Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Opportunity: Call for 7th Summer Seminars for Art Curators 2013

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, March 29. 2013 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Call for 7th Summer Seminars for Art Curators 2013
To Perform And To Curate: Between Two Practices of Constitution August 12-18th, 2013 Yerevan, Armenia

We are delighted to announce the next edition of the Seminars’ Program organised in collaboration with Eastern European Performing Arts Platform.

The curatorial practice in today’s understanding has evolved within the discipline of visual arts throughout the twentieth century. Thus far it has expanded from exhibition making practices to incorporate design of art educational initiatives and organization of archives and libraries. But curating has also expanded to previously unreached disciplinary domains to the extent that in 2000s one can speak of curating poetry, music and performing arts as a whole.

The roots of these expansions can be sought not simply in the ever-increasing pressure to synchronize creative industries with the development of information technologies which result in the demand for proliferation of administrative and managerial mediation between art and its audiences. One could claim that the expansion of curatorial work to include other spheres of creative practice is also due to a performativity embedded in curatorial work since the curator constantly deals with institutions, audiences and artists and mediates between them. Thus, the curator works within and (re)produces certain social and cultural constructs while often resisting those constructs and proposing new modes of relationality. Ultimately, curating is a constitutive practice that participates in the construction of artistic and receptive subjects. The curator neither fully identifies with the creative practice of the artist, nor with the publics. Instead, she occupies a discrete, but shifting place between the artist and the audience while performing the tasks of mediation, translation and representation with tools and methods that she implicitly or explicitly employs for the re-constitutions of subjectivities.

Given the growing examples of curating performative practices internationally, the 7th edition of the Summer Seminars for Art Curators in 2013 invites applicants to join the organizers in exploring the double notion of performativity, on the example of curatorial practices: curating as a constitutive practice that deals with desires, identities, subjectivities as well as curating performance art—a practice that has emerged and institutionalized in the sphere of multidisciplinary art only recently. We would like to investigate the intersections of the two modes of performativity and some of the possible emancipatory implications of such intersections. The Summer Seminars invites art theoreticians, artists and curators of various artistic disciplines to discuss different performative practices both inside and outside of the boundaries of art institutions. The program combines lectures with seminar discussions and performative events.

The Seminars are free of charge. The participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. To apply, please send your application that includes a CV, a statement of interest and a writing sample to Harutyun Alpeyan to the following address [email protected] by April 30th, 2013.

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Opportunity: Summer Seminars for Art Curators, Yerevan

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Wednesday, March 2. 2011 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

The application date for this opportunity has passed.

Summer Seminars for Art Curators
Yerevan, Armenia
The Institutional and Ideological Operation of Transnational Art Event

The 1989 Fall of Berlin Wall did not only mark the collapse of the ideologically bipolar world order and the start of the triumphant rhetoric of global capitalism but also the leveling of contemporary art practices, representational mechanisms and institutional structures. The historical collapse of state socialism also designated the breakdown of an art system that relied on non-market driven consumption and circulation. The unofficial art practices heretofore evolving behind the Iron Curtain found a comfortable shelter in various transnational biennials, art festivals, fairs, collections and discursive events mushrooming since the 1990s.

The transnational art events are no longer exhibitions in a traditional sense of art representation, but these are global events that are also evolving in extra artistic domains that include discussions, educational programs, networking and so on. "Global" and mobile artists and curators, leaving the imprint of thousands of carbon traces, fly from Moscow to Venice, from Sao Paolo to Seoul and from Gyumri to Beirut in order to share the latest discursive vogue and the representational paradigm, the possible potential of radical political art as well as the latest curatorial stratagems and artistic debuts.

Then, what are those mechanisms, systems and ideologies of contemporary art representation that construct the global art event in the transnational framework? How does this framework impact certain local contexts? How is the aesthetical value being constructed and articulated through such events?

By proposing the above outlined framework, the 6th edition of the International Summer Seminars for Curators in Yerevan is initiating a series of seminars, lectures, discussions and public reading groups that aim at questioning the economic, political and ideological bases of constructing the global art event on one hand, and the participation of the contemporary art scene in Armenia in those events on the other hand.

Coinciding with the 54th Venice Biennial of 2011, where three Armenian curators are representing three artists, a series of events is aimed at addressing the role of global art events in reshaping Armenia’s cultural policy. We will refer to the history of Armenia's participation in the Biennial and its ideological and cultural-political implications. Hence, the most important issue that we would like to propose relates to the role of the curator, its purpose and function in relation both to the local scene and the ongoing international redefinitions of the curator within the framework of transnational art events.

The aim of the program is twofold: to discuss a timely issue in the international arena and at the same time address the experience of participation of the local context in transnational art events. Further, we would like to extend these questions to discuss issues related to the impact of these events on cultural policy and institutional politics in the field of contemporary art.

The program invites international and local curators, theorists, artists and cultural operators including those directly involved in the development of cultural policy to participate in the following events:

a. Lectures will be conducted by local and international theorists, who will present various aspects of economic, political, ideological and aesthetic analysis of transnational art events.

b. Seminar discussions intend to propose and discuss topics related to the general conceptual framework proposed by the organizers. By developing a clear framework of issues these discussions will touch upon both local and international institutional policies that are being developed in response to transnational art events. The participants are local artists, curators, critics, the participants of the graduate program of Art Criticism and Curatorial Studies as international participants of the Summer Seminars’ Program.

c. Reading sessions are dedicated to active reading and discussion of specific subject-related texts that will be conducted by Angela Harutyunyan. These sessions will be held in various public places in Yerevan and are to establish a direct link between the text and the natural-architectural environment. Readings will be literally localized. The participants include the students of the graduate program of Art Criticism and Curatorial Studies as international participants of the Summer Seminars’ Program.

To apply, please, send a CV, a Statement of Interest (approximately 1000 words) and a writing sample (a review, a curatorial statement or an art critical piece, approximately 1500-2000 words) to Angela Harutyunyan (angela.harutyunyan -at- and Taguhi Torosyan (tag.torosyan -at- by April 1st, 2011. AICA-Armenia does not provide grants to cover travel expenses.

However, limited grants to cover accommodation can be obtained on the basis of the merit of the application. We encourage you to apply for external funding sources. Participation is free of charge.

The program is supported by:
The Open Society Institute
Prince Claus Foundation
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Summer Seminars for Art Curators 2010 Report

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Sunday, September 12. 2010 • Category: Musings

Recently I attended the Summer Seminars for Art Curators, which is hosted annually by AICA-Armenia. We spent three days in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, and a further four days in Ijevan, in the north near the border with Azerbaijan and Georgia. The themes of the two seminar events were “Aesthetic Communities and Contextual Translation of Communal Art” and “The Communal Function of a Monument”.

Armenia is a fascinating country, but I will not go into too much in detail about it here. However, it must be said that the post-Soviet-ness of Yerevan is striking, and the beauty of the countryside is extraordinary. It was wonderful to get to see both Yerevan and Ijevan, and all the landscape and important points of interest in between.

Yerevan railway station

The first day of seminars was held in the "Bangladesh" neighbourhood of Yerevan. Kicking off the lecture programme was Dr. Margarita Tupitsyn discussing Russian Art as a Sisyphean Project, followed by Dr. Vardan Azatyan presenting Myths and Visions of Artistic Avant-gardes in Armenia. In the evening at The Club, Marlène Perronet and Elke Krasny presented, while Adnan Yıldız and Aykan Safoğlu were Skyped in. The following day, the keynote presentation was by Victor Tupitsyn, followed by evening presentations by myself, Joanna Warsza, and Ida Hirschenfelder. 

My presentation was entitled "The Transient and Mutable Monument", and argued for the development of a framework for producing "open source" monuments in public space. My thoughts were very much inspired by the work of Estonian artist Kristina Norman, and also referenced Antony Gormley’s recent work, One and Other on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Both projects illustrated the importance of site for monuments more than the actual monument itself. Taken together, Norman and Gormley’s projects represent a uniquely contemporary re-thinking of the ways in which monuments can be viewed both as art objects and as modes of interaction for all.

Earlier that day we had an informal round table:


Over conversations at the top of the Cascades monument in Yerevan, or later on, at the local riverside bar in Ijevan, I discovered the issues confronting the artists in the Caucasus region were the same as everywhere else (of course), except that the silent presence of the monumental past (usually hulking there in the form of Soviet architecture) framed the present inexorably. It's fashionable to sneer about starchitects, but our built environment really does impact how we conceive of ourselves and how we work.

After these quick two days, which covered territory ranging from the contested nature of public space to contextualisation of art made in the Soviet era, we were then off to Ijevan, in the north.


It's hard to describe how interesting it is, and good it is, for any curator to escape the cushy embrace of whatever it is they are used to, and end up at a seminar where you are in a town of about twenty thousand souls, at an exhibition opening with pickles and salami sandwiches being served, followed by an open air concert where a local rock band is covering tunes by 90s era riot grrl rock outfit Babes in Toyland. Toto, we aren't in Amsterdam anymore.

Our ever-honest and vigilant Armenian friends told us that the Ijevan townspeople were puzzled by our presence, which underscored (for me, at least) the purpose of our seminars and gathering. While all of the scheduled talks were interesting in their own way, the best aspect of this or any seminar is the interaction with the other participants, in the tiny temporary community we create. So of course the townspeople of Ijevan wondered why we were there -- because at that point, we were already deep into the process of getting to know each other, and besides had little time outside our schedule to get to know the town. The town was an aspect of our experience, but not the central aspect, and so it made sense that the townspeople felt outside of it. Recognising this mild alienation also meshed perfectly with our ongoing discussion into contextual communities and visual art.

The participants were: Elke Krasny (Austria), Armenak Grigoryan (Armenia), Michelle Kasprzak (Netherlands), Karin Grigoryan (Armenia), Xenia Nikolskaya (Sweden/Egypt), Arevik Grigoryan (Armenia), Marlène Perronet (France), Harutyun Alpetyan (Armenia), Adnan Yildiz (Turkey), Carmen De Michele (Germany), Gor Engoyan (Armenia), Nvard Yerkanian (Armenia), Natuka Vatsadze (Georgia), Liana Khachatryan (Armenia), Viviana Checchia (Italy), Sona Melik-Karamyan (Armenia), Ida Hirsenfelder (Slovenia), Pau cata i Marles (Catalan/Spain), Taguhi Torosyan (Armenia). Volunteers and free participants included: Shoair Mavlian (UK/Australia), Özge Çelikaslan (Turkey), Emanuele Braga (Italy), Maddalena Fragnito (Italy), Narek Tovmasyan (Armenia).

Presentations given over the course of the seminars will soon be shared, and when I have permission to share those, I will, in a new post, with further information on the overall programme.

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