Welcome to January’s Pick ‘N Mix. I hope all readers had a great holiday and have big plans for 2009!

– Whether you have big plans for 2009 or not, here are some possible dates for your calendar: March 5-7, 2009. The excellent Witte de With contemporary art centre in Rotterdam is holding a symposium entitled “The Curators”. It sounds terrific, especially the way they have balanced the programme of speakers. From their promotional text: “The practice of curating is a much discussed topic within the art world, but is often neglected by the media and thus remains largely invisible to the broader public. With our selection of speakers, we aim to put a wide range of faces to the often elusive and contested title of curator. Invited guests include freelancers, artist/curators and others fulfilling hybrid roles, curators working inside and outside of art institutions, those responsible for major international art events and those working on an intentionally local scale.” For more info, check out the Witte de With’s website.

This recent interview with Ami Barak, the curator of ArtFocus 5, is especially relevant given the major news headlines of the moment on the escalating violence between Israel and Palestine. The article states: “When one is curating a large art exhibition in Jerusalem […] One must deal with the conflicts this city generates for those working in it.” Later, the curator says: “All the Palestinians we had invited didn’t want to come – those from the territories and those with Israeli citizenships. They told us that they didn’t wish to participate in an exhibition being held in 2008, Israel’s 60th anniversary, and also because the exhibition was being held in Jerusalem. […] I’m not criticizing them. They fear being a victim of manipulation and that they would be used for propaganda and demagogy, I can understand that.” This is a fascinating interview that highlights the political role of the curator in a very candid way.

– The deadline for the De Appel curatorial programme in Amsterdam is fast approaching – January 31!

– A fascinating discussion about artist/curator ethics has been developing on the CRUMB mailing list. The debate covers the perennial topic of ethics around artists who also work as curators (and vice versa), and the methods of selection for exhibitions that are employed by such hybrid workers. You can read the thread online, although I highly recommend subscribing and also checking out CRUMB’s work online!

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