Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

"Agile and open" - DiY Curating

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, October 10. 2006 • Category: News
There is an article on the "DiY curating" scene in Seattle by Regina Hackett in a recent issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The article is fairly long and profiles a number of opportunistic young curators, who have harnessed unique venues to host their shows - ranging from the back of a truck, a local café, and a virtual island in the virtual world Second Life.

Seattle currently boasts a wealth of excellent young curators. While a few have found jobs at major arts institutions, there aren't nearly enough of these jobs to go around in a field that's booming in major urban centers everywhere.

That means curators of Van Nostrand's generation, even with solid academic records (she has a master's degree in contemporary art history from Richmond American University in London), have to make their own opportunities.

I would say this is probably a given for just about any urban center. The demand for professional positions in the creative industries will always outstrip the number of posts available. By highlighting the unusual and innovative practices of these young curators working on the fringes, the author of this article accentuates the fact that though these curators may not have top posts in museums or galleries, the exhibitions they are developing are professional grade.

"What it means to be a curator is more agile and open than it used to be," he [Fionn Meade] said. "Curatorial thinking crosses disciplines. The field benefits from what people from a range of backgrounds can contribute."

The very definition of "curator" is certainly more open than it used to be. At any rate, it will be interesting to follow the careers of these young curators and the artists they are selecting for their exhibitions. These qualities of openness and agility that they are demonstrating now will certainly be assets to them throughout their careers.

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  1. If pressed, I suppose I would say that one of my favourite things about art openings is the conversations that take place - since usually the room is too full to really appreciate the art. Recently I was at an opening and ended up chatting to the curat Comment (1)


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  1. a game of intervention.
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  2. Though I am always pleased to see independent curators get some press, I wonder if the very real problem of compensation is addressed. There are always opportunities to make great shows if you can afford the investment of time and materials. Artists have been struggling to get paid for generations, and emerging curators today face the same hurdles with a fraction of the already insufficient financial support. There are few if any grants for independent curators, residencies expect you to pay your own way, etc. If we truly wish to support independent curatorial efforts, we need to treat curatorial practice as a legitimate creative profession and provide funding for freelancers.
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  3. hi Anu,
    I can't agree more. While it is always a pleasure to witness how up-and-comers overcome roadblocks in innovative ways, and enjoy the fruits of their efforts, we must also ask ourselves why those roadblocks are there in the first place.
    One at least hopes that those who demonstrate serious potential in these DIY projects are headhunted into rewarding jobs.
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