Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix #41

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, November 29. 2010 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
- Karen Love (Manager of Curatorial Affairs at Vancouver Art Gallery) has written this excellent primer for emerging curators, the Curatorial Toolkit. (PDF download). It's very interesting to look over the bones of our profession, see what the essential, common sense information that we should be imparting to younger generations is. Especially since, with the proliferation of curatorial studies in academia, there may be an emphasis on theory rather than what I would call craft.

- But, lest you think I am anti-theory, I recently was delighted to see (and blogged a quick announcement about) the launch of the Journal for Curatorial Studies, which will be edited by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher. The first issue of this journal is forthcoming, but I am certain it is one to watch.

- Last but not least, a little personal note. I was recently being interviewed by some university students who wanted opinions from a curator for an imaginary smartphone app they were developing that would allow curators to "shop" for work, and much more. I daydreamed out loud with them about looking at artist profiles and work, and then being able to organise it like a mind-map, developing my own categories and tags. I have such a ragtag collection of notes (both digital and analogue) on art and artists that I want to file away for later, that some kind of application like this seemed like a wonderful dream. Quite suddenly in the middle of the conversation I realised this was a terrible idea -- if it was all public. "I wouldn't want to share that information," I said, to their mild dismay. I realised that if I added a tag such as "dark" or "poetic" or "layered" to an artist or work, (terms that might be a shorthand for so many other things in my own mind) to the artist, or to others, it might not seem merely simplistic, but actually offensive. It might ruin some of the mystery involved in curatorial choices as well (which was a lesser concern). I ended up blurting out to the students, "you wouldn't want to know how sausage is made, either", but that isn't quite what I meant. I meant something nicer, like you wouldn't want to know how much work it was to erect the Eiffel Tower, or something similar. Maybe that is food for thought for you. What would be your dream digital tool? How much sharing would be involved in this tool -- some, none, a little bit? Do you feel like you are making sausage, or building the Eiffel Tower? All I know is that I would love an app that would intelligently record my mind maps of art and artists as I see them or otherwise encounter them -- if it's totally private, and with a self-destruct button too, perhaps.
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Call: Emerging Canadian Curator, Flash Forward Festival

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, April 20. 2010 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

For its inaugural presentation, and in the spirit of championing emerging talent, the Flash Forward Festival is proud to announce this call for proposals from emerging Canadian curators to program the Outdoor Canadian Exhibition component of the festival. The chosen candidate will be awarded the privilege of mounting a group show featuring the work of emerging Canadian photographers. Full entry details are listed below.

What we are looking for:

We invite exhibition proposals from emerging curators for a group exhibition that features the work of emerging Canadian photographers. In keeping with the vitality and the range of work that Flash Forward showcases every year, we are looking for a thoughtful and dynamic presentation suitable for the outdoor locale. This competition will provide a platform for an ambitious young curator to truly make his or her mark among international peers.

For the purposes of this application, the criteria that The Magenta Foundation will use to define a candidate as an emerging curator is as follows:

- Potential candidates must be under the age of 35 and have been curating projects for no longer than five (5) years.
- In that time, potential candidates must have curated at least two (2) exhibitions at public/regional or university galleries (should the candidate wish, this may include any programming commissioned as a requirement of their graduate or undergraduate studies).

Submission requirements

Candidates who meet the above eligibility requirements should submit, via the online application process, the following materials by 12:01 a.m., June 1, 2010:

1. A current Curriculum Vitae
2. A one- to two-page essay (double-spaced using 12-point type) that outlines the reasons why the candidate wishes to be considered for this curatorial position. The document should describe the applicant’s curatorial philosophy and demonstrate a solid comprehension of the current state of fine art photography and/or photojournalism in Canada and its international context.
3. A sample of previous critical art writing (an exhibition review or a curatorial statement from a previous exhibition).
4. A thesis, no more than one-page (double-spaced using 12-point type), proposing an exhibition that will feature the work of emerging Canadian photographers at the Flash Forward Festival. Candidates may not include their own works of art in the proposed exhibition. NB: The exhibition will be mounted in an outdoor courtyard in Liberty Village. Visit this link for photos of the exhibition venue that the winning candidate will program and should refer to in their thesis.
5. A maximum of 20 images may accompany and support the proposed exhibition. Upload jpegs only, no larger than 1MB per image (around 72-150 dpi and 800 x 600 pixels). For each uploaded image please list its title, name of the artist, date, media, and dimensions. For each artist, please include a brief bio and, if possible, a link to their website.

The submission deadline is 12:01 a.m., June 1, 2010.
Candidate Review Process

Applications will be reviewed by a curatorial panel of industry leaders:

- Sophie Hackett, Curator of Photography, Art Gallery of Ontario
- Jennifer Long, Artist, Curator, Educator
- MaryAnn Camilleri, Founder and Executive Director, The Magenta Foundation

The winning candidate will be publicly announced on June 4, 2010. The Magenta Foundation will work in tandem with the selected emerging curator to implement their vision and carry out the production of the exhibition.

Please note that the curatorial panel has the right to decline any application that is incomplete or does not meet the eligibility requirements as outlined above.

The Winning Emerging Curator Will Receive:

- One return ticket to Toronto to the Flash Forward Festival, plus accommodation (this component has no transferable value should the winning candidate live in the Greater Toronto Area)
- A VIP pass to attend all festival programming
- A speaking opportunity, as part of the official programming at the Flash Forward Festival, to present the Outdoor Canadian Exhibition
- Publication of the winning curatorial proposal in the Flash Forward Festival’s official program

Full details are on how to submit here.

About the Flash Forward Festival

October 6-10, 2010

The Flash Forward Festival is an international five-day bi-annual event launching in Toronto’s Liberty Village in October 2010. The Flash Forward Festival is an extension of The Magenta Foundation’s successful annual emerging photographers competition, Flash Forward. The competition, established as a platform to promote emerging artists from Canada, the US, and the UK, has positioned itself as the critically important vanguard for introducing international emerging talent to a global audience.

The Flash Forward competition receives highly favourable international coverage and is widely considered to be one of the most important emerging art incubators in the world.

The Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Artist Program once again does what its name implies: it freezes a brief moment in time, preserving it for closer inspection and demonstrating the promise of what is to come in the international photography community. (Boston Globe 2008)

Flash Forward’s mission is to showcase the future of photography, focusing on emerging talent that renowned jurors have identified as having great potential. The bi-annual festival will provide an in-depth experience for emerging photographers through educational and networking opportunities including events with collectors/arts enthusiasts and industry professionals (academics, gallerists, media/art directors and photo editors). The festival will include five curated exhibitions (representing the three host countries plus one guest country invited to showcase their best emerging photographers), as well as workshops, a lecture series, nightly events, an art fair and a closing party all taking place within Toronto’s Liberty Village, the host neighbourhood of the Flash Forward Festival.

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Competition: UK's Next Top Curator

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, October 21. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Salon Contemporary, located in London's Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, is hosting a competition for aspiring curators. This competition will feature a series of pop-up galleries across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), each lasting 1 week to 2 months. These pop-ups will take place in sites left empty by the recession, and each will combine different elements of art and lifestyle – Art & Design, Art & Fashion, Art & Music, Art & Environment, Art & Food, and so on.

Six contestants will be chosen to each run a gallery. Each competitor will have the opportunity to pitch a pop-up gallery theme, help select artists, curate a show, and run the gallery for the length of its operation. Once all of the shows have been launched, a panel of renowned figures within the art world (to be announced next month) will judge the galleries and select the two best curators. The new top curator will be chosen from these two by a public vote run through Salon Contemporary's website.

This competition provides a huge opportunity for any art student with a talent for curating, and any business student with an interest in applying his or her skills to the art market. It will be the experience of running a small business (with the support of a parent organization), of interacting with renowned art-world figures, of dealing with artists and collectors, and of branding/marketing an operation. Additionally, the winner of the competition will receive a £5,000 bursary (full tuition) for the Salon Contemporary apprenticeship program – the most promising curator will get a chance to build on his or her skills and gain the education necessary to run a fully-independent art dealership.

To enter, please submit your CV and a cover letter (of no more than 500 words) to curator -at- Only current students and graduates of the last two years are eligible to apply. Please note this is an ongoing competition.
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Opportunity: European Course for Contemporary Art Curators

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, April 12. 2008 • Category: Announcements
European Course for Contemporary Art Curators

Visiting Professor Charles Esche
Visiting Artist Nedko Solakov
9 - 19 October 2008
Milan, Italy
Deadline for the applications: 16 June 2008

The Province of Milan, the Fondazione Antonio Ratti, and the Delegation of the European Commission in Milan promote the second edition of the European Course of Contemporary Art Curators (CECAC). The course, curated by Roberto Pinto and Gabi Scardi, offers young European curators the opportunity to work side by side with an internationally renowned Visiting Professor, approaching a critical analysis of theoretical and practical aspects of curatorship and of the contemporary art scene. The course also represents an occasion to establish new connections between young operators from different European countries, set up a working platform that may enable the participants to develop further curatorial projects, and encourage international circulation of cultural initiatives.

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Winners announced: Best Art Practices

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, November 12. 2007
The inaugural Best Art Practices award for young curators has just announced the winners of this year's competition. The jury received 132 applications from 32 countries in 5 continents. Their press statement (re-arranged a bit, and with URLs added by myself) follows:

The purpose of the Best Art Practices Award, announced by the Italian Culture Department of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (South Tyrol), is to reward the best contemporary art projects that have been completed in the last five years by curators under forty years of age in non-conventional spaces.

Best Art Practices award winners:
1st prize, 10.000 euros: FRONTERA, Laboratorio Curatorial 060
for the complexity of the subjects covered and for the innovative vision. Greatly appreciated were: the social importance; the ability to involve the tradition and the local population in the creation and fruition of the works presented; the innovatory character aimed at overcoming public art practices typical of the 90s; the topic and more precisely the research into the frontier question in an area of scarce media attention; the unusual ability to develop feelings of freedom, fantasy and poetry.

2nd prize, 3.000 euros: THE PAINTING MUSEUM, Florin Tudor
for the clarity of the curatorial elements as regards to the contents indicated, the historic and geographic context of these and the results obtained. Greatly appreciated were: the strong public impact and the great media attention; the political and cultural importance in a context in rapid social evolution and the innovatory method of approach to the work, which investigates the relationship between state power and artistic institution

3rd prize, 2000 euros: LIMINAL SPACES, Eyal Danon, Philipp Misselwitz, Galit Eilat, Reem Fadda
for the ability of the curators to organize a joint project, in a very troubled area, such as that of Palestine and Israel. Greatly appreciated in particular was the desire of the project to create a discussion platform in which writers, artists and curators from Palestine, Israel and other parts of the world were involved, as well as the ability of the curators to find support for the other stages of the project in Europe.

The jury has also chosen to give a special mention to five projects of similar merit:
  • 6th Festival de performance de Cali-Colombia, Wilson Diaz Polanco, Ana Maria Millan Strohbach, Jaime Andreas Sandoval Alba, Claudia Patricia Sartia Macias, Juan David Medina Jaramillo

  • En Route: via another route, Adam Carr

  • Radio Gallery, Anna Colin

  • Sandwiched, Jacob Fabricius

  • Lagos Open, Emeka Udemba

Jury's statement:
The work of selecting the projects was a collective team effort by the jury who identified in this award a first platform for reflection. The jury thus decided to accompany the motivations for the winning projects with a first few general considerations on the state of young curatorial practices, which might be a good omen for the organization of future debates on this topic.

In many candidatures the lack of a solid cultural background was problematic. This denotes a tendency of the projects to approach the requests of the cultural industry. On the other hand the jury valued as positive the experimental approach of many projects and in particular the active position of many curators, who, through different forms of public involvement, share the interest for activities which enter in the respective social and political contexts. The last observation regards the growth of awareness regarding the practice of the curator orientated at overcoming the traditional separation between the artist as cultural producer and the curator as a simple complementary element to the role of the artist.

President: Carlos Basualdo
Members of the Jury: Montse Romani Monserrat, Andrea Viliani, Anton Vidokle, Letizia Ragaglia, Marion Piffer
Jury Assistant: Denis Isaia, curator of the project Best Art Practices
Secretary of the Commission: Cristina Alietti, executive officer of the culture department, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano
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Call for curators: Smack Mellon Emerging Curator Programme

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, October 6. 2007 • Category: Announcements
Smack Mellon, based in Brooklyn, NY, is accepting proposals from emerging curators for its emerging artists summer show. Smack Mellon’s mission is to nurture and support emerging, under-recognized mid-career and women artists in the creation and exhibition of new work by providing exhibition opportunities, studio workspace, and access to equipment and technical assistance for the realization of ambitious projects.

The Emerging Artists Summer Show will be curated by a selected Emerging Curator and will be made up of Emerging Artists. An Emerging Artist is considered to be an artist without commercial representation who has been working as an artist for less than 10 years and who may not have had previous opportunities to show at a gallery or non-profit space. An Emerging Curator is defined as an independent curator who is beginning their career as a curator.

Proposals are due at Smack Mellon on November 1st. After being chosen, the selected Emerging Curator will review submissions from Emerging Artists with the Smack Mellon staff. Curators will be expected to select some artists from these submissions for their show.

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Curatorial training programme at De Appel

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 14. 2007 • Category: Announcements
De Appel is a contemporary arts centre, located in the heart of Amsterdam. Over the 25 years of its existence it has been operating on an international level and for 10 years de Appel has been running a renowned Curatorial Training Programme.

In September 2007, the new version of the eight - month long Curatorial Programme of de Appel, with a renewed curriculum and an extended tutorial team will start. Initiated in 1994, the course wishes to offer young curators a condensed package of experiences and skills which can be used as tools and instruments during the further development of their professional career.

This year an international selection committee, chaired by Ann Demeester, director of de Appel and Head of the programme, selects about 6 participants of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.


1. A letter of motivation in which what your personal drive and what you expect from the programme is stated.
2. A proposal for a show (5-15 pages), including: concept and location of the show (main focus), the participating artists (including some image material), a budget of the show, a publicity plan (not obliged)
3. A CV, including an extensive description of one's relevant working experience
4. Two written references of (former) tutors, professors or employers, in English.

On the basis of the submitted documents a pre-selection is made in February. Approximately ten candidates will be shortlisted; they are invited to come to Amsterdam in the end of February or beginning of March for an interview.

Application deadline: 31 January 2007

Send completed applications (in duplicate) to:
de Appel
Att: Roos Gortzak, CTP 07/08
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 10
1017 DE Amsterdam
The Netherlands

For further information please visit our website: Or contact Roos Gortzak on + 31 (0) 20 6255215, roosgortzak -at-
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"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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