Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Pick 'N Mix #46

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, September 23. 2011 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

- In Manila, Catholic groups used intense pressure tactics to shut down an exhibition. The curator, J. Pacena III, says: "I am shocked and appalled by how our civil liberties were exploited to satiate the sensibilities of a raucous mob."

- From a report on the British Art Show by Amy Fung: "While their curatorial focus has been on selecting individual works of merit, history cannot be escaped, and motifs cannot be suppressed."

- "If they choose to work in India, young curators will need to use the opportunities provided by the private sector as there is, after all, no corresponding growth in state-run or public museums and galleries." From an interview by Natasha Ginwala with Geeta Kapur on the curatorial context in India.

- In Toronto, plans for a two-year, $420,000 contract for a curator who would choose artwork for a new public transport line have been cancelled. The argument was that the transport agency should "focus on getting the line built". Certainly, although planning how art will be integrated from the start is surely better than retrofitting it later.

- Just found this Feminism and Curating wiki. Looks like the start of a good resource.

- "Art is at a crossroads. It has exhausted its possibilities and needs to expand." - Zhang Ga, Curator of Translife exhibition at NAMOC, China

- Last but most definitely not least! You surely saw our announcement about the first Fellowship. Download the application form here, applications are due October 21! Also please consider supporting the financing of the Fellowship with a donation to our crowdfunding campaign. Looking forward to your generous demonstrations of support and your applications for the first Fellowship!

Defined tags for this entry: , , , ,

Opportunity: Fellowship

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, September 19. 2011 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

The application date for this opportunity has passed. Fellowship is pleased to announce a new curatorial fellowship in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow. Commencing in 2012, the Fellowship is a paid opportunity for an individual to conduct curatorial research and produce an exhibition at the CCA.

In response to the need for paid hands-on experience in curating, Founder and Editor-in-Chief Michelle Kasprzak designed the Fellowship as a way to facilitate this essential experience. The inaugural Fellowship will take place in partnership with Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Glasgow, a dynamic organisation in one of Europe’s most culturally-vibrant cities. The Fellowship is funded partly by CCA, and partly by the community itself through a crowdfunding campaign. Please donate to the campaign here:

The Fellow will work at the CCA in Glasgow, Scotland four days per week over the six month fellowship, working on a curatorial project or body of curatorial research. Fellows will be paid a flat fee of £8,000. Ideal candidates for the Fellowship are emerging or mid-career curators who can demonstrate passion and fresh thinking in curating and writing about contemporary art, and who have a vision for what the role of the curator means today.

The deadline for applications is October 21, 2011. Applicants will be notified November 15, 2011. Applications will be judged by Francis McKee, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow; Sally Tallant, Head of Programmes, Serpentine Gallery / incoming Artistic Director & CEO, Liverpool Biennial; and Michelle Kasprzak, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of

Interested in applying? Download further information and the application form here.

More info about CCA:

Defined tags for this entry: , , ,

Review: What Makes A Great Exhibition?

Posted by Sophie Williamson • Tuesday, May 24. 2011 • Category: Reviews & Resources

What Makes A Great Exhibition?

Edited by Paula Marincola, Director of the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative (PEI).

Essays by Glenn Adamson, Paola Antonelli, Carlos Basualdo, Iwona Blazwick, Lynne Cooke, Thelma Golden, Mary Jane Jacob, Jeffrey Kipnis, Paula Marincola, Detlef Mertins, Mark Nash, Ralph Rugoff, Ingrid Schaffner and Robert Storr.

Supposedly we don’t judge a book by its cover, and with this publication we should give its title the same respect. The Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative has continually challenged arts professionals to devise exhibitions of high artistic merit by posing them with this deceptively simple sounding question: What makes a great exhibition?

The dialogue surrounding exhibitions is invariably based on theme and content. Having recently evaluated MA curating courses, I was surprised to find that syllabi too usually focus on the conceptual development of exhibitions rather than the practical tools of creating them.

Seeking to provoke this reflection beyond their direct constituency, Marincola poses this question of ‘what makes a great exhibition’ to fourteen highly distinguished curators and leading professionals in the field in an attempt to uncover the instinctive considerations and processes that they have developed through experience. Marincola also seeks to illustrate how curatorial objectives collide with the reality of practicalities in exhibition making. Refreshingly, the editor realizes that as contemporary art exhibitions attract larger and more diverse audiences this is a debate that should be readily accessible. The book therefore allows a rare behind the scenes look at exhibition making for a readership that reaches beyond curating professionals.

Each contributor responds to the question from different perspectives and experiences. Ranging from past Documenta curators and Venice Biennale commissioners, to directors of some of the world’s most prestigious museums and influential galleries, the contributors have been responsible for an impressive canon of important exhibitions. Each of these exhibitions has been individually evaluated through official texts, publications, and events, as well as through the press and media. In this anthology however, Marincola asks the contributors to think about common denominators shared in the successes - or indeed failures - of these projects, how they are produced, and their concepts formed.

Marincola has outlined the expanded complexities of the publication title question in a series of leading sub questions. These relate to all elements of exhibition development and realisation, such as marrying exhibition concept with artist's intentions; placing of works in relation to each other as well as the architectural framework; formal presentation and supporting text; catalogue and legacy; and the varying roles of and relationships between curator, institution and artist within these processes of decision making.

Outlined on the cover, Marincola reveals an expanded list of questions that she had posed to the contributors. Printed also on an inserted bookmark, the reader is prompted to continually refer back to these points of interest. Despite the authority of the essays, this transparency in the guiding questions of the publication allows the reader to participate in the dialogue and encourages us to create our own responses.

The breadth of the subject matter creates a dilemma for those attempting responses; the contributors’ styles vary considerably. Some answer in theory only, without relating to examples. This could run the risk of vague statements, sounding more like an instruction manual, the ‘how-to’ of curating. However, for example, Robert Storr's thoroughness hits the nail on the head with each of his poignant statements, referring to issues that those working in the industry are all too familiar with. He highlights the curator's pivotal role in balancing the pressures from artists, institutions, gallerists, and so on, as well as practical limitations of budget, space and those things outside of our control, whilst staying true to the original curatorial concept of the exhibition.

Others use media-specific examples to illustrate their answers. Mark Nash's exploration of the difficulties of curating film and video (as opposed to programming), is in balanced contrast to Glenn Adamson’s discussion on craft, and Ingrid Schaffner composes an inspiringly in-depth investigation into the experiential impact of wall text and labeling.

Architectural space is an underlying issue throughout the anthology of essays. This is extended to place and locality as Iwona Blazwick reflects on a century of exhibitions at Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Balancing the influences of conflicting interests is another issue that surfaces throughout. Ralph Rugoff’s debate on group shows is particularly thought-provoking; posing the question of whether a group show of bad art can only be a bad show and whether it is possible to make a great show with only great art works. Carlos Basualdo’s criticism of the lack of critical context to influential biennials and megashows holds an interesting dialogue with Thelma Golden’s essay on the politics of ethnically specific exhibitions.

For me, the key highlights were the moments when the authors directly encapsulate their answer to the question - for example, Mark Nash's poetic summary that 'the notion of a series of emotional and intellectual encounters that are montaged to form an organised, thematic sequence is at the heart of every great exhibition and every great experience of an exhibition'.

The breadth of the publication title allows for practical as well as emotive and personal responses. The contributors’ texts are interesting insights into how they individually view their role in the creation of an exhibition, and act as introductions to much larger discussions. The further debate that it promises to lead to is enticing; no doubt Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative will continue to thrash out these questions that underpin exhibition-making in future publications and events. I look forward to following their developments.

Defined tags for this entry: , , ,

Pick 'N Mix #40

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, October 26. 2010 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

Welcome to the latest edition of Pick 'N Mix.

- It's not easy to put together a show," says Manish Pushkale. "Being an artist I understand the limitations of other artists and the discussions could extend to techniques as well. An artist-curator has that advantage, even though they might not have studied curating."

- Holland Cotter: "The subject of what is gained and lost in art in the age of mechanical reproduction is ancient by now. But the question of what art’s future might be on the accessible, untamable Internet is still a bit new. And cyberspace remains, so far, a curator-challenging frontier."

- Alex Kleiman: "In order to be a good curator, generally, you have to be quite flexible and responsive, and in order to curate interestingly and engagingly you have to be multifariously aware, impressionable and analytical."

- Who Cares? 16 Essays on Curating in Asia, commissioned by Para/Site Art Space, is an anthology that compiles 16 essays on curating art in and of Asia. One of the themes addresses the politics of care, commonly understood as the basic role of curators, with regards to art and artists, across time and contexts. Another theme revolves around markers of success in the realm of contemporary curating. A third recurring theme deals with curating in the globalised art world of advanced travel and communication technologies. A fourth theme reconsiders the audience as active producers in a curated experience. Through a variety of perspectives and literary styles, these texts constitute primary notes towards 'curatorial criticism,' a subfield of art criticism that identifies the new in curating today.

- Issue 6 of On Curating is available for download, focusing on exhibition making. The issue features interviews with Nikolaus Schaffhausen, Zoe Gray, and Paul O’Neill, an essay by Hito Steyerl, and much more.
Defined tags for this entry: , asia, , , online

Opportunity: Soliciting Unsolicited Proposals, apexart

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, January 15. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

The application date for this opportunity has passed.

Soliciting unsolicited exhibition proposals

Continuing their annual Unsolicited Proposal Program, apexart is currently accepting 600-word, idea-based proposals for evaluation by an international panel of apexart associates (curators, artists, writers, philosophers). Submissions are reviewed independently, anonymously and without visual support material—they are evaluated solely on the strength of the idea. No mountain too high, no river too deep!

Previous curatorial experience is in no way required, and will not factor into the selection process.

The two proposals with the highest ratings will be presented at apexart in the 2009/10 season (September 2009 to August 2010). For those in or outside the field, this program is a unique opportunity to have a professionally mounted exhibition in New York City!

Applications are welcomed and encouraged from around the world. Visit the site for more info, guidelines, past winners, and to apply:

Proposals accepted online only from February 1 to 28, 2009.
Defined tags for this entry: , ,

Voice & Void: 2006 Hall Curatorial Fellowship Exhibition

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, September 6. 2007 • Category: News

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has just announced the exhibition curated by their inaugural Hall Curatorial Fellow, and it sounds well worth a visit. The vernissage is on 16 September, and the exhibition is on view from then until February 24, 2008. Announcement from the Aldrich follows:

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is pleased to present Voice & Void – curated by Thomas Trummer, the first recipient of the Hall Curatorial Fellowship.

The human voice has become a major subject in recent scholarly debates, so it is no coincidence that an Aldrich exhibition will explore the topic from an artistic vantage. In Voice & Void, Trummer will utilize the state-of-the-art sound facilities in the Museum's building to illustrate how voice–and the absence of voice–can be expressed by the visual arts.

With Voice & Void, Austrian native Thomas Trummer, will consider the effects of what happens when one sense is replaced by another, with particular focus on hearing and seeing. Trummer’s exhibition will feature both commissioned and loaned contemporary works of all media by a diverse group of international artists–including a sculptural aviary that will house two living parrots that speak the long-lost language of May-po-re!

Works by Rachel Berwick, Joseph Beuys/Ute Klophaus, John Cage, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, VALIE EXPORT, Anna Gaskell, Asta Gröting, Christian Marclay, Melik Ohanian, Hans Schabus, Nedko Solakov, Julianne Swartz, and Cerith Wyn Evans will be on view.

Continue reading "Voice & Void: 2006 Hall Curatorial Fellowship Exhibition"

Defined tags for this entry: aldrich, , ,