Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Review: Journal of Visual Art Practice: Anti-Humanist Curating

Posted by Sophie Williamson • Tuesday, July 12. 2011 • Category: Reviews & Resources

Guest editor, Mathew Poole
Contributions by Amanda Beech, Roger M. Buergel, Bridget Crone, Andrew Hunt, Jaspar Joseph Lester, Matthew Poole, Paul O'Neill and Mick Wilson

Open to submission from those involved in education at postgraduate and doctorate level within visual arts, The Journal of Visual Art Practice provides a platform for issues to be discussed in a public sphere and has established a reputation for supporting and disseminating in-depth scholarly, developmental, applied and pedagogical research within the visual arts.

Although the journal encompasses both the theoretical and the practical and encourages debates that are relevant across visual art disciplines, Volume 9 No. 2 is the first to focus specifically on curating. This special issue has been guest edited by Matthew Poole, Programme Director of The Centre for Curatorial Studies at The University of Essex. He presents an introduction to his research project on the topic of anti-Humanist curating and has invited seven distinguished contributors to discuss their own take on the subject.

Underlying Poole’s project is an exploration of the limitations and problems of Liberal Humanist ideology and politics in relation to curatorial practices. He highlights that curatorial practices and discourses are largely dominated by Liberal Humanist ethics: institutions emphasise the ‘social value’ of contemporary art, and so therefore the curator is put in the position of having to realise these ‘socially beneficial’ goals. In the opening essay, Matthew Poole introduces these ideas and suggests that they may be explored and expanded to consider how curatorial practice can continue to have a political role, whilst avoiding becoming a pawn in a Neo-Liberal Post-Fordist Capitalist political agenda.

Contributions by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maria Lind and Jens Hoffman, originally slated to be part of this issue, didn’t materialise for the final publication, however the journal still has an impressive breadth of focused arguments and debates. The collection of essays build up a strong body of research and thought that reflects the conversations each of the contributing curators have had with Poole and binds all their specialist areas of interest together.

The first three essays - by Buergel, Crone and Beech - each approach the issue of the image and how it is implicated through curatorial practice from different standpoints, and collectively build a persuasive case as to how curatorial practice regularly undermines art work as well as suggesting ways in which this can be avoided.
In the first contribution, Roger M. Buergel discuses ambiguous affiliations between the known and the unknowable in the work of Alejandra Reira and its display, and, in its ability to evoke the subjectivity of history, suggests her work as a case study for anti-humanist exhibition-making.

Bridget Crone further develops this investigation into ambiguity and the image, in her essay ‘The Image; Disaffect in the theatre of representation’. She explores the possibility of the image without a dependency upon a relationship with a human subject or viewer, using the examples of The Otolith Group, Hito Steyerl, Rabih Mroué, Gail Pickering and Tom Nicholson, and subsequently offers a model of curating where structure and methodology are the focus rather than the binding of affective processes usually used to experience the image.

The third essay, written by Amanda Beech, brings together the previous two contributions by exploring curatorial style specifically, proposing further questions about scepticism and doubt that regularly underlies critical curatorial practices today and the subsequent political implications.

Andrew Hunt compares his own experience of curating in locations on the periphery to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guartttari’s book Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature in order to suggest how ‘minor curating’ could counteract the hegemonic curatorial practice. He argues that an ethical approach to exhibition making that involves affirmative modes of critical humour and humility will encourage critical effectiveness in curatorial practice, as well as help avoid curatorial narcissism and tensions between utopian, social and political thoughts on display.

Jasper Joseph-Lester, taking a looser, but nevertheless poignant, approach to the subject matter, discusses the ‘curation’ of public space, in his essay ‘Non-relational regimes of urban modernisation’. Through an exploration of urban planning proposals for Coventry in the 1940s and again in 2008, he argues that gaining the support of ‘the public’ is imperative for urban development, yet a real socially-engaged dialogue is false; instead urban planning simply embodies a political construct. The inclusion of this essay jolts us into considering the entire curatorial debate in the context of wider political hegemony.

The final essay in the publication, ‘Curatorial counter-rhetorics and the educational turn’ by Mick Wilson and Paul O’Neill, gives an overview of the changing relationships that curators have had towards educational discourse, provoked by ‘moral panics’ throughout Europe and the US since the 1960. Wilson and O'Neill insightfully explore how this ‘educational turn’ has impacted on the programming and rhetoric used by both art and educational institutions, reinforced by a culture of reputational economy, and attempts to counter-act this with experimental educational structures.

Whilst the journal is not widely available, this issue is definitely worth trying to get your hands on. Poole has instigated a thorough discussion of what is an increasingly relevant topic in current curatorial practice throughout Europe and North America as more and more publicly funded institutions have to fight to prove their public benefit. Poole’s essay and dialogue with the contributors is only an introduction to a much larger research project which we will no doubt expect more from in future.

The journal can be bought from:,id=131/view,page=1/

Preceeding the Journal of Visual Art Practice’s invitation to Matthew Poole as guest editor, two related seminars were held where the issues were thrashed out. They are definitely worth a listen:

Seminar #1:
Held at Goldsmiths College in July 2010, before the publication, Poole introduces his research and writer and critic, Robert Garnett presents his paper, ‘Humour, Deleuze, and the possibility of a Curation of Humour’, followed by a discussion with the audience.

Seminar #2:
The second seminar was held at Whitechapel Gallery, in conjunction with the launch of the publication with Roger M. Buergel, Bridget Crone, Anselm Franke, and Matthew Poole in discussion:

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Job: Professor of Practice position in curating and mediating art, Aalto University

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, February 4. 2011 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Professor of Practice position in curating and mediating art
Aalto University is a new university created from the merger of the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and Helsinki University of Technology. The new university's ambitious goal is to rank among the top universities in the world in its areas of specialization. The combination of three universities opens up new possibilities for strong multi-disciplinary education and research.

The goal of the Aalto University School of Art and Design is to be a dynamic, international school that promotes the development of creative fields, the regeneration of Finnish culture and artistic education and furthers innovation-based business that supports sustainable development. The School cooperates actively with industry, the cultural sector and the surrounding society and forms networks with the best international universities and centers of expertise in order to realize its goals. The teaching and research of the School of Art and Design focus on design, media, art education, visual culture and audio-visual presentation. The Aalto University School of Art and Design has approximately 1900 students and 450 staff.

Aalto University School of Art and Design invites applications for:

The Aalto Professor of Practice system is intended especially for the field of art, design and architecture. The Professor of Practice position provides departments with the possibility to hire highly respected professionals opening new areas of teaching and research / artistic and professional work. The position also provides possibility for re-evaluation and dynamic development of the field. The candidate will be appointed for a fixed 5-year term.

The Professor of Practice is considered a professorial position with Aalto-level requirements and external evaluation. A doctoral degree or comparable artistic qualifications and significant expertise in teaching and/or research/artistic and professional work are required for obtaining a Professor of Practice position. Furthermore, Professors of Practice are required to be committed to developing the field through research/artistic and professional work and teaching activities.

The above mentioned position is located in the Department of Art ( The department consists of four different training programs, which are 1) Art Education, areas of specialization: Art Education, Curating, Managing and Mediating Art, 2) Environmental Art, 3) ePedagogy Design, and 4) Fine arts. The Department of Art is an internationally acknowledged education and research unit.

The now open professorial position is the first of its kind in Finland. Therefore preference will be given to candidates with a strong ambition for creating a new kind of degree program and educating students to participate open-mindedly in the field of arts.

The application materials for the Professor of Practice position should include the following appendices:

Application letter addressed to the President of Aalto University
Curriculum vitae
List of publications and other works (the most important ones marked)/a list of activity in the field of art or art education
Brief description of your views regarding the future development of the field.
All application materials should be in English.

For additional information, please contact Head of Department, Professor Helena Sederholm, tel. +358 50 314 1546, e-mail: helena.sederholm -at-, or Leader of the Cumma program, Lecturer Riikka Haapalainen, tel. +358 40 5235544, e-mail: riikka.haapalainen -at-

The language requirements for applicants are described in more detail in the application instructions.

Aalto University follows the new salary system of universities, but applicants may also provide salary requirements.

Please find detailed application instructions attached.

The applications for the Professor of Practice positions are to be addressed to the President of Aalto University and submitted to the Registry of Aalto University preferably by e-mail to rekry-taik -at- no later than on 8th March 2011. The street address of the Registry is Hämeentie 135 C, Helsinki (Registry closes at 3.00 p.m.), and the postal address is Aalto University, P.O.Box 31000, FI-00076 Aalto. For details on submitting the application electronically, please see the attached application instructions.

Should there be a lack of eligible applicants, the application period may be extended. Aalto University reserves the right to consider also other candidates for the professorial positions.

The application materials will not be returned.

For more information:
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