Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

...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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Curatorial training programme at De Appel

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 14. 2007 • Category: Announcements
De Appel is a contemporary arts centre, located in the heart of Amsterdam. Over the 25 years of its existence it has been operating on an international level and for 10 years de Appel has been running a renowned Curatorial Training Programme.

In September 2007, the new version of the eight - month long Curatorial Programme of de Appel, with a renewed curriculum and an extended tutorial team will start. Initiated in 1994, the course wishes to offer young curators a condensed package of experiences and skills which can be used as tools and instruments during the further development of their professional career.

This year an international selection committee, chaired by Ann Demeester, director of de Appel and Head of the programme, selects about 6 participants of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.


1. A letter of motivation in which what your personal drive and what you expect from the programme is stated.
2. A proposal for a show (5-15 pages), including: concept and location of the show (main focus), the participating artists (including some image material), a budget of the show, a publicity plan (not obliged)
3. A CV, including an extensive description of one's relevant working experience
4. Two written references of (former) tutors, professors or employers, in English.

On the basis of the submitted documents a pre-selection is made in February. Approximately ten candidates will be shortlisted; they are invited to come to Amsterdam in the end of February or beginning of March for an interview.

Application deadline: 31 January 2007

Send completed applications (in duplicate) to:
de Appel
Att: Roos Gortzak, CTP 07/08
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 10
1017 DE Amsterdam
The Netherlands

For further information please visit our website: Or contact Roos Gortzak on + 31 (0) 20 6255215, roosgortzak -at-
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Residency opportunities at Elsewhere

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, January 14. 2007 • Category: Announcements
Though at first blush this opportunity may seem to be exclusively for artists, not curators, Collaborative Director of Elsewhere George Scheer tells me that one way to approach this unique residency is to tackle the " as medium and artist as curator within a site-specific and always changing environment".

The opportunity sounds very intriguing and open. Check out the short description below, but do visit their site to obtain further details.

Elsewhere, a living installation, museum of process, and art production space in downtown Greensboro, NC, is seeking artists-in-residence for its Spring, Summer, and Fall 2007 residency seasons. Set within a former thrift store housing a 58-year inventory of American surplus, thrift, and antiques, Elsewhere invites artists-in-residence to utilize the immense collection of objects to pursue site-specific material, conceptual, and/or technologically-based projects. Elsewhere’s building—two full stores on the ground level, a 14-room boarding house on the second, and warehouse on the third—provides dynamic architectures for the creation and installation of works. Artists live and work within changing installations, engaging interactive environments for re-conceptualizing the theory and practice of art-making. Experimenting with museum-as-medium within a store where nothing is for sale, Elsewhere offers an unparalleled framework for merging art practice and everyday life. The complete call for artists is available here. Elsewhere is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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Job: Assistant Curator at Tate Modern

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, January 13. 2007 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
Job Title: Assistant Curator
Organisation: Tate
Salary: £21,000 p.a.
Type: Full-Time Position; Contract: up to 12 months (Two posts are available, one permanent and one temporary to cover maternity leave.)
Location: London, England
Closing Date: Friday, January 19th, 2007

This is a fantastic opportunity to use your proven experience and broad knowledge of twentieth century and contemporary art to join us and contribute to keeping our exhibitions & displays as fresh and exciting as possible.

Tate’s mission is to increase the public’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of art, by displaying a collection of some of the best modern and contemporary art the world has to offer. Since its opening in 2000, Tate Modern’s programme of major temporary exhibitions, collection displays commissions and projects has developed in diversity, scope and profile.

Required Skills:
With proven experience in a relevant field, a degree in a relevant subject and a broad knowledge of twentieth century and contemporary art (and ideally an MA) this is an excellent opportunity for you to join us in contributing to the development organisation, and management of exhibitions and displays projects.

As either a permanent member of our team, or as our temporary Assistant Curator (for maternity cover), your main responsibility will be to co-ordinate the delivery of these displays and exhibitions, using your outstanding administrative and organisational skills to communicate effectively between departments ensuring projects are delivered successfully, on time and on budget. As well as maintaining documentation and administration and being on hand to plan and manage loan requests and provide research for the larger exhibitions, you’ll liaise between many different colleagues and contractors, from artists and designers to fellow curators, technicians and exhibition sponsors. Your ability to build effective working relationships will make you a valuable team member.

Application Instructions:
To apply, visit our website or email jobs -at- for an application form. You need only submit one application form to be considered for both the permanent and the temporary post. Ref: 6139/TM.

Our jobs are like our galleries. Open to all.
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A lighthearted entry to kick off 2007

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, January 1. 2007 • Category: Musings
Dear readers,
I hope everyone had a restorative and happy holidays.
I'm still easing myself into the new year, and so will make the first entry for 2007 on this blog a lighthearted one.

I propose getting back into (a certain sort) of curatorial headspace by downloading "Curator Defense", a game by David Howe. (It appears to be for PC only).

gHacks describes the game as such:
Pieces of art invade the museum and you have to stop them to prevent them from replacing the master pieces in your museum. It sounds pretty silly but it is actually tremendous fun. You have to place certain structures to slow down and destroy the art that is invading the museum.

The storyline sounds really fun (and perhaps even a bit familiar, to some of us!):
As the longstanding curator of a Museum of Fine Arts, it is your duty to protect the sanctity of its works. Your benefactors stubbornly believe that modern art does not belong in your museum; as your paycheck comes from them, you must uphold their wishes. An association of local curators known as MARTIA (Modern ART Is Art), on the other hand, feels that your museum should reflect a more balanced representation of the art world. [...] Word has reached your museum that tonight is the night MARTIA plans to coordinate a stream of seemingly endless waves of their modern art against your store room. Should any of their work reach your store room, your brain-dead staff will place MARTIA's art on your walls.With an arsenal of their defensive gizmos and gadgets at your side, you should be able to defend your museum. Prevent this attack on your museum from ruining your career; grab your thinking cap and get the job done!

Let me know what you think of the game in the comments.
Happy curating in 2007!
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