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Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix #39

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, June 30. 2010 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

- David Barrie recently gave a thought-provoking lecture entitled "A Bigger Picture: why contemporary art curators need to get out more". He describes why a heritage-oriented mindset can result in constrained collections, noting that: "Despite our long colonial history and our rich links with countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean [...] visitors to museums and galleries in the UK have remarkably few opportunities to see art that is being produced in countries that lie outside the narrow confines of the so-called 'international contemporary art world'." He also skewers the myopic tendencies of some curators who "... neglect art that does not fit comfortably into their intellectual categories". He calls for curators to "get out more", escape the bonds of insularity, and be brave by broadening their own horizons. The text is simultaneously a call to action and an examination of conscience.

- A great interview with Carolee Thea by Richard J. Goldstein that reveals some of her thoughts on the biennial ("an exhibition structure beyond itself, an event that allows for very difficult subject matter"; "Its function, as defined by planners and curators, is to add intellectual capital"; "a component in spreading visual literacy"; etc) and the art market ("artists and curators are unavoidably affected by the onslaught of art fairs and consumerism"). (Thea's recent book of interviews with prominent curators, On Curating: Interviews with Ten International Curators also looks quite good.)

- "I'm not against the market. It's just that I'm against the way the market is overdetermining the art complex at the moment," Vasif Kortun says. "At the same time, we know full well that we provide almost a recruitment ground or a research and progress for the market at the same time. It would be quite ridiculous to say that the biennale is completely alien and independent of the market and its interests."

- Francesco Bonami once said "In theory now you could curate a whole Venice Biennale using only the Internet". The Guggenheim takes a few steps in that direction with YouTube Play, a contest to find the best online video works. Submitted videos will be assessed by a jury and the winners will be exhibited at Guggenheim Museums around the world, and of course, on YouTube.

- An article by Janine Armin on the New York Times articulates the current precarious position freelance curators find themselves in, and identifies the growth of biennials as a particular bright spot in opportunities for freelancers. I found Nicola Trezzi's article describing the growth of artist-curated exhibitions in FlashArt a good complement to Armin's article. While Armin's article quoted established curators explaining why freelancers are still very much necessary (even if it is difficult to be one), Trezzi's article can be viewed as taking those statements even further, reminding us of the multiplicity of reasons why or how someone would curate an exhibition, how it's a creative act in itself, and the value of the artist-curator viewpoint.

Pick 'N Mix - June 2007

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, June 1. 2007 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to the June edition of Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of bite-sized items that have caught my eye recently.

  • Art fair season is upon us, though many collectors and curators seem to lament the lack of desirable objects to purchase, even at one of the biggest of them all, Art Basel: ""We don't buy much at the fair,'' said Todd Levin, who oversees the $100 million Sender Collection from New York, in a telephone interview. "Art fairs have morphed into a 'fairorama' and consumer paradise or hell that is not conducive to spending time to investigate a work.''"

  • Cynthia Beth Rubin adroitly notes on the iDC mailing list that there is in fact, plenty of quality work to collect, there is simply perhaps not enough that is 'on trend'. Rubin writes: "We know that we live in a curated time, a time in which the interest comes not from the artists but from those who envision and organize exhibits around conceptual movements that they either identify or invent (who knows?). If work falls outside of the parameters of the curatorial mission, then it is not shown. If work is too similar to already selected work, it is not shown. But if work goes too long without being shown, it fall out of view of the curators, and it is difficult to resurrect it." Rubin is reacting to this article in the New York Times, about the hot (or not, if you are an ambitious collector?) market at Art Basel.

  • The word "curator" is increasingly coming to mean someone whose taste you trust to sift through mountains of blog posts every day, and present you with the golden nuggets (which is a little bit like what I am doing with these "Pick 'N Mix" posts, I suppose). Björn Jeffery at Good Old Trend explains why he believes journalists need to move from being gatekeepers to being "curators" in the this sense: "Imagine an art curator running a gallery for instance. You don’t go to the gallery because you necessarily know the artist exhibiting, but you trust the curator enough to go anyway. You respect his/her taste and choices enough to check it out." Being trustworthy was always part of being a journalist, and now with this expanding definition of curator, journalists are also expected to have taste.

  • A rose by another name would smell as sweet, right? Perhaps, but that hasn't stopped the powers that be at the Museum of Television in New York City from renaming it so that it will no longer be known as a museum. “'Museum' was not a word that tests really well with the under-30 and 40-year-olds,” especially in the context of radio and television, Pat Mitchell, the museum's chief executive said. Henceforth, it will be known as the Paley Center for Media, after the late CBS founder William S. Paley.

  • And finally, tank.tv has put some interviews with curators from their Fresh Moves project online.


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