Views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix - October 2007

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, October 1. 2007 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to the October edition of Pick 'N Mix, my monthly annotated list of bite-sized items that have captured my attention recently.
  • The "five questions" format for an interview seems to be as popular as ever. Here are two that have caught my eye: five questions for Matthew Higgs, guest curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, and five questions for Ou Ning, founding curator of the Get It Louder exhibition, a four-city showcase that explores the increasingly blurry line between art and design in China.

  • This little morsel is stretching the mandate of this blog a little, but I thought I'd include it here anyway: William Gibson, godfather of cyberspace, recently (and very briefly) mused in an interview on the idea of "curating" via eBay. As Gibson says: "Every hair is being numbered -- eBay has every grain of sand. eBay is serving this very, very powerful function which nobody ever intended for it. eBay in the hands of humanity is sorting every last Dick Tracy wrist radio cereal premium sticker that ever existed. It's like some sort of vast unconscious curatorial movement." The interview is available on the Washington Post website. (via ExhibiTricks)

  • This UNESCO position paper gives a good overview on how the role of the museum in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage was considered at the expert meeting that took place in 2004. The paper deals with this subject in very plain English and raises some very interesting points. One of the most thought-provoking segments for me was this bit:
    Museums are already, in this sense, involved with living heritage: collections that look dead to us in their depots and showcases may be very much alive to descendents widely separated in space and time from this material and conventional ways of dealing with it. And here is a conundrum: if the dead collections in museums (dead, anyway, except to the few who can lay hands on them!) can 'come alive' under certain circumstances, can currently ‘living cultural heritage’ die (inadvertently) if it is musealised in a certain way? What does it mean to speak of ‘safeguarding’ living heritage when the outcome of musealisation is so unpredictable?

  • "How Many More Curators Will Leave the Trade?" cries the headline at the Art Newspaper. The article discusses a perceived "brain drain" from the curatorial roles at museums, because of low salaries and increasing pressure to fundraise and deliver outside of job descriptions. True or false? Read the article, and you be the judge. This article is no longer available, because the Art Newspaper keeps their archived articles for paying subscribers only. It appears that even an abstract of the article is unavailable without paying - how disappointing.
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