Curating (,) art and ‘knowledge-exchange’

by youwillhearmecall

Judit Bodor

“The problem with curation, is not that it mediates the reception of art (how could the reception of art not be mediated?), but that it so often adopts a position of expertise in a way that implicitly asserts an authority over art. This is the assigned position of curation within the dominant modes of distribution for art: a practice that deals with cultural capital. But this is not the only possibility for curation. (…) A critically self-aware curation would have to enter into a mutual and dialogical relationship with artists. It might not even be clear that such practice would be curation at all. Such practice would have to live with doubt and conflict.”. /Mark Hutchinson/

I first read this quotation in 2007 in a book called ‘Curating Subjects’ edited by Paul O’Neill. I remember thinking finally someone summarised what I was thinking for so long: the im/possibility of defining curating other than authoritative practice. The quotation stuck in my mind and I remind myself of it every time I start a new project.

Today I was thinking about it again…

Shadows of artist and curator, Reginald Street Park, Leeds. Photograph: Judit Bodor.

In curating, the relationships between artists, curators and publics are crucial as it determines the social production of knowledge. The question of ‘who is speaking’, in which location and from which position in discourse, to whom and how many, their status, their authority lies behind the fixed categorisation of difference between “artist” and “curator”.

The normative relationship between curator and artist needs to be variable. It must be able to occupy and generate different models and modes of collaboration, a “mutual and dialogical relationship” that involves “doubt and conflict”.

Is curating a ‘profession’ or can we expand it to describe it as ‘process’ that involves the creativity of whoever is doing it and that is enough?

Should we be against the “division of labour” in art?

How to start collaboration?

How to be a companion?