Curating.info

Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Pick 'N Mix #39

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, June 30. 2010 • Category: Pick 'N Mix

- David Barrie recently gave a thought-provoking lecture entitled "A Bigger Picture: why contemporary art curators need to get out more". He describes why a heritage-oriented mindset can result in constrained collections, noting that: "Despite our long colonial history and our rich links with countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean [...] visitors to museums and galleries in the UK have remarkably few opportunities to see art that is being produced in countries that lie outside the narrow confines of the so-called 'international contemporary art world'." He also skewers the myopic tendencies of some curators who "... neglect art that does not fit comfortably into their intellectual categories". He calls for curators to "get out more", escape the bonds of insularity, and be brave by broadening their own horizons. The text is simultaneously a call to action and an examination of conscience.

- A great interview with Carolee Thea by Richard J. Goldstein that reveals some of her thoughts on the biennial ("an exhibition structure beyond itself, an event that allows for very difficult subject matter"; "Its function, as defined by planners and curators, is to add intellectual capital"; "a component in spreading visual literacy"; etc) and the art market ("artists and curators are unavoidably affected by the onslaught of art fairs and consumerism"). (Thea's recent book of interviews with prominent curators, On Curating: Interviews with Ten International Curators also looks quite good.)

- "I'm not against the market. It's just that I'm against the way the market is overdetermining the art complex at the moment," Vasif Kortun says. "At the same time, we know full well that we provide almost a recruitment ground or a research and progress for the market at the same time. It would be quite ridiculous to say that the biennale is completely alien and independent of the market and its interests."

- Francesco Bonami once said "In theory now you could curate a whole Venice Biennale using only the Internet". The Guggenheim takes a few steps in that direction with YouTube Play, a contest to find the best online video works. Submitted videos will be assessed by a jury and the winners will be exhibited at Guggenheim Museums around the world, and of course, on YouTube.

- An article by Janine Armin on the New York Times articulates the current precarious position freelance curators find themselves in, and identifies the growth of biennials as a particular bright spot in opportunities for freelancers. I found Nicola Trezzi's article describing the growth of artist-curated exhibitions in FlashArt a good complement to Armin's article. While Armin's article quoted established curators explaining why freelancers are still very much necessary (even if it is difficult to be one), Trezzi's article can be viewed as taking those statements even further, reminding us of the multiplicity of reasons why or how someone would curate an exhibition, how it's a creative act in itself, and the value of the artist-curator viewpoint.

More podcasts

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Saturday, November 22. 2008 • Category: Reviews & Resources
The San Francisco Art Institute has a podcast series entitled "Dialogues". Two podcasts in this series may interest Curating.info readers: one featuring Laura Hoptman, and another featuring Carlos Basualdo.

Laura Hoptman curated the 2004 Carnegie International exhibition in Pittsburgh and Drawing Now: Eight Propositions at the Museum of Modern Art, Queens. In her talk, Hoptman discusses her interest in artwork that explores big questions: those of life, death, and the meaning of the universe. Carlos Basualdo is the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and an Adjunct Professor at the IUAV University in Venice, Italy. He was a co-founder (with Hans Ulrich Obrist) of the Union of the Imaginary, an online forum for the discussion of issues pertaining to curatorial practice. These podcasts are long and feature lengthy introductions, so better to listen to these when you have a bit of time.

Veteran podcasters Bad at Sports teamed up with Side Street Projects to present a 10-part podcast series entitled "What Do Curators Want?" that covers best professional practices for contemporary visual artists. While the podcasts are definitely aimed at artists (and give some terrific concrete tips to artists), the messages about professional practices are often applicable both ways. Far from theoretical talks, these short, practical discussions might be useful to curators too. Of particular interest may be hearing how the featured curators in these podcasts discuss perennial issues such as artistic quality and different types of exhibitions and exhibition venues. Compare their views to yours!

Frieze Foundation (the good folks who bring us the Frieze Art Fair, Frieze Magazine, and other goodies) also have a great podcast series. One of their recent podcasts, Cultural Cartography: Does Art Travel? is a discussion chaired by Philippe Vergne (new director of the DIA Art Foundation in NYC, former Chief Curator and Deputy Director, Walker Art Center) focusing on whether art can really speak across borders. What happens when the local becomes global? Vergne, in his introduction, questions whether we are really taking advantage of international connections and jokes that this podcast could have alternatively been titled "Pasta or chicken?", echoing that familiar refrain on long haul flights. It's a strong panel and well worth downloading.

Happy listening!
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