Views on contemporary art curating

Project: In-Site Montreal

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, February 18. 2007
I'm proud to announce the (semi-recent) launch of my latest curatorial effort.

In-Site Montreal is a collection of site-specific art presented on the portal pages of five wireless internet hotspots in the Ile Sans Fil network. Artists Nicolas Fleming, Maria Legault, and Virginie Laganiere have created art works that can be viewed simply by logging in to the Ile Sans Fil network at the selected hotspots. Though the project is best viewed in-situ, you can also view the works produced by the artists for the hotspot locations at the In-Site Montreal micro-site.

I have produced a curatorial text for the project, which I would be grateful for your feedback on, my cherished readers.

The concluding paragraphs of the essay include the following statements:
The virtual spaces that In-site Montreal inhabit are amorphous areas around several accepted gathering places such as cafes, galleries, markets, and bars. They are perhaps places where as an internet user, you may intend to use the opportunity of connectivity to the network to look outward, to read news of distant places or connect with friends far away through e-mails and online social networking sites. The art practice of telematics in particular addresses the creative possibilities when two parties are connected over distance to communicate. In some way, the pieces presented on the portal pages of Ile Sans Fil's network as part of the In-Site Montreal project present something that is almost anti-telematic, in that the works look inward rather than outward. In the case of this project, a connection to someone across the globe is not sought, it is shunned in favour of a further examination and rumination on the details of the local environment.

I'm interested in this idea of the inverse-telematic, the inward-looking, the intensely-local, especially using a tool such as Wi-Fi that we are so accustomed to associate with an outward-looking, nearly-anonymous roaming of virtual terrain.

Thanks to Year Zero One for producing the project, the Canada Council for the Arts for funding the project, Ile Sans Fil for hosting the project, and Rita Godlevskis for designing the map and visual identity of In-Site Montreal.

Curated by "Anonymous"

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, October 27. 2006 • Category: Musings
Tom Moody brings two examples of the phenomenon of anonymity to our attention in a recent blog post.

Tom first discusses a recent example of the Schirn Kunsthalle's "Anonymous" show, wherein the artists and the curator are anonymous. This example is not as interesting for me as it could be, since at the end of the show the identities of the artists and the curator will be revealed. Rather anti-climactic, since after the show, will it have the same impact? I suppose it depends on the work, as always.

Tom cites an earlier example of the same concept:
Harlem's Triple Candie gallery also did an "anonymous" series in 2004 and 2005, consisting of two shows by artists whose identities won't be revealed (ever, according to co-gallerist Peter Nesbett.) The curatorial intent was essentially the same--"reaction to pernicious branding of artists in the contemporary art world"--although Triple Candie framed it more thoughtfully as an issue of "how biography informs interpretation." The shows weren't obscure: one was reviewed by Ken Johnson in the New York Times and the gallerists mentioned them in an interview they gave in Flash Art interview in this summer.

Escaping how "biography informs interpretation" is one thing, but it then leaves one wondering about the flipside of this problem - where is the accountability? Nothing creates accountability like putting your name to something.

The problem is actually bigger and harder to unpick than that simple set of diametric opposites I just proposed. For example, it is sometimes the case that curators at large institutions are simply part of staff and their name isn't necessarily attached to each piece of collateral that is released pertaining to a particular exhibition. In that case, it might be a bit harder to find the information, but usually with a bit of digging one can make an educated guess which person on staff it was.

Curatorial collectives pose a similar ambiguity - the information is there, but it remains slightly obscured who did what, who exactly chose a particular artist, etc. I've participated in a number of co-curatorial situations where the internal methods we used were not explained to prospective artists in the shows, and perhaps that lack of transparency chafed. I'm not sure.

I think that the bottom line for me is that as I study these examples, I'm finding that I like a transparent approach more and more. There is something very appealing about being able to put a face, name, and background to decisions. Biography does inform interpretation, perhaps, but isn't context such as biography an essential part of the puzzle? Or, as Sally McKay noted in the comments on Tom's post, it is important "to follow the development of one indvidual's practice as an evolving project". I think that a long-term narrative in one's practice is something to strive for, and that potential narrative is undercut by anonymity and obfuscation of roles.