Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

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.

Job: Assistant Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, June 23. 2010 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is seeking an Assistant Curator for the Abu Dhabi Project team. This position is responsible for assisting with the curatorial needs for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project. They include assisting with research and development of exhibitions for the program of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, providing support on the future museum's site-specific commissioning program; conducting research and compiling materials for acquisitions for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; managing curatorial records for exhibitions and collection artworks and artists; administration and coordination of loan requests and exhibition checklists; providing support as needed for exhibitions, museum publications and publicly accessible content in written and electronic form; acting as a curatorial ambassador for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

There are no direct reports associated with this position.

Key Responsibilities:

- Assist with the research, development and successful delivery of the exhibitions and commissioning program for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
- Conduct research on artists and artworks as needed for exhibitions, commissions, acquisitions and publications.
- Maintain research database on artists and works of interest for exhibitions, commissions.
- Develop and maintain curatorial object and artist file including records for exhibitions activity, correspondence with artists and their representatives, museums, galleries and collectors
- Maintain curatorial data in computerized collections management system (TMS) and initiate data entry for exhibitions.
- Assist in all aspects of the exhibitions process including administration of loan requests and negotiations; maintain planning timelines for exhibitions and liaison with exhibitions management, technical and installation teams.
- Assist in budget preparation and management for exhibitions and exhibition-related projects.
- Work with Curator of Exhibitions, Associate Curator for Collections and Exhibitions, Curatorial Assistant and Researcher and other members of the broader Curatorial team, in the preparation of acquisition proposals and acquisition meetings including compiling of dossiers and writing texts on artists and works.
- Participate in regular Guggenheim Abu Dhabi curatorial meetings and Guggenheim departmental meetings.
- Assist the Exhibitions Curator in the preparation of PowerPoint presentations for curatorial, scholarly and external stakeholder meetings.
- Liaise with Education teams on public programs and interpretation materials.
- Assist with preparation and management of catalogue production.
- Compile exhibition catalogue bibliographies and chronologies as directed on a project-by-project basis.
- Work with Publications department to assemble images and texts, and confirm reproduction and copyright permissions for all published material.
- Write short texts on artworks for exhibition wall texts, catalogue entries, and other print and electronic media as called upon.
- Confirm label copy for all works for exhibitions, loans, publications, and educational materials.
- Respond to internal requests for information about exhibitions and commissions.
- General fact checking for the Development department and the Media and Public Relations Department.
- Assist in the supervision of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project interns
- Other projects as assigned.

Qualifications and Requirements:

- M.A. in Art History or the equivalent (defined as at least 3 years prior museum work experience). Majors in other relevant disciplines will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Background in modern and contemporary art with an interest in art from the Middle East
- Previous experience of working in a curatorial department.
- Interest and ability in curatorial research.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- Professional demeanor and diplomatic approach.
- Ability to successfully interact with a wide variety of internal and external individuals, including artists, galleries, donors, and colleagues in the museum field.
- Proficiency in Arabic and one European language desired.
- Knowledge of computer databases and MS Office software
- Writing sample to be provided upon request.

The Guggenheim offers a competitive salary and excellent medical, dental, life insurance, disability and pension plan coverage. Our staff also enjoys generous vacation, sick leave and personal days, access to a variety of cultural institutions, discounts to museum stores and a stimulating and collegial work environment.

Qualified applicants please send your resume and cover letter, including salary expectations, to employment -at- Indicate the job title “Assistant Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project” in the subject line. Only those applicants who meet our requirements for this position will be contacted.

Contextual information:
The new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be located in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, the 450,000-square-foot museum will house its own major modern and contemporary art collection and present special exhibitions that will include works from the Guggenheim Foundation’s extensive collection. The museum, the largest Guggenheim in the world, will have global art, exhibitions, and education programs with particular focus on Middle Eastern contemporary art. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi joins other leading international cultural institutions in the unprecedented creation of a vibrant cultural destination for visitors from around the world.

Suzanne Cotter, Curator of Exhibitions, Abu Dhabi Project, and Reem Fadda, Associate Curator for Middle Eastern Art, Abu Dhabi Project, will join members of the Abu Dhabi Project team to develop future exhibition programming for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and to advise on the creation of its art collection focused on international postwar art.
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