Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix - April 2009

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, April 4. 2009 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Where did March go? It's time already for April's Pick 'N Mix:

- To start, I'd like to point you in the direction of this great (and growing) online resource: Curators in Context. Arising from a series of events held in Canada in 2004 and 2005, this resource has transcripts, audio, and video of talks by curators on a wide range of topics. There is a lot to uncover here. As a small taste, I'll just drop in a quote that I quite liked from the abstract for Ivan Jurakic's talk, Navigating the Curator-as-Artist Divide: "The difficulty lies in this complex synthesis of practice and theory, which must not only be applied to the increasingly fragmented means of production, presentation and dissemination of contemporary art, but also respectful of the creative autonomy and expectations of the artist. The 'job' of curating becomes a sophisticated form of intellectual gameplay, which posits the curator in a position sometimes parallel to that of conceptual artist." The site also features a wiki (user-editable web page) that has a list of definitions that could be helpful, and that will also presumably grow.

- A two-part interview with Okwui Enwezor at BaseNow has some complex answers to straightforward questions. Responding to the question of how Enwezor views the role of the curator, he says (in part) "But a curator can't simply be the advocate or booster or supporter of one type of art or another without a sustainable intellectual and cultural argument [...] the one role I do not subscribe to is the curator playing the role of the supreme judge of what is correct. I loathe the idea of the curator as judge of taste. To me there is no critical judgment in tastemaking, only a perverse form of prejudice emerges from taste."

- On a final note, I am now caring for and will be distributing some sourdough starter, as part of the Cultural_Capital project by Kate Southworth and Patrick Simons. "Drawing parallels between the use of bacteria and culture in traditional breadmaking and the self-organising and generative condition of network art, Cultural_Capital is a transformational artwork in which a sour-dough starter is created and grown in the gallery; cared for by the curators." The creators of the project further note that the work "is conceived as a touring artwork that accumulates bacteria and cultural capital from every venue in which it is installed." I am obliged, as a participating curator in the project, to take care of the starter for at least a week, and then pass a portion of the starter on to another curator. So far, so good... it's day two and despite adding (gasp!) white flour, I think the culture is thriving!

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