Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

REVIEW: Every Curator’s Handbook

Posted by Sofia Landström • Tuesday, April 16. 2013 • Category: Reviews & Resources

Review: Every Curator's Handbook -'s_Handbook.pdf
by Sofia Landström

This compendium offers hands-on professional insights wherein different authors from different points of view share experiences from their professional careers as curators. The reader gets a specific and detailed overview of what a curator’s work might look like beyond theory.

“Every Curator’s Handbook” deals with multiple curatorial issues from collaborations to funding. With first-hand experiences and reflections from past projects, both emerging and established curators narrate the text in an accessible and educational way. It’s notable that the aim of this project is to create a resource that deals with the practical questions within the typical curatorial career, and takes a step back from the usual theoretical issues which are always present in the background of any art-related field. This compendium welcomes emerging voices that expands from the Western point of view to Armenia, Latvia, and Ukraine in addition to the participants from Europe and North America.

This seventy-page publication contains twenty short articles which deal with specific experiences or projects. One of the first articles, written by Haizea Barcenilla discusses how every curatorial project (even if it’s not considered collaborative) is an actual collaboration between the involved participants, from artist to institution. In this text, “The Difficult but Enriching Paths of Collaborative Practice”, she relates hands-on experiences from collaborations that worked out well and those that didn't. Her point of view is that curatorial work today is becoming more and more collaborative. Barcenilla argues that the profession is becoming more open for dialogue, and the possibility of producing something enriching increases dramatically as collaborative work increases. With this text, Barcenilla sets a particular tone for the rest of the compendium: she, as well as the other authors, focuses on curatorial work as a profession and a field rather than explaining what defines a curator or who a curator is.

Overall, in this compilation, the authors all articulate how hard it is to define what a curator is and what the right path is to become one -- there seems to be no right or wrong answer. In the article “In Conversation with Curator Richard Julin” by Anne Klontz, she speaks with the renowned curator Richard Julin, who recounts a traditional story on how to become a curator. Julin explains how he worked as a freelancer in the field of contemporary design in Stockholm and worked his way up in the hierarchy, a common way to get in to the profession. His career story, by describing the conventional way of becoming a curator,opens it up for other articles in the compendium to describe more unconventional ways.

Indeed, what makes this handbook intriguing are the various career choices described in the articles, everything from Richard Julin’s quite traditional career path to more progressive ones. Hilary Jack and Paul Harfleet’s article is one which describes a more progressive and challenging way of how they became noted in the curatorial field. They set up their own artist led space called Apartment in Manchester after they finished their Master's course in Art in 2003. Apartment was a spontaneous initiative, run from a bedroom on the sixth floor. They describe how their urge to set up something provocative and startling made Apartment a well-attended institution on the cultural map, and made them into curators. Even though Jack and Harfleet never considered themselves to be curators, they soon found curating to be a major part of their CVs when the Apartment project closed down in 2009. Since then they have taken part in commissioned curatorial projects, thanks to their previous work in the Manchester apartment -- something they never foresaw when they started in 2003. Essentially their innovative ideas and eagerness to start something made them into curators.

Ultimately, the best reason to read this book is because it tells stories like Jack & Harfleet's, putting curatorial work into a practical context. “Every Curator’s Handbook” does not aim to be a theoretical or research based book., This is a field in constant evolution, and this book provides a wide range of ideas within curatorial practice and creates a bridge between old and new ways of working.

On the whole “Every Curator’s Handbook” gives readers an insider view of international curatorial practice from East to West, and it gives the reader a wider understanding of the many directions in curating. One flaw is that the texts are often quite short, which does not leave enough space to provide answers to the many questions the reader might face. There are many good examples of exhibitions and projects that are hands-on in this book, showing potential for providing many valuable insights for anyone interested in curating, but the texts often only scratch on the surface. What this publication clearly demonstrates is that there are many ways to be a curator today (another reason why it would be impossible to cover everything 70 pages). It might not be a fully comprehensive handbook then, but as a book providing many interesting narratives and examples of real work in the field, it’s perfect.

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Review: Raising Frankenstein: Curatorial Education and its Discontents

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, March 19. 2012 • Category: Reviews & Resources

Raising Frankenstein: Curatorial Education and Its Discontents: Reviewed by Antonia Blocker

The issue of self-reflexivity is one that looms large in relation to curatorial education and the curatorial practices that emerge from it. How does one challenge curatorial practice without making one’s practice about curating? Can a history of curating be formulated in order to form the basis of teaching? Crucially, can curating be taught and how should it be taught? And perhaps most importantly, are these questions significant to anybody, beyond those who are part of (having studied or taught on) curatorial courses? Published on the heels of the 2008 conference Trade Secrets: Education/Collection/History, held at the Banff Centre, Raising Frankenstein: Curatorial Education and its Discontents wisely side steps this final question. Kitty Scott pitches the book as a ‘handbook for curating students’ in her introduction; although she then goes on to suggest that Raising Frankenstein offers a ‘set of cogent questions and analyses for […] students to practitioners’. By this one might assume she means curators, but perhaps she is referring to practitioners of curatorial education, which in this instance would be more apropos. Yet ultimately, Raising Frankenstein seems to fall between the cracks of its intended audience, failing to provide the pragmatics of a handbook, while not venturing far enough from the subject of curatorial education to serve useful to those unrelated to its pedagogy.

The six short essays range from ‘The Top Ten’ by Barbara Fischer, which provides an outline of a syllabus of sorts – a brief exhibition history that would be standard to any curatorial course – to a relatively informal and unfocused panel discussion. On the whole, the tone of the essays is reflective and vaguely idealistic. Teresa Gleadowe argues, ‘[curatorial courses] have to aspire to remain flexible in content and not […] settle into a fixed notion of their professional competences’, setting an example for far-reaching statements with no practical recourse. Considering that Gleadowe was paramount to establishing the Royal College of Art’s precedential yet highly institutionalised programme, she is in a prime position to make such an assertion. Undoubtedly it is true, yet how should such flexibility be achieved? The more successful of the essays is arguably Francesco Manacorda’s ‘Who’s Afraid of the Ideal Public?’, precisely because it focuses more succinctly on specific grievances with curatorial education and isolates some surmountable problems, such as ensuring curatorial students consider their public and instilling the importance of continued conversations with artists, colleagues and others. Nevertheless, these points are embedded in a somewhat convoluted first person narrative.

Perhaps a more useful publication would be one that more directly and honestly serves as a handbook, that is, one that poses pragmatic suggestions, similar to Manacorda’s, for establishing a professional practice. Although Raising Frankenstein implies that curatorial education is inherently problematic and needs to change and evolve constantly, ultimately it does not address the insinuated subtext – the institutional art world can no longer accommodate for the increased number of institutionally educated curators. Year after year, these courses launch a plethora of critically engaged, but often under-experienced curators into an oversaturated professional market. Realistically, what curatorial students need is not more theoretical discourse around the subject of their education. Rather what they are lacking is a roadmap to working in the current climate, in the hiatus between what curatorial education was twenty years ago and what it will be once it has adjusted, which may ultimately be totally unrecognisable. Of course, in order for this necessary transformation to take place, there needs to be continuing conversations and discussions between those who teach and those who learn. However, when these are, at this point, so far from reaching a solution, I am unsure whether the best place for them is a dedicated publication.

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Review: Esse arts + opinions: Be Nice to Your Curator

Posted by Katerina Gkoutziouli • Thursday, February 23. 2012 • Category: Reviews & Resources

Esse arts + opinions Magazine: Be Nice to Your Curator, No 72 - Curators - Spring/Summer 2011

Contributions by curators Sylvette Babin, Sophia Krzys Acord, Paul Ardenne, Jean-Philippe Uzel, Louise Déry, Nathalie Desmet, Michèle Thériault, Marie-Eve Beaupré.

Last year’s spring/summer issue of ESSE magazine was entirely devoted to curatorial practice. What does it mean to be a curator nowadays? How does curatorial practice evolve in different settings and structures? How valid are the criticisms against the role of the curator? Esse’s issue Be Nice to Your Curator presents an array of insightful essays written by curators and prompts the reader to reflect upon the enduring role of the curator. However, since curatorial practice is not confined to exhibitions, for this special issue Marie-Eve Beaupré has been invited to intervene through comments you can find in red ink between the texts. Besides the linguistic ambiguities that the word “curator” might pose across different languages, for example, curator in English, commissaire in French, the role of the curator seems to appeal to a larger set of criticisms and speculations.

Sophia Krzys Acord in her text “Guest Curating in the museum: Lost in Translation?” explores the risks of guest curating highlighting the different ends of museum curatorial practice versus independent curating. Acord unravels the limitations of such collaboration, which might lead to conventional outcomes with respect to audience engagement and the art itself. Looking at curating from a sociological perspective, Acord investigates the process of the production of knowledge within institutional settings and in relation to independent curating.

Paul Ardenne in his text “Curating Exhibitions: An Evolving and Ambiguous Function” takes a more radical stance on curators by exposing the levels of credibility of popular star-curators, who have more or less shaped a debatable but a rock-hard landscape to act in. Seeking to map the crisis experienced in curating nowadays, Ardenne further elaborates on the current institutional imperative for curated shows by artists and provides a critique for what makes a great exhibition in a chaotic art system led by dynamics other than of the art itself.

Jean-Philippe Uzel’s “The Author-Curator and His Critics” starts off with the well-known and persistent criticism against curators for having replaced the artists. Through an interesting history of curatorial criticism, from Daniel Buren in the sixties to Paul Ardenne and artist Anton Vidokle in 2010, Uzel draws a coherent parallel between the criticisms of contemporary art itself and the practice of curating.

Louise Déry elaborates on the concept of the “love exposed” curator in a more romantic fashion analysing diligently the responsibilities of the curator in her text “Curator, Your Love’s on Display”. Déry discusses the tensions and conflicts among institutions, curators and collectors seeking to reflect on the quality of the artistic practice as well as the significance of communicating art through exhibitions that foreground knowledge and thought.

Nathalie Desmet in her “Institutional Recognition and New Curatorial Practices” explores the strategies used by institutions and curators with the purpose of constructing a new self for institutions. Desmet reports on the concept of the “New Institutionalism” and discusses its problematics by identifying the new trends in both institutional and curatorial practices and by providing critical examples.

Last but not least, Michèle Thériault’s “The ephemeral as an agent of reflexive inquiry” examines the potential of the ephemeral in the production of critical and reflective environments. Thériault reviews her curatorial practice within an academic setting, that of the university art gallery and presents three case studies where the ephemeral allows for experimental shifts in the role of artists, curators and institutions.

On the whole Be Nice to Your Curator gives readers an insider view of international curatorial practice and reconsiders the status of the curator today. There are many examples of exhibitions with supportive visual material of artworks and methods of display that are valuable for anyone interested in curating.

The magazine is available in both French and English. You can get a sneak preview here and you can purchase it here

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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.

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Pick 'N Mix #42

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, January 3. 2011 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

- Paul Lang is the newly-appointed curator at the National Gallery of Canada. At the job interview, he was asked by National Gallery Director Marc Mayer: "Were I to hire you for this job, who do you work for?" Lang replied: "I work for the public and so do you."

- " [curating] seemed to suit my personality better than being an academic, because you're always starting new projects. A curator is different in the sense that one of your main responsibilities is communication -- how you translate what you see in the artwork, what you feel is important about it, to an audience." - Shamim Momin

- "One of the most powerful functions that I have as a curator at a major art organization such as Creative Time is the power to legitimate phenomena. [...] The sad fact is that while critics still worry about whether things are art or not, the big game of cultural production has left the art arena and is now at the disposal of the capitalist machine of cultural production. If art is to challenge the present condition, it must make the scope of its questions and audience much broader and more exacting. For those that take this task seriously, I want to legitimate their efforts." - Nato Thompson

- Witte de With recently held Act X of the Rotterdam Dialogues: Morality. The Witte de With has posted audio files of the talks, including talks by curators Tirdad Zolghadr, Adriano Pedrosa, Clémentine Deliss, Dessislava Dimova, Candice Hopkins, and others.

- Two new book reviews up, and more to come! Check out my reviews of A Brief History of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, edited by Christiane Paul.

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Review: A Brief History of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, December 27. 2010 • Category: Reviews & Resources

Hans Ulrich Obrist, renowned art world figure who hangs out at the top of the ArtReview Power 100 (which is indicative of something, no matter what one thinks of that list) released a book of interviews with eleven pioneer curators entitled A Brief History of Curating. Despite his status as super-curator, whilst reading this book the larger-than-life personality named on the front cover will fade into the background, as Obrist wields a light touch throughout.

The interview format is a tricky one to master. I attempted to include interviews as a key feature of (see my interviews with Karen Gaskill and Alissa Firth-Eagland), but I put the series on permanent hiatus precisely because the format is demanding on both the interviewer and the interviewee. Interviewers are susceptible to overt attempts to appear clever with unnecessarily ornate questions (one envisions a desperate goose trying to lay a golden egg) and interviewees can veer on the side of over-cautiousness in their responses.

Obrist takes the interview format and works it well. He name drops, but rarely does the reader get the sense that he's doing it gratuitously. Obrist sometimes refers to other interviews that he's included in this book when posing questions, which cleverly develops links between the otherwise discrete stories for the reader. His questions are mostly brief and keep the focus off of him and where it belongs, which is on his subjects. He takes a difficult form that looks easy, and makes it look really easy.

Readers will be appreciative that he is so expert at orchestrating these conversations, because the subjects are truly fascinating. The curators interviewed in the book mostly began their careers in the 60s and 70s, and some of them are now deceased. The book intentionally focuses on this time period, which is not far behind us at all, but feels like a different planet compared to the contemporary art world today: Pontus Hulten describes bringing a "Mondrian to the gallery in a taxicab"; Jean Leering recounts jumping from studying architecture and doing military service to becoming Director of the Van Abbemuseum. While some of those stories are extraordinary and highlight difference, other interviews show that little is changed as well, for good and for ill: Walter Zanini describes how it is "normal" for museum officials to work collaboratively with artists, something that happens routinely today; and Lucy Lippard described protests at MoMA over "neglect of women artists" (among other things), a situation which definitely persists. One cannot help but read the situations described by the curators in the book and speculate on how these same situations might be handled today, and this is fine: it helps us understand what the past was like, get to grips with what our situation is like now, and imagine what ideal amalgam of past and present attitudes we might hope to forge for the future.

This book is definitely for those embedded in the art world. There are too many key exhibitions and historical moments and figures mentioned by both Obrist and his interviewees to make the book accessible to a wider public. That said, in a time of "for Dummies" manuals on one end and highly academic texts on the other, it's wonderful to have a book that is simply an informative and easygoing read, with the interviews so smoothly woven together, and yet still for a specialised audience.

More info and to buy: A Brief History of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist

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Review: New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, edited by Christiane Paul

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, December 25. 2010 • Category: Reviews & Resources

New Media in the White Cube and Beyond: Curatorial Models for Digital Art is a collection of essays edited by Christiane Paul (curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art), addressing several topics of concern to new media art curators. The twelve essays cover the full range of territory that curators will encounter, from understanding how artists use the medium to considering how to preserve works far into the future.

Paul's introduction to the book is a solid briefing for curators interested in new media art but who haven't ventured far into this area yet, and it also usefully summarises the many issues in the field for veteran new media curators. Though each essay is generous with concrete examples, a case studies section is also included. The case studies provide intense and practical examinations of detail which also serve to bolster the points made in the essays.

The book focuses on addressing the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to new media and museums, which could be glibly summed up as "why don't museums get it?". As the introduction explains and several essays reiterate, museums are in the business of presentation, interpretation, and conservation, and the very nature of new media art makes those three actions difficult. In Jon Ippolito's essay "Death by Wall Label", he says "Like a shark, a new media artwork must keep moving to survive". Museums in their current configuration are clearly a little more at ease with a stationary shark (in the natural history wing, stuffed; or in the contemporary art wing, preserved nicely in formaldehyde, perhaps?) rather than the restless shark-like character of new media. There is no "set it and forget it" if you are in the business of presenting this kind of work.

So what can be done? Several of the contributors offer concrete ways of addressing the gap. Sarah Cook proposes some metaphors for curatorial thinking around these exhibitions: exhibition as software programme/data flow; exhibition as trade show; and exhibition as broadcast. Metaphor and analogy is a tool used throughout, by multiple contributors: Sara Diamond also uses the metaphor of flows in her essay; Caitlin Jones and Carol Stringari use the analogy of removing old, darkened varnish from a nineteenth-century painting when considering the challenges in conserving media works. The heavy use of metaphor and analogy, and making direct links to traditional conservation as Jones and Stringari do with their painting example, will surely make the issues seem less alien to those who are relative newcomers to the presentation and conservation of new media.

Overall this book is an excellent reference and insight into new media from leading thinkers such as Sarah Cook, Jon Ippolito, Charlie Gere, Sara Diamond, and Christiane Paul herself.

More info and to order: New Media in the White Cube and Beyond: Curatorial Models for Digital Art

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Pick 'N Mix - March 2009

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, March 1. 2009 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

In like a lion, out like a lamb... welcome to March's Pick 'N Mix, a real mixed bag of treats this month:

- First of all, a postscript of sorts to last month's Pick 'N Mix, the "credit crunch edition": You've all surely read it by now, but in case you haven't, Holland Cotter's article, "The Boom Is Over! Long Live the Art!" in the New York Times is well worth a read. Complementing some of Francis McKee's comments that I quoted in last month's edition, Cotter writes: "Anyone with memories of recessions in the early 1970s and late ’80s knows that we’ve been here before, though not exactly here. There are reasons to think that the present crisis is of a different magnitude: broader and deeper, a global black hole. Yet the same memories will lend a hopeful spin to that thought: as has been true before, a financial scouring can only be good for American art, which during the present decade has become a diminished thing." Also, over at New Curator, there's an article on creative use of "slack spaces", which are some of the thousands of retail shops that have been vacated due to the credit crunch and not rented. As Pete at New Curator writes: "What better way to encourage economic stimulus than making sure commercial properties don’t fall into ruin and improving the image of the surrounding area?"

- I'm contemplating writing a whole article about "guest" curators and freelance curators, and their place in the market. Until then, maybe you can just read what I'm reading: an article on the American Association of Museums website called "The Stranger Among Us: Managing the Guest Curator Relationship", and an article by Sharon Heal entitled "Be My Guest" in the February issue of Museums Journal (sorry, the article isn't online! See if you can sneak a peek at Museums Journal at your local library or museum), the upshot of which is that it's a good idea to bring in outside experts in particular areas (for example, a milliner for a hat show) to curate temporary or permanent exhibitions.

- There's a good interview with the ever-interesting curator Nato Thompson at art:21. Favourite quote: "As much as the onslaught of cultural production over the last fifty years has radically altered capital’s relationship to aesthetics, it has also made us much more aware that knowledge has a form, and that there are a myriad of forms for the delivery of information and the production of knowledge. Basically, knowledge is a performance, whether it is the stage of the classroom, or the aesthetics of a typeface in a book, to the performance in a street, to a multi-channel video projection." A satisfying statement to unpick, which led me to ponder how curators perform knowledge.

- A brief article about the internationalism of the curatorial profession in the Japan Times: "Why Curators Stay at Home". To sum up, it asks why more Japanese curators are not "super curators", zooming around the globe, and the article comes up with the rather predictable answer that in order to be international, one must rack up a few air miles and be willing to exchange. Worth a read for the interview snippets with Fumio Nanjo, though.

- A fascinating piece entitled Whither Curatorial studies? is available on Artworld Salon. This piece rightly interrogates the existence of curatorial degree programmes and what they hope to accomplish and equip their students to do. "Undoubtedly the role of curator has been squeezed too narrowly between administration and dealmaking; but the travesty may be that curatorial studies programs fail to acknowledge this when they recruit students and collect their often sizeable tuitions. Shouldn't we then ask what sort of training curatorial programs are giving their students?" Of course, similar questions could be directed at so many fine art degree programmes and humanities programmes as well -- scores of artists leave art school without even knowing if their work fits into a commercial market or not, and if it does, what to do with that information. However, this essay at Artworld Salon is right to focus on curatorial studies, a field of study that, due the competitive jobs marketplace and varying contexts within which curators can work, demands much of those designing the curriculum.

- ...and, this just in: Nat Muller has reviewed the recent symposium at the Witte de With, "The Curators". A taste: "the curator as the new rock star, the self-proclaimed priests and priestesses of the art scene, the critics’ darlings or foes, the curator as genius, the curator as fascist, the curator as the icon we love to hate, or adore. It’s a lot of pressure…expectations were high."

P.S. Don't forget -- some of these articles don't stay online forever. If you want to refer to them in future, develop your own archiving system or use Evernote.
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Podcast roundup

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, March 8. 2008 • Category: Reviews & Resources

I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly while I am walking around the city. I have come across some real gems in a number of subject areas, and thought I would share a few of the recent ones I've listened to that are relevant to curators with you.

Bad at Sports with Hou Hanru:
Hou Hanru is currently the Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the San Francisco Art Institute, and he is also a renowned curator who has curated numerous major international shows. Starting at approximately the 10 minute mark, the interview with Hou Hanru begins with a discussion of his education and how he came to be a curator. Other topics discussed include how self-organisation is a hallmark of both his career and of contemporary times, the relationship between artist and curator, and the "voice" of the curator.

Yale University with Robert Storr: (apologies for the indirect link -- scroll down the page to access the podcast with Storr)
Robert Storr is interviewed about his latest appointment, as Dean of the School of Art at Yale University. He discusses how his work as a curator and critic impacts his thinking in his current role. There are many pearls of wisdom in this podcast, one of my favourites being this statement: "...a career is not how many shows you have on your resume, it is what happens between one work of art and the next." Here Storr is referring to an artist's career, but I think the sentiment also applies to curators.

Bad at Sports with Stephanie Smith:
In this podcast, Stephanie Smith, Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum in Chicago, speaks eloquently about the works in the current exhibition on at the Smart, Adaptation. The podcast focuses quite intently on the exhibition itself, rather than Smith's practice as a curator generally. However, it is a very intelligent and interesting discussion of the work, and the conversation does touch on Smith's curatorial intentions, and on how she had to consider the way the work was presented in the Museum.

blogTO with Jacob Korczynski:
At around the 21 minute mark, curator Jacob Korczynski talks about his experiences in the Curatorial Incubator programme at Vtape, a centre for artist's video in Toronto. Jacob talks about how he researched and selected the video artists he selected for his programme.

More of these to come as I get through my playlists. Happy listening!
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Reviews: Ideas podcast

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, February 6. 2007 • Category: Reviews & Resources

[In these upcoming reviews, I'll be highlighting books, podcasts, exhibitions, periodicals, and other items that I think are of particular interest to curators and those concerned with curatorial issues.]

Ideas is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's premier radio programme of contemporary thought. Their podcast highlights the best of the Ideas programmes. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for their podcast here. Their latest podcast release is a fascinating lecture by cultural critic Adam Gopnik entitled: To Sit or to Talk?.

Adam Gopnik discusses the future of museums by pondering a question that he recently asked his kids: Do you prefer theatres, where you can sit? Or museums, where you can talk? Gopnik was delivering the 2006 Eva Holtby Lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum.

His lecture discusses the evolution of musuems, from (as he puts it, in his very alliterative way) the mausoleum, to the machine, to the metaphor/mall. The lecture is an easy listen, and the evolution he speaks of is well delineated. My only contention with what he says is that it is all a little too neat, too pat. He is keen to isolate the museum into these stages of development, but it is clear that all three stages he speaks of still exist and share the same environment within which to survive. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on his lecture.
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