Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix - June 2008

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, June 1. 2008 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to the June edition of Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of things that caught my eye over the course of the previous month. It's a real jumble of stuff this month! Check it out:

- Firstly, this recent article in LA Weekly talks about MOCA’s Paul Schimmel and the concept of "curatorial ecstasy". Schimmel recounts a moment wherein he reflects on a mentor moving him "...very quickly from the idea of art museums being places that just maintained a history to the museum as a place where you define culture at the moment [...] It was a very activist, engaged approach, stemming from a belief that to begin to define what later will be understood as the history of your particular moment is one of the richest aspects of being a curator."

- I've just noticed that the Icebox in Philadelphia, USA takes curatorial proposals. It's also one of many curatorial proposals wherein it specifically requests that the curator be present for the installation. What it actually says is this: "Curators may not include their own work in the project/exhibition proposal and are expected to be involved in and on-site during the installation process." This statement leads me to two questions: (1) Have artist/curators not got the message yet that including their own work is beyond tacky?, and (2) Do curators feel they do not need to be involved and engaged in the installation process (possibly one of the most interesting moments in the manifestation of your curatorial concept, except in a few (obvious) cases)? I admire the Icebox folk for laying it on the line, but I have to say that confronting what should be clear points like these makes one wonder about that black, white, and grey area called ethics.

- Again on the notion of ethics, but with a different approach, I was intrigued by this post about intangible digital cultural heritage on iCommons: Sarah Kansa and her husband Eric Kansa head The Alexandria Archive Institute, an institution in digital open access for world cultural heritage. Sarah Kansa writes:

"There is no lack of digital content out there. Each community, institution or individual creating and sharing it needs to also take responsibility for preserving it. Currently, content isolated in silos stands the least chance of survival because of its inaccessibility and the lack of portability and re-usability of content. An open access (and open licensing and open standards) approach will go a long way towards preserving our digital cultural heritage in perpetuity, albeit a few years at a time."

Curators who are in the position of making or breaking accessibility to intangible cultural heritage surely feel this pressure. Are institutions supporting moves towards openness, or do curators have to take the lonely path of advocating this alone?

- I had a wonderful time at the IKT Congress in Montreal, and shortly will be posting a report on the Congress here, so keep your RSS readers and browsers poised at attention!
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