Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Unattributed quotes at openings

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, March 3. 2007 • Category: Musings
If pressed, I suppose I would say that one of my favourite things about art openings is the conversations that take place - since usually the room is too full to really appreciate the art.

Recently I was at an opening in a white cube and ended up chatting to the curator of the show, whose name I usually recognise as an artist. Fuelled by cheap cabernet, I peppered her with questions about how the show came about, why she was trying her hand at curating, etc. Her answer was fascinating in its simplicity: she wanted to curate this show because she was frustrated that the work had toured all over the world, but not shown in the artists' backyards.

I smiled and said something charming enough to keep her talking to me for the next few minutes, and then reflected on what she said quite closely afterward. I found it fascinating - her taking on this mantle of curator that she really wasn't interested in, out of necessity, because the work that she wanted to see simply wasn't being shown.

Her response reminded me a little bit of the DIY curators in Seattle that I blogged about, who were frustrated by being kept out of the system, and therefore began working in a host of different sites to satisfy their desire to present the work that they wanted to see. Once I had compared this reluctant curator's response to the situation of self-identified curators who don't have a white box venue to work in, it occurred to me that their motivations were extremely similar. Don't curators curate because they want to see the work they are bringing in? Because no one else is doing it? Because they think it is important that a certain group of people see a certain set of works? So important, in the case of the Seattle DIY-ers, that they will do it anywhere. So important, in the case of my reluctant curator, that she will step out of her role as an artist to just make it happen.

By force or by choice, some of the fundamental motivations behind curating an exhibition seem the same.
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