Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Answers: Results of the Netherlands Media Art Institute's survey

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, October 27. 2010 • Category: Questions & Conversations

Thanks to everyone who was able to assist the Netherlands Media Art Institute by responding to their survey targeted at curators, which I posted here. The NIMk received 172 responses, and have collated the results into a report that you can download in PDF format at the Culture Vortex website.
I encourage you to browse the whole report, but thought I'd point out findings that I think are interesting:
- only 20% of the respondents use online video sites (Vimeo, YouTube) to scout for new work.
- 67% of respondents listed UbuWeb as one of their most visited websites, however, suggesting that curators appreciate a resource that is already heavily curated.
- there is no interest in a printed catalogue of NIMk's works for distribution, but heavy interest in being able to save selections in NIMk's online catalogue.
- several needs were identified, including access to full-length works online, access to non-Western work, and access to performance work.
Get the whole report here.

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Questions: A Survey by the Netherlands Media Art Institute

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, August 24. 2010 • Category: Questions & Conversations

The Netherlands Media Art Institute has developed an online survey specifically designed for professional curators and programmers of exhibitions, screenings and festivals. The questionnaire was developed by the distribution department of the Netherlands Media Art Institute, in which they seek to learn about ways to improve their services.

The questions are good and got me thinking about how I search for new work and artists. It takes just a few minutes, follow this link: to give your point of view to NIMk.

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Pick 'N Mix - November 2008

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, November 4. 2008 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to November's Pick 'N Mix.
- First off, a roundup of relevant Facebook pages that have come to my attention. I know a fine few folk who have issues with Facebook and are not members of the service, but I do have to say for the record that I think it is one of many great web 2.0 tools to network and stay informed about what's happening culturally. More and more organisations are using Facebook to either make exclusive offers or communicate messages to their Facebook fans first. One of the many reasons for this is that I think organisations and groups appreciate the way that Facebook allows them to see more and know more about who is interested in their activity. Each person who is a "fan" of yours on Facebook is a real live person that validates what you are doing and is following your message. You can't say the same for the list of IP addresses in your organisation's website statistics log. Anyways, here are a few that caught my eye:
Blood (Contemporary Art Society) (New on Facebook)
MoMA (Exclusive offers for Facebook fans)
Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum (Lots of helpful links)
Walker Art Center (Lots of photos and video)
...and of course,!

Add more suggestions of Facebook pages and groups in the comments!

- ...and now for a charming anecdote. I was at a wonderful event during the Frieze Art Fair in London. Organised by the Contemporary Art Society and Castlefield Gallery, the event was a sort of artist-collector-curator "speed dating", that also featured the work of artist Feng-Ru Lee, who was busy making dumplings to share with the crowd (and putting Castlefield Gallery Director Kwong Lee to work in their makeshift kitchen, too!). It was a great use of the "speed dating" principle applied to the cultural realm, and these quick and focused introductions felt very apropos after whizzing through the hustle and bustle of the art fairs. One of the people I met that night, Lotte Juul Petersen, told me that she is the new Artists and Programmes Curator at Wysing Arts, and in our conversation I discovered that she found out about the job here first, at! To say that this little piece of information made my night would be an understatement. Congratulations on your new job, Lotte!

- I have to apologise for this month's Pick 'N Mix being a little light on content, but you'll forgive me: This Friday an exhibition I've been working on launches in London, which means a lot of last-minute things (not to mention, the ink is barely dry on the curatorial essay...). For more information on the show, Schematic: New Media Art from Canada, please visit the project website (link corrected on 12/11/08! Apologies!) or the gallery's website. As for more meaty content for this blog, once the Schematic exhibition is up and running I intend to finish off and post a book review and some podcast reviews, so stay tuned!
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New publication: On Curating

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, June 4. 2008 • Category: Reviews & Resources is an independent international web-journal focusing on questions around curatorial practise and theory.

For the inaugural issue, the editors asked thirty-one curators a series of questions around what topics in curating they would most like to see discussed, about key resources online, and about exhibitions and peers that have influenced them.

"We have written to professionals, whose position in curating, in the arts and in theory we think most interesting and challenging in contemporary discussion. We invited a broad selection of art-world figures, curators we find critical, artist-curators and other interesting people from our direct networks." is published by Dorothee Richter. The concept was developed by Dorothee Richter in cooperation with Maren Brauner, Johanna Franco Bernet, Barnaby Drabble, Irene Grillo, Petra Haider, Damian Jurt, Christoph Kern, Wolf Schmelter, Thomas Zacharias. Supported by Postgraduate Program in Curating, Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS), Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).
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Job: Curator, Axis (Maternity Cover)

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, May 30. 2008 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
Curator (Maternity cover)
22.5 hours per week
£18,000 per annum pro rata
Based in: Leeds, UK

Axis is looking for a curator with exceptional writing, communication and project management skills to join a small, energetic and committed team and create content for the 'Selected' section of the Axis website. You will have an excellent knowledge of contemporary art and the national visual arts infrastructure and a high level of IT literacy. You will be responsible for coordinating Open Frequency, curated selections and play a crucial role in the development of Axis' online resource. An application pack can be downloaded at
Deadline for applications: 5pm Wednesday 4 June 2008

For more information about Axis, please visit the Axis website.
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Opportunity: Call for curators at artselector

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, April 19. 2008 • Category: Announcements
The artselector contemporary fine art collective was originally set up by MA Fine Art graduates of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. artselector offers an online visual directory of international contemporary fine artists, independent curators and galleries.

Currently artselector is seeking to appoint sessional curators in the areas of painting, sculpture, photography, digital media, printmaking, performance, drawing, film & video, and audio art. You should be either a practicing contemporary fine artist/researcher or curator, ideally a postgraduate, with an international exhibiting/curating history. Sessions are negotiable between 1 and 6 months.

Although unpaid, artselector sessional curators will benefit from being credited and receiving specific coverage of their own practice on the artselector website. For more information contact: admin -at- Deadline: May 20th 2008.
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...and now I'm off to curate my coffee table

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 14. 2007 • Category: Musings
The terms "curator" and "curating" are being slung around in a wide variety of contexts these days, mostly to do with the curator-as-filter. It is intriguing to see a term that is usually used in a fine arts context to be used in other contexts (in the three cases I mention below: the Web, interior decorating, and metadata) though it can sometime feel as though the word is being appropriated because there is no other term to describe precisely what is going on.

One of the first items like this that caught my eye was an article by Suw Charman on Strange Attractor that I quite enjoyed.

But we don't need gatekeepers anymore. We don't need people who stand between us and our stuff, deciding what to tell us about and what to ignore. We don't need arbiters of taste. [...] What we need are curators. And we need them badly. [...] Curators already exist. Some are people: Bloggers who sift through tonnes of stuff in order to highlight what they like, and who, if you have the same taste as them, can be invaluable to discovering new things to like. Some are aggregators: Site that gather lots of little bits of stuff and present them in aggregation and help us find the bits that the majority find to be good. Some are algorithms: recommendation systems and search.

As I mention earlier, it seems that we need a new word to accurately describe what is involved in filtering and dissecting content for other users of the internet. Is creating a focused list of links curating? Blogging photos of random things - is that curating? Perhaps it is to an extent, but at this time, the role and host of skills that the word "curator" summons to my mind seems a bit flattened when used to describe the function of someone I would call a "filter" (though that sounds quite impersonal and awful - hence I am proposing that a new word needs to be created) would be.

Next, an article that mildly horrified me for its use of the word curating:

For hourly fees generally ranging from $50 to $250, these microdesigners, known in the trade as rearrangers or accessorizers, will regroup the potted plants in the foyer, style the paperweight collection on the coffee table, create vignettes of country-style baskets atop kitchen cabinets or spruce up the presentation of the family china.

With me so far? People who will re-arrange the potted plants in the foyer are "microdesigners". Probably nice, inoffensive work if you can get it. Later in the article however, the c-word crops up:

For Jennifer Wong, 39, the owner of a consulting firm in Portland, Ore., not having to think about the details is "pure bliss." Ms. Wong, whose home is decorated with mid-century furniture, recently enlisted the services of Martie Accuardi, who calls herself a microdesigner and charges $75 an hour, to curate her mantelpiece. Not only does Ms. Accuardi style her client's existing decor, she augments it with pieces she brings in from her small home store. As part of her service, every few months she swaps out the old accessories and brings in new ones, adding seasonal accents.

I was gobsmacked to see that it was possible to curate a mantelpiece. I wonder in this case, if the word actually came out of Jennifer Wong's mouth and was used by the author of the piece but not directly quoted, or if the author of the piece was using her thesaurus and that is how she came up with the concept of the curated mantelpiece.

Playing devil's advocate with myself for a moment, perhaps there is some simplification going on, but the basic function of a curator is to select and choose work - so selecting and choosing items for inclusion in someone's home could be curation. Or again, is what we are talking about here simply filtering? In the first case, filtering scores of links on the web, in the second case, filtering a host of choices at the home decor shop.

Finally, curation comes up on Anil Dash's blog when he loses the metadata associated with his iTunes song library. For him the information that surrounds each song is nearly as important as the song itself, because without that context, he notes that they are no longer his songs. He goes on to say: "Art without curation or creation without witness leaves a work mute."

To that sentiment, it is easy for me to rustle up an "Amen".
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