Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Pick 'N Mix #37

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, April 18. 2010 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
- A great upcoming event in beautiful Edinburgh for your diaries: Radical Complicities, Curating Art in the 21st Century. Saturday 1st May 2010, speakers include: Beatrice von Bismarck (Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig), Nav Haq (Arnolfini, Bristol), Maria Lind (Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, USA), Sarah Lowndes (Independent Curator, Glasgow), Bojana Pejic (Independent Curator, Berlin). Introduced and chaired by Angela Dimitrakaki and Kirsten Lloyd (The University of Edinburgh). Organised by The University of Edinburgh and presented in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland, this conference brings together leading figures in the field to consider the potential and limitations of recent and emergent curatorial paradigms in contemporary art.

- Two new issues of "On Curating" are out, featuring interviews with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Paul O’Neill, Simon Sheikh, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Ian White, Katerina Gregos, and many more. The issues are themed around curating film, and the political potential of curating.

- If you are based in or happen to be in New York, see if you can catch up with the fine folk of CRUMB as they promote their new Rethinking Curating book with talks and high tea.

- More interviews and news stories I found around the web: a great story about boom and bust times in the art world with Neville Wakefield, one of the three-person curatorial team behind "Greater New York 2010" which opens on May 23rd; an interview with Victoria Lynn, visual arts curator of the Adelaide Arts Festival (click on "Show Transcript"), discussing her favourite artwork and art trends; and a story on Creative Time's plans for expansion and a focus away from "biennialism", with great quotes from both Anne Pasternak and Nato Thompson.

- "Curating as institutional critique?", an event at the Documenta Hallen in Kassel last month, was a symposium to discuss critical curating, how curating can be relevant in a socio-political sense, and how it can change or re-shape structures. This report gives insight into the discussions that happened there.
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Call for abstracts: Are Curators Unprofessional?

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, April 15. 2010 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Symposium: November 12–14, 2010
Banff International Curatorial Institute
The Banff Centre

Deadline: April 23, 2010

Curating contemporary art is, by nature, a field demarcated by flux and change, and thus remains to a great extent - and perhaps by necessity - an improvised and unregulated practice. In recent decades, however, it has experienced an unprecedented turn toward professionalization; the proliferation of curatorial and museum studies programs alone are evidence of this shift. We have also witnessed culture’s turn toward festivalization, of which the worldwide vogue for biennials is an example. In this context the profession and authority of the curator have undergone a simultaneous expansion and diminishment. Twenty years on, after the introduction of the first curatorial studies programs, there now exists an expansive curatorial class, which must contend with this unstable identity that persists between practice and profession.

In November 2010, The Banff Centre will host Are Curators Unprofessional?, the latest in the ongoing series of BICI symposia, which will examine the curator’s complex and changing relationship to notions of professionalism, expertise, ethics and modes of conduct. Developed in collaboration with Scott Watson from the University of British Columbia and Barbara Fischer from the University of Toronto, this symposium will provide a forum for leading international curators, museum professionals, educators, art historians, critics, students and artists to discuss and debate key issues in this area.

The panel Are Curators Unprofessional (Enough)? will analyze moments of crisis in the profession and ask: When is it necessary to be (un)professional? What issues exist within a field that is demarcated by instability? In the following Craftwork session, panelists will analyze the craft of exhibition making, by examining exhibitions that have provoked paradigm shifts. Is curating a trade or craft, rather than a profession? What skills must a curator possess? Which exhibitions have provoked paradigm shifts? The Catalogue is Out! session will scrutinize the emergence of curatorial writing as a genre and question its unique position and function in relation to art criticism and art history. What, if any, is the function of the catalogue? How does it mediate between the work of art and the world? What is the difference between criticism, curatorial writing and art history? Lastly, the Judge and Jury panel will illuminate the politics of taste, consider the ramifications of judgment with respect to curating and identify the continual attempt to re-distribute the power of judgment.

Submit a 200-word abstract and short CV to:

Banff International Curatorial Institute
The Banff Centre
Box 1020, 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr
Banff, AB, T1L 1H5
Email: VA_Admin -at-

We encourage submissions from young scholars, including graduate and PhD students. Please submit a 200 abstract and short CV to [email protected] by April 23, 2010, 5:00 p.m. All contributors should include their name, address, telephone number and email address.

Please note this event is funding dependent.

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Pick 'N Mix #36

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, March 17. 2010 • Category: Pick 'N Mix
Welcome to another edition of Pick 'N Mix, my collections of links and news relevant to curators.

- Let's start with the slightly strange: On Yahoo! HotJobs, an article with the headline "Starving Artist? Not with These Well-Paid Creative Jobs" rhymes off a list of jobs deemed appropriate for artists to do in order to remain "creative" but also put food on the table should earnings from their artwork be a bit scant. Listing "Museum Curator" as a job that could net you $48,300 USD per year, it also characterises the job as "...unlike personality-driven jobs like interior design or fashion design, this is an area where introverted types can really excel." Visual arts career coach Rod Berg backs this up by saying, "Your personality doesn't have to be as bubbly. You can be more studious." This article seemed to be attempting (and in my view, failing) to put a positive spin on the "curator as failed artist" cliche that I also noted was present in the interview with Francesco Bonami in the last Pick 'N Mix. While it isn't the case that curatorial careers are the only ones that end up becoming stereotyped, the stereotypes that do surface in connection with curatorial work are pretty tired and in line with grave misconceptions around the accessibility of contemporary art in general.

- Of course, the stereotype of the reclusive, eccentric and bookish museum curator is one side of the coin, and the brash, self-promoting, celebrity curator is the opposite end of the spectrum of stereotypes. Or, you can shortcut directly to the celebrity part of that equation. Basketball star Shaquille O'Neal was invited to curate an exhibit entitled "Size DOES Matter," on view at New York City's FLAG Art Foundation through until May 27. PBS has produced a short clip on the exhibition, "which explores the concept of size through art, [and] features pieces such as Ron Mueck's "Big Man" sculpture and tiny versions of O'Neal and the Obama family in the eye of a needle, conceived by artist Willard Wigan. Other artists represented include Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, Elizabeth Peyton, Corban Walker and Cindy Sherman." The bio on the FLAG Foundation website lists Shaq's many accomplishments, however, a passion for art is not among them. Which begs the question: if you are going to engage a celebrity with no art credentials to curate for you, was it not possible to find one who at least is publicly noted as being passionate about contemporary art?

- "Art fairs are becoming more curatorial and biennials more commercial." Fons Hof, Director Art Rotterdam.

- File under diplomacy in action: Julie Jacobson, the wife of U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, has struck out on her own, and curated (the Globe and Mail says "put together") an exhibit combining Canadian and American landscape artists for the official residence. "The guidelines state that art in official residences must be works by U.S. citizens, either native or naturalized. Ms. Jacobson says she was interested in building on some of the political themes of President Barack Obama, seizing on his idea of "finding common ground with our neighbours." She asked for special dispensation from State Department officials – saying that the way to find common ground was to also display Canadian artists. They agreed. The result is a 17-piece collection – eight of which are paintings from Canadian artists – called Common Ground: American and Canadian Landscape Painting. Ms. Jacobson says she chose to focus on the period around the 1920s when Canadian and American artists were beginning to discover the beauty in their own backyards." I thought this was a sweet gesture on Ms Jacobson's part.

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Opportunity: Curatorial bursaries, One Day Sculpture

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Thursday, February 5. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities
Litmus with the support of Creative New Zealand is pleased to announce two bursaries for the forthcoming One Day Sculpture Symposium.

The bursaries, each of which provide $600 for travel costs and symposium registration, are specifically designed for emerging curators who would otherwise be unable to cover the costs associated with travel to Wellington to attend the symposium.

Applications are invited from New Zealand based curators who are not directly involved in One Day Sculpture. Each curator is asked to submit a one page description/ expression of interest as to how there curatorial practice might benefit from attendance at the symposium. Litmus will convene a panel, including an established curator, to determine which applicants have best made the case for the awarding of a bursary.

Applications close on Monday March 2.
Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 6 March.

For further information or to apply for a bursary, please contact:

Hannah Edmunds
Symposium Administrator
Litmus Research Initiative
Massey University School of Fine Arts
Private Box 756
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

H.L.Edmunds -at-

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Opportunity: ICF Bursaries to attend Tate Symposium

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, January 2. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

6 bursaries of £250 each for travel and accomodation expenses to attend the Tate Symposium on Contempory Art in the Middle East on 22 and 23 January 2009 are available to UK based curators.

Please send your applications digitally to: info -at-

Deadline for applications is the 8 January 2008. The ICF advisory board will meet to review the applications on 9 January 2009. Successful applicants will be notified immediately.

The criteria for selection are:
- A track record of curating international artists (minimum of 3 shows).
- A strong interest in the aesthetics and ethics of global curatorial development.
- A collaborative approach to sharing knowledge and expertise.
- A strong written proposal of an ambitious project, which would benefit from the research opportunity of being part of the ICF.

Contemporary Art in the Middle East: A Two-Day Symposium at Tate Britain and Tate Modern

Defining the Middle East How do we define the Middle East? Can the Middle East be understood as a fixed physical entity or is it a dynamic and shifting definition, moulded by changing historical, social and political realities? What place does the diaspora play in defining contemporary Middle Eastern culture? This session investigates contemporary and historical definitions of the Middle East and how these impact on the making and distribution of art.

Writing and Translation: How does the interpretation and contextualisation of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East effect its understanding at home and abroad? What is lost in the process of translation and how can it be reclaimed to encourage deeper and more nuanced readings? This session explores writing on art and translation as well as broader issues of access and interpretation.

Art Now: Recent Exhibitions: There has been a proliferation of exhibitions of contemporary Middle Eastern art both in the region and abroad. This session will be dedicated to presentations by curators and artists reflecting on recent exhibitions and curatorial projects. Speakers include: Stuart Comer, Suzanne Cotter, Catherine David, November Paynter, Khalil Rabah and Andrew Renton.

Tradition and Modernity: What were the specific conditions out of which modern and contemporary art emerged in the Middle East? How have ideas about tradition and modernity played out within this context? This session looks at how definitions of tradition and modernity have shifted over time and in different national contexts in the Middle East.

The Politics of Space: What will be the impact of new and emerging spaces for seeing and exhibiting modern and contemporary art in different parts of the Middle East? This session looks at the spatial politics of art in the Middle East from major architectural developments in the Gulf such as Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi to more fluid institutional spaces for art such as the Sharjah Biennial and the ‘Home Works’ international forum in Beirut.

For more information, please see:

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Digital Curatorship: Public Programming in the Information Age

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Tuesday, February 5. 2008 • Category: Announcements
Digital Curatorship: Public Programming in the Information Age is a Connecting Principle event at Culture Lab, Newcastle University, organised in collaboration with the School of Arts and Cultures, 12th February 2008.

This mini-symposium is an opportunity to engage with the constantly evolving nature of practice in the curatorship of digital and new media art. We (Newcastle University) aim to do this by bringing together some of the different constituencies at work in the field both in the North East and beyond, and by providing a platform for different perspectives and informed debate. The event will comprise a series of short presentations from practitioners within the field followed by wider panel discussions including further invited participants.

Likely themes/questions to be addressed might include:

- The natures and identities of digital curatorship (products and processes, changing ideas of the 'artwork'/'artefact', visitor experiences)
- Different professional perspectives on digital curatorship and programming, e.g. those of the artist, artist-curator, curator, technician, educator, artist-educator, conservator, academic etc.
- Digital art and sound/music
- Digital curatorship/programming, installation and site specificity
- Net art and the gallery/exhibition
- Digital curatorship/programming in urban contexts
- Conserving and managing new media in art museum/gallery and exhibition contexts

Speakers include: Chris Whitehead, Michelle Kasprzak, Alistair Robinson, Kirk Woolford, Sarah Cook,
Atau Tanaka, Beryl Graham, Sally Jane Norman.

The panel discussions will pick up and expand upon key themes, issues and ideas which emerge in the preceding talks and will allow for dialogue between speakers and audience members.

The event is linked into the curricula for the postgraduate programmes in Art Museum and Gallery Studies and Art Museum and Gallery Education, but is also open more generally: to staff and students from other programmes, other universities, artists and cultural sector professionals from the region and beyond.

The proceedings may be disseminated in various ways -- through digital recording and streaming and possibly through web or print publication.

Register to attend this free event here.

Culture Lab
Connecting Principle
Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies
Fine Art Department
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