Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix - July 2009

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, July 2. 2009 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to July's Pick 'N Mix!

- This report on a curatorial summit at the Banff Centre for the Arts appears to have slipped past my radar when it first came out, but thankfully Leah Sandals (the author of the report) mentioned it again recently. Trade Secrets: Swapping Curatorial Confidences was a summit held in late 2008 with eminent curators in the field, including Matthew Higgs, Mark Mayer, Richard Flood, Sabine Breitwieser and many more. At one point in the report, Sandals quotes Barbican curator Francesco Manacorda, saying he was "very frightened about many curatorial projects having as an audience colleagues only. [...] very often in curating, people disregard one of the two final clients of the curator—the public or the artist" -- a concern I agree with and touched on in my "For What and For Whom?" essay.

- If you're keen to participate in debates and discussions, LabforCulture is producing three online discussions that are sure to provide stimulating platforms for exchange. "Converging Pathways to New Knowledge" promises to unpick some juicy topics on knowledge sharing in the cultural domain through live online debates taking place on the 7th, 8th, and 13th of July. While you're browsing their site, if you are also a cultural blogger, why not add yourself to their growing map?

- Jerry Saltz describes "the curator problem" in a recent article. The "problem" as he sees it is illustrated in the exhibitions curated by Birnbaum at the Venice Biennale, which in Saltz's words are "full of the reflexive conceptualism that artists everywhere now produce because other artists everywhere produce it (and because curators curate it). Almost all of this art comments on art, institutions or modernism. Basically, curators seem to love video, text, explanations, things that are "about" something, art that references Warhol or Prince, or that makes sense; they seem to hate painting, things that don’t make sense or that involve overt materiality, physicality, color or strangeness." This call for further risk-taking by Saltz is consistent with his other campaigns and appeals to curators. There is a long but fascinating account of his encounter with Ann Temkin, Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA available online which also presses for diversification and risk-taking: "MoMA desperately needs this to play with its collection. [...] Beuys, Nauman, and Hesse are all bona fide top-dogs; the A-list as art history. I love them all but curators have to take more chances and not just default to the same artists. Other artists were working at extremely high levels in the late 1960s." I admire Saltz's integrity -- not only is he consistent in his arguments, but I think it's a rare art critic that would go out with a high-ranking curator for the sole purpose of having a serious collegial debate -- and Temkin is to be commended too, for taking Saltz up on his invitation.

- On a personal note, I'm quite busy converting my Master's thesis on the voice, performance and technology into a book. Despite that, plus my regular job, plus a bit of summer holiday too, I hope to soon post some (long-overdue, and sitting at 99% completion) interviews and book reviews. Stay tuned!

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