Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix - July 2009

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, July 2. 2009 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to July's Pick 'N Mix!

- This report on a curatorial summit at the Banff Centre for the Arts appears to have slipped past my radar when it first came out, but thankfully Leah Sandals (the author of the report) mentioned it again recently. Trade Secrets: Swapping Curatorial Confidences was a summit held in late 2008 with eminent curators in the field, including Matthew Higgs, Mark Mayer, Richard Flood, Sabine Breitwieser and many more. At one point in the report, Sandals quotes Barbican curator Francesco Manacorda, saying he was "very frightened about many curatorial projects having as an audience colleagues only. [...] very often in curating, people disregard one of the two final clients of the curator—the public or the artist" -- a concern I agree with and touched on in my "For What and For Whom?" essay.

- If you're keen to participate in debates and discussions, LabforCulture is producing three online discussions that are sure to provide stimulating platforms for exchange. "Converging Pathways to New Knowledge" promises to unpick some juicy topics on knowledge sharing in the cultural domain through live online debates taking place on the 7th, 8th, and 13th of July. While you're browsing their site, if you are also a cultural blogger, why not add yourself to their growing map?

- Jerry Saltz describes "the curator problem" in a recent article. The "problem" as he sees it is illustrated in the exhibitions curated by Birnbaum at the Venice Biennale, which in Saltz's words are "full of the reflexive conceptualism that artists everywhere now produce because other artists everywhere produce it (and because curators curate it). Almost all of this art comments on art, institutions or modernism. Basically, curators seem to love video, text, explanations, things that are "about" something, art that references Warhol or Prince, or that makes sense; they seem to hate painting, things that don’t make sense or that involve overt materiality, physicality, color or strangeness." This call for further risk-taking by Saltz is consistent with his other campaigns and appeals to curators. There is a long but fascinating account of his encounter with Ann Temkin, Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA available online which also presses for diversification and risk-taking: "MoMA desperately needs this to play with its collection. [...] Beuys, Nauman, and Hesse are all bona fide top-dogs; the A-list as art history. I love them all but curators have to take more chances and not just default to the same artists. Other artists were working at extremely high levels in the late 1960s." I admire Saltz's integrity -- not only is he consistent in his arguments, but I think it's a rare art critic that would go out with a high-ranking curator for the sole purpose of having a serious collegial debate -- and Temkin is to be commended too, for taking Saltz up on his invitation.

- On a personal note, I'm quite busy converting my Master's thesis on the voice, performance and technology into a book. Despite that, plus my regular job, plus a bit of summer holiday too, I hope to soon post some (long-overdue, and sitting at 99% completion) interviews and book reviews. Stay tuned!

Defined tags for this entry: , , , , , , ,

Opportunity: The Core Program residency

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, February 3. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
The Core Program awards one- and two-year residencies to highly motivated, exceptional visual artists and art scholars who have completed their undergraduate or graduate training but have not yet fully developed a professional career. Established in 1982 within the Glassell School of Art, the teaching wing of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas, USA), the Core Program encourages intensive and innovative studio practice as well as the elaboration of an intellectual framework through which to understand that practice. Residents engage in ongoing dialogue with each other and with leading figures in art and criticism who are brought in as visitors.

In 1998, the program added critical studies residencies. These residencies also include a $10,000 annual stipend and access to facilities, including borrowing privileges at the museum's Hirsch Library and the Fondren Library at nearby Rice University. The program runs on an academic calendar, from September through May. Toward the end of each year, the artist residents mount a group show in the school's main gallery, and the critical studies residents prepare essays summarizing aspects of their independent research. These essays, as well as documentation of the resident artists' work, are gathered in a published catalogue. In addition to such writing projects, critical studies residents are challenged to curate their own separate shows using space allotted within the museum and/or school. Additional writing and curatorial opportunities are created through cooperation with other area schools and nonprofit art organizations. Like the artist residents, each critic in the program meets independently with visiting scholars and theorists, as well as the Program Director, to discuss his or her curatorial projects and overall research. In this way an environment is created that amply supports not only the production of individual work by both resident artists and critics but its reception within an intimate yet diverse creative and intellectual community. After the first year, residents may reapply for a second year.

To apply, please visit the Core Program website for further instruction. The application deadline is April 1, 2009, and all materials must be received by that date.
Defined tags for this entry: , houston, , ,

MA in Critical Writing and Curatorial Practice at Konstfack

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, April 22. 2007 • Category: Announcements
[Italics are mine - I found the statements that I highlighted to be insightful, though sometimes contentious, viewpoints on the future roles of curators and critics. -Ed.]

Announcing a new, innovative and interdisciplinary two-year program in critical writing and curatorial practice leading to the Master of Arts degree at Konstfack, Sweden’s leading University College of Art, Craft and Design. Our curriculum develops and strengthens the student’s understanding and practice in critical writing and organizing exhibitions in the fields of art, craft and design. But it also promotes inventive responses to recent changes in visual culture and critical practice. As studio practices have become increasingly interdisciplinary, the roles of curator and critic have been reconfigured and new sites of practice have emerged alongside the continuing relevance of established publications, galleries and museums.

Our program is led by an exceptional international faculty, including Rolf Hughes, Ronald Jones, Sara Kristoffersson, Marysia Lewandowska, Håkan Nilsson, Måns Wrange, and Kim West. Students will also be able to study with an array of distinguished visiting faculty – speakers have included Vasif Kortun, Jennifer Allen, Marjetica Potrc, Tirdad Zolghadr, Bruce Hainley, Jens Hoffmann and Claire Bishop – and take advantage of our standing associations with international cultural institutions.

What is distinctive about our program is that students enroll either as a critical writing student or one studying curatorial practice, but collaborate across disciplines while deepening their own practice as a critic or curator. We assume a broad definition of art, craft, design, architecture and media, informed by history, criticism, and theory channeled though new forms of research. As a result, this program prepares students for positions in cultural and educational institutions, scholarship and research, journalism, the art market, and publishing.

Our work, while often speculative, remains practically engaged socially, culturally and ethically. We invite applications from scholars, critics, curators, artists and designers of unusual promise. Applicants should have completed a BA in art history, philosophy, aesthetics, architecture, art, crafts, design, new media or have comparable professional experience. Selection is highly competitive. The program is taught in English.

Applications to the MA in Critical Writing and Curatorial Practice must be received by the Konstfack Admissions Office by May 4, 2007. Please visit our website for further details, and the application form.
Defined tags for this entry: , , , ,