hamilton

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, May 6. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Position: Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Hamilton
Supervisor: Chief Curator
Schedule: Full Time

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is seeking a dynamic individual to join its talented programming staff as Curator of Contemporary Art.

Reporting to the Chief Curator, this curatorial position is responsible for the production of contemporary exhibitions at the Gallery from concept to realization including research, planning, organization, set-up coordination and interpretation.

The successful candidate holds an M.A. in Art History or related qualification and has two to five years experience in a public art gallery, preferably in contemporary curatorial work. A history of insightful exhibitions and publications will be an asset.

The Curator of Contemporary Art must demonstrate excellent communications skills -- both written and oral -- and possess excellent research, administrative, supervisory and organizational skills. The successful candidate must be able to take initiative, work well both independently and in a team-oriented environment. This position requires excellent interpersonal skills. The position will require travel and does involve overtime.

Job summary:
To research, interpret and disseminate visual art practices since 1980 in accordance with the AGH policies and procedures.

Duties and Responsibilities:
- Produce and project manage exhibitions and publications, including research, planning, organization, installation and interpretation
- Conduct scholarly research related to the collection towards the production of exhibitions and publications
- Develop the collection of contemporary art by recommending works of art for purchase and donation
- Facilitate communication and build relationships with local, regional and national visual art communities
- Maintain, enhance and initiate contact with artists, art dealers, collectors and colleagues
- Communicate the cultural value of the collection to the public
- Maintain knowledge of local, national and international practices in contemporary art
- Articulate relationships between regional, national and international art practices
- Understand and implement current museum practices and standards
- Maintain knowledge of current scholarly resources and information technology
- Collaborate/coordinate with staff in the production of exhibitions (collections management, conservation, technical services) touring exhibitions, and community gallery projects and meet the needs of other departments in the promotion and dissemination of contemporary art practices (marketing, communications, education)
- Supervise contract designers, editors, guest curators and writers
- Prepare budgets for exhibitions and ensure adherence to approved budgets
- Provide materials as required for sponsorship and grant applications
- Review and present exhibition proposals to the Curatorial department
- Manage correspondence relating to exhibition proposals from artists and galleries
- Coordinate logistics related to exhibitions with AGH staff (Collections and Exhibitions Manager, Preparators, Security) and outside organizations (signage companies, shipping, etc.)
- Manage AGH publications’ ISBN assignation and distribution in Canada

Job Requirements:
- M.A.; (art history or related discipline)
- 2-5 years experience in a public art gallery or in contemporary curatorial work.
- Advanced communications skills (oral and written)
- Demonstrated experience writing about contemporary art
- Basic knowledge of budgeting and funding requirements and agencies
- Must be well organized and teamwork oriented with an ability to work independently and with others (artists, colleagues, volunteers, stakeholders, and the public)
- Must be willing and available to travel internationally
- Written and oral fluency in a second language an asset.

Kindly apply in writing before Monday, June 1, 2009:
Margaret Hayes
Director, Finance & Administration
Art Gallery of Hamilton
123 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 4S8
Fax: 905-577-6940
E-mail: margaret -at-

*The AGH thanks all applicants for their interest; however, only those granted interviews will be contacted.

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Job: Curator, McMaster Museum of Art

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, May 6. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

The McMaster Museum of Art (MMA) is a public, university-affiliated art museum, one amongst 40 such institutions in Canada. The MMA houses one of the best collections in a university-affiliate in Canada. The collection of approximately 8,000 works including pre-modern, modern and contemporary European and Canadian Art, is housed in a facility with museum standard environmental and security controls. The Museum has an active acquisitions program. The Museum has five exhibition galleries which host exhibitions of the Museum's permanent collection; in-house produced exhibitions of contemporary Canadian art; thematic exhibitions in association with research interests across McMaster University's campus; and borrowed exhibitions from sister cultural institutions.

Reporting to the Director/Chief Curator of the MMA, the Curator will contribute to the academic and research interests of the University and the Museum through the production and development of innovative and engaging exhibitions; publications; and acquisitions. The Curator will provide instruction, both formally and informally, to staff, students and visitors. The position's curatorial responsibilities will support the academic mission of McMaster University to encourage lifelong learning, academic innovation and an inclusive community. Of utmost importance is a knowledge of, and commitment to, innovation in museological practice and an interest in developing a relevant practice within the context of a university-affiliate.

In addition to the curatorial component of the position, the Curator is considered part of the University's management team and as such will supervise museum staff, students and volunteers. The Curator will be expected to participate in the various management and leadership programs offered by the University's Centre for Continuing Education.

The successful candidate will possess the following qualifications:

- A Masters level degree or higher in art history, curatorial or museum studies.
- At least 15 years experience working in a cultural institution in a curatorial capacity.
- At least 15 years experience managing/supervising staff.
- A demonstrated knowledge of pre-modern, modern, and contemporary art.
- A demonstrated knowledge of European and Canadian art.
- A demonstrated curatorial reputation as revealed through one's exhibition and publication history.

McMaster University is an equal opportunity employer. Interested applicants should send: 1) an up-to-date CV; along with 2) a statement regarding their curatorial intentions as they pertain to the university-affiliated context, directly to:

McMaster Museum of Art
Attn: Director/Chief Curator
1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4L6

Only those candidates to be interviewed will be contacted.
Deadline for applications is May 29th, 2009.

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Pick 'N Mix - May 2009

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, May 1. 2009 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to May's Pick 'N Mix:

- An interesting ethical issue is raised by Regina Hackett in her great, new-ish blog, Another Bouncing Ball. In a post entitled "Curators who are loath to credit art dealers", she outlines a few examples wherein collectors were acknowledged, but the dealers who helped to make an artist's career weren't. She asks: "Isn't it time to abandon the illusion that dealers are all about money and curators are all about art?" It's an underdiscussed topic, and I think Hackett is exactly right: the lines between the roles of all participants in the art ecosystem can be a bit fuzzy at times, and certainly the psychological barriers set up between for-profit practice and other areas is less than useful (though that doesn't mean it should escape critical examination).

- In a similar, why-does-this-happen-when-it-makes-no-sense kind of vein (though I apologise for the lack of a direct relation to curating), Jennifer Higgie writes a piece on the recent Turner Prize shortlist for Frieze's blog, noting that once again critics are braying about the "weirdness" of the shortlisted artists' works. Read the article to find out Higgie's hilarious counterpoints to the supposed weirdness of the nominees.

- I quite liked this interview in BOMB Magazine, where a curator is the interviewer, rather than the interviewee. Again -- sorry for the tenuous link, but I think Pedro Reyes is a really interesting artist, and Tatiana Cuevas does a great job interviewing him.

- On a final note, I'm happy that it's Futuresonic Festival time again in Manchester. Festival Director Drew Hemment and Art Programme Manager Dennis Hopkins have curated the main exhibition, and has decided that rather than hold the usual gallery tours conducted by himself or gallery staff, he will have external curators give tours of the exhibition, that will be "honest, open, warts and all". This idea is appealing on so many levels: to see what commentary a fresh pair of eyes will bring, as a solution for how to involve the curatorial community in an exhibition that they didn't take part in formulating, etc. I am delighted to be one of these external invitees and look forward to the experience -- I will report back on how it went here!
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Opportunity: Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, May 1. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Gwangju Biennale - International Curator Course
August 24 - September 20, 2009

Dead line for application: May 15, 2009
Sponsored by The Gwangju Biennale Foundation, The Metropolitan City of Gwangju
Chaired by Yongwoo Lee
Directed by Byungsoo Eun (Artistic Director, 2009 Gwangju Design Biennale) Massimiliano Gioni (Artistic Director, 2010 Gwangju Biennale)
Visiting Professor: Barbara Vanderlinden

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation sponsors the first edition of International Curator Course in Gwangju from August 24 to September 20, in collaboration with worldwide colleges running curatorial studies. The Course will offer the opportunity to 25 young curators from all over the world to work with an internationally renowned visiting professor and curators, dealing with many challenging issues of theoretical and practical aspects of curatorial research, and reviewing the contemporary art as a broadened terrain of culture.

The Course consists of lectures, seminars, workshops and practice in preparation of Gwangju Biennale and Gwangju Design Biennale, with an intensive schedule of classes and curatorial administrations led by the visiting professor as well as presentations of the participants' projects, and visits to artists, designers, museums, galleries and related institutions.

The objectives of curatorial course are aiming to:

- promote reflections questioning the role of the curator, and research projects in the field of contemporary visual culture
- set up working platforms that may enable participants to develop further curatorial works
- proliferate networking between young creators of the visual art scene and encourage international circulation of cultural projects

Themes examined during three weeks of lessons will be: concepts of "cultural hybrid," "aesthetic groundedness," "terrain," and the cultural topology and its relations between East and West; the role of museums and alternative spaces; the question of history and its redefinition; and the relations between art and its audiences will be included along with themes.

Visiting Professor
Barbara Vanderlinden is internationally renowned curator, author and founding artistic director of Brussels Biennial, Belgium (2008) and founding director of Roomade, Office for Contemporary Art, Brussels. She has curated numerous exhibitions including in 1999 Laboratorium (with Hans Ulrich Obrist), Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg in 1998 (with Maria Lind and Robert Fleck), Revolution/Restoration in Brussels in 2002 and Do You Believe in Reality? Taipei Biennial (2004). She is Chief Editor of The Manifesta Decade, Debates on Contemporary Art Exhibitions and Biennials in Post-Wall Europe, Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005.

How to Apply
Interested applicants from any nationality may apply. No study certificate and academic degree required. Lectures and seminars will be delivered in English. The screen committee consisting of Yongwoo Lee, Byungsoo Eun, Massimiliano Gioni, Barbara Vanderlinden, and Sunjung Kim will select from the applications. The application form must be posted by May 15, 2009.

The applications must include:
1. Application form
Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Postal address:
List of studies /work experiences:
(Please attach your detailed CV to this form.)
2. A copy of the most relevant published texts and reports of realized curatorial projects.
3. A motivational statement illustrating the applicant's interests and explaining the reason for the application (max. 5.000 characters.)

The selected applicants will be contacted via email by the end of May 2009. The Gwangju Biennale Foundation will sponsor tuition and accommodation during the International Curator Course. Selected applicants will be responsible for travel from place of residence to Gwangju and back, and meals. The material sent for the application will not be returned. According to regulation of the Course, personal data of the applicants is exclusively used for the Course selection procedures and not communicated to others.

Exhibition Department /Gwangju Biennale Foundation, 211 Biennale 2 Gil, Buk-Gu, Gwangju, 500-070, KOREA
E-mail: curatorcourse -at-

Info: Gwangju Biennale Foundation + 82 62 608 4233

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