You are on page 1of 18

Making Tracks: Curation as Frame and Coding

Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez

You have to understand what the curator does to understand in part what you are looking at in an
exhibition. Why does this artist have three rooms and the other have one room; why this one is on
the cover of the catalogue and the other is not? You have to try to understand all of these
decisions that create the context of the art experience, both for looking at it, but also making it, as
the 'consumers' are also the 'producers'.

This quote from Seth Siegelaub, an Amsterdam-based exhibitions organizer pares down the
subject at hand. Making tracks is an outright admission that this is indeed the crux of curation
notwithstanding holdouts that would render the curatorial hand as if it were invisible and
neutral. We establish at the outset that this is the position from which this text proceeds: that
there is no natural order of things and that exhibition-making is just that, made to be consumed,
made to be spewed out as well.

This paper is also premised on the observation that far too much of the local discourse and
general understanding surrounding local exhibition-making has not moved on from the
traditional notions of curation as unadorned stewardship and mere connoisseurship of rarefied
objects. The study is being done precisely in response to how, globally, critical discussions have
long shifted toward how curators and exhibition grammar participate in the framing of audience
reception and the codifying of knowledge.

Having had the opportunity to work with an institutional collection for the past five years
prompts this writer to look upon the curators role in relation to the institution in question (the
Lopez Memorial Museum, hereon LMM), that is, in the crafting of narrative around objects and
their proposed relationship to that which occurs outside the confines of the museum's spaces.
The project at hand does not intend to prop up the case study presented here as if it were a
seminal, would-be model undertaking. Rather, this is an attempt to pose questions to a hopefully
more critically invested audience as opposed to those who may not have a stake in looking at a
single museum as merely a part of a much wider system of agents involved in what Michael
Warner calls world-making.

In truth, it should not take too much probing to reveal that much of the programming that goes
into the exhibit-making that happens in local institutions, such as the Lopez Museum, still draws
from much more pragmatic concerns than that of consciously contributing to the weaving of
history and grand narrativesthere is the constant pressure to popularize or make visible extant
collections, the admittedly unrealizable goal of financial sustainability, and the attendant need to
negotiate with those who would hope to occupy these institutions' physical sites albeit
temporarily but with the clear end view of validating objects, careers, and upping
corporate/diplomatic profiles, and so on.

The paper will primarily be a modest self-reflexive gesture, taking the documentation of a
specific LMM exhibition as primary data subjected to inquiry hinged on icon-making and the
enabling of exploration into counter-narratives. Perhaps too, a study such as this could
contribute to ongoing efforts to reconfigure the UP Department of Art Studies' own museum
studies program, which based on available feedback at the time of writing, still weighs heavily in
the direction of curatorship as custodianship rather than that which more openly reckons with the
now much more widely understood idea of curators and other museum/cultural workers as co-
makers of meaning and invested agents in the contestation of ideas. This is not to say that a
resolutely self-reflexive stream of curation is not being practiced here (take for instance projects
undertaken over the past decade by Patrick Flores and Joselina Cruz, and in varying degrees, that
of an earlier generation of curators such as Corazon Alvina, Marian Pastor Roces, Judy Freya
Sibayan, Roberto Chabet, Bobi Valenzuela, and so on). Yet, far too much of what has gone into
curatorial work, particularly its attendant paradigm shifts, is simply not being brought more
actively into discussions within classrooms and the other informal channels through which
exhibition-making is studied to some discursive level.

Curation within the Lopez Museum
The abbreviated explanation of what LMM presently tries to do is to enliven its presumably
tomb-like spaces by bringing in fresh creative voices, generally understood as inciting the
contemporary to insinuate itself within an imagination of the past. Yet increasingly, since we
began work at Lopez Museum in 2005, we, that is myself and a small but tight curatorial
complement, have realized that the relationship is much more dialectical. That is, rather than
merely insinuating the present within the past through the juxtaposition of objects, the museum is
in fact, arguing that its trove (prone to repeated dismissals as dead art by those less sympathetic
to the privileging of objects) still matters now instead of only during their time.

Coming on board LMM from a meandering path that allowed me to navigate through journalism,
social development research, and then art studies has made occupying this post at the museum
become primarily about openly disputing the notion of the museum as an antiseptic, sealed-off,
ahistorical site, the white cube mythologized by modernism in its insistence on the primacy of
materiality and the 1 of singular reading. Taking this on has consequently brought our team in
recurring confrontation with hackneyed rants about the contemporary being too open-ended so
much so that stagings of it do not provide enough handles to read art with.

Independence as Affectation

Permit me to articulate that I do write this from an arguably nuanced position. Taken on as a
consultant and thus, essentially a free agent bound to an institutional agenda but not bound to
exclusively practice the profession only within this particular museum, this specific locus affords
vantage as well as stricture.

New York-based writer and curator Joshua Decter uncannily describes this situation:

Fundamentally, cultural institutions and museums would prefer that the 'invisible' forces of
contemporary art exhibitions remain precisely thatinvisible. So much of what happens inside of
museums, and other types of cultural institutions, remains hidden from the public's view, and,
often, even from the eyes of the specialized art crowd. Studying the history of exhibitions is
insufficient: the only way to begin to understand how these institutions functioncuratorially,
financially, politically, socially, and so onis to have either worked for/within an institution, or to
have organized projects in conjunction with institutions as an independent curator.

Take as well Tate Gallery's Latin American Art Collections resident historian-critic-curator
Cuauhtemoc Medina: One does not curate on the assumption of the moral integrity of one's
patrons, but in the hope that the balancing act of exhibition-making will both turn the patrons'
interests into support for the arts and that power games will cease to be important in relation to
the arguments and issues arising from the show one is organizing.

In other words, what is tangentially posed as problematic here are those two imagined polarities
of the independent and the institutional. Tempting as it would seem to dwell on this point
further, it appears that it would still be best explored in a separate paper altogether. But just
before proceeding to present one exhibition as a case in point, we restate what this whole
endeavor does argue for, which is, a curation that unequivocally moves away from sheer
institutional perpetuation to one of critical scholarship; one that does not foreclose transgressive
readings by imposing an imperial frame and codes that non-expert readers should fear tangling
with. Even as the realpolitik is that curators, like other cultural agents are never shorn of
accountability, even if they were not institutionally shackled, curators (myself included) need to
reckon with the intended publics that these modes of display are addressed to. This presents an
ironic bind where the curator's independence may truly be merely aspirational but, still never to
be surrendered entirely to institutional gain nor interpretative whim.

This text does contend that what might be central to future teaching and discourse on curatorial
practice are these notions of locus and positionality. In this writers utopia, there ought not be a
day that passes that the self-respecting, attempting-to-be-upright-curator does not deal with the
fact that he or she is a knowledge/meaning-making agent participating in the mostly quiet project
of accruing layer upon layer of supposed truthan epistemic jurisprudence if you will. Apart
from considering where the institutions/initiatives he or she engages with stand amidst the power
configurations that exist within the artworld, the curator critically needs to see his or her role
beyond physical installation and mechanical, rote registration. Within our classrooms, I believe
that we ought to be talking about these messy and troublesome matters such as: How curators
should be keenly aware of their subject positionare they merely looking at artists as pawns for
realizing projects, using them to articulate conceptual arguments or propositions rather than
regarding them as colleagues/co-producers, if not dialogic partners? How does one articulate a
critical opinion from within a domain of institutional agendas and histories? We have not even
begun speaking here about how often curators are made to double up and take on directorial
dutiestending to potential negotiations between those who would make exhibitions logistically
possible while simultaneously benefiting from their gestures being interpreted as unquestionably
pure philanthropy.

The present level of debates about how dialogic the curator-artist, art-viewer relationships need
to be, brings this writer to cite one reference about the perspectival nature of curation, one that
seems to state that the notion of the white cube as neutral space has long been upended. This
is Serpentine Gallery curator Hans Ulrich Obrist speaking to Artforum editor and Venice
Biennale curator Daniel Birnbaum: It takes an effort not to emphasize your own subjectivity,
and to let the art itself be at the center. The real power, the only one worth fighting for, is the
power of art itself. Artists should be given maximum freedom to make their visions clear to
others, and to exceed the limits. That is my role, my real power. The curator helps to make that
happen. And the best way for me to do so is to be open and lucid enough to accept the new
worlds that artists reveal in their most radical dimension.
While this utterance appears to still
suffer from an overly romantic idea of art and artists, it indicates a clear attempt to reign in the
potentially 'dictatorial' curatorial voice. Elsewhere, Obrist talks about triggering a process and
ultimately losing control, giving over the encounter to forces much greater than that which issues
from a single body, a body that Birnbaum, citing Portikus founder Kasper Konig, describes as a
force that dissipates with all the dialectical tension that that invisibility carries.
Given these
notions, the domain of curation can then be imagined both as playground and prison wherein
positions taken on ideas are, depending on how they are laid out and received, provocations
toward inquiry/debate rather than mythically held up as untouchable, isolated from any
suggestion of conflict or illogic.

In perhaps its barest, least contested sense, curation is interpretation. And the power to choose,
not just how, but what, to interpret, is not lost on those who want to make themselves present; it
is admittedly not a form of power that is the monopoly of the curator because there have indeed
been many artists/cultural producers who claim this position. There are too, for instance, writers,
academics who on a daily basis have to deal with where and on whom to expend their energies
which practices to do research on and essentially validate. Very recently in fact, this writer
unwittingly encountered National Artist Arturo Luz, (as recorded on a videotaped interview
screening alongside the exhibition of Purita Kalaw Ledesmas collection at Ayala Museum)
recounting that he was both commissioner and exhibitor at the 1971 Sao Paulo Biennale.
fact, the relatively juvenile age of the curatorial profession brings with it such unsurprising
dilemmas as questions about its specificityshould curators only be curators, and not writers,
not artists, not historians/critics? Yet for today's purposes we necessarily leave these queries
merely hovering above in recognition of how curation, whether practiced by a curator or other
more non-descript individual or by art collectives as such, is about working out the conditions
that weigh upon engagements with art
The Case of Dime a Dozen

Running from June 8 to September 22, 2007 as a larger exhibition, and going on as an extended
project until April 2008, Dime a Dozen occasioned LMM's working with three artists: Alwin
Reamillo, Gerardo Tan, and Tad Ermitao. Conceptually, the exhibition was intended as an
explicit confrontation with the museum's power to validate, or more pointedly, its ability to
cause objects to accrue value. One other goal of the undertaking was to bring artists peopling
visibly distinct circles of art practice into a shared space where a hopefully productive exchanges
of ideas could take place. As curator, I was especially curious and simultaneously anxious about
how this secondary objective would play out. My thesis being that, particularly for thematic
exhibitions, it is only to be expected that artists would feel less agential when a curator opts to
use these artists' existing/extant work given that these necessarily come out of their own specific
contexts rather than as a direct response to a curatorial premise. And it was in this light that we
opted to persuade the artists to do new work precisely intended to address how objects, as they
are propped up as icons either in a museum or in other domains such as pop culture, lose rather
than gain rarefied status. Within this frame, iteration or repeated circulation was seen as a means
to impose new meaning that usually still carried traces of the object's cult status but which also
opened up to resistant if not transgressive re-interpretation.

These three artists responded with various degrees of visible enthusiasm but more importantly
so, with proposals which were not exactly within the horizon of visuals we anticipated within the
project. Gerardo Tan took off from what he regarded as a generic Juan Luna seascape. He
painted a copy of it, photographed it, painted over the photo, photographed that and this cyclic
removing of the image from its supposed origin several times over eventually led to a twelve-
piece work laid out like an imaginary horizon line in the museums frontmost gallery, a small
photo of the installation of the twelve-pieces was non-descriptly hung across one of the facing

Alwin Reamillo, on the other hand, given his earlier work employing overlaid surfaces such as
tarps and the use of emulsion and phototransfer, decided to make largely paired up reproductions
of Luna pieces in the collection such as Espaa y Filipinas, a portrait of Governor General
Blanco, Spanish Girl, Ensueno un amor, Mi Padre, El Violinista, Cockney Girl, Marquina, and
a sheet of figure studies called Fencing Positions. Given the comparably kitschy form that the
reproductions came in (rough hewn wooden panels upon which sets of figures were transferred
to; tacked on tarps specifically the Espaa one laid out on the floor and eventually scratched
upon and splayed out with found rocks and Reamillo's iconic crabs with image-transfers), we
braced ourselves for how elderly, return visitors would receive the installation. Surprisingly, the
most problematic of these propositions turned out to be the proposed reverse hanging of a Gaston
O'Farrel copy of Luna's self-portrait. In the eyes of one vocal LMM board member, it was just
not something they could abide with.

The third artist, Tad Ermitao, was to our mind, yet another left-of-field choice, coming as he
does from film and new media rather than the more predictable confines of the traditional visual
arts. Ermitao openly dealt with his lineage in film by producing an installation of twenty TV
monitors laid out like film strips around a central projection surface which would play (through
back projection video) a fictional account of the corpse of Limahong being brought to life by
characters composited from Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's rendering of La Barca de Aqueronte
and the assassination of Governor General Bustamante, within the interiors of a fortress-like
structure also referenced from a sketch by Hidalgo. Viewers would encounter the installation in a
darkened room amidst a scratchy sound track of Strangers in Paradise, and a more
conventional hang of the Hidalgo drawings which they would eventually recognize as the source
images for the animated video unfolding before them.

These artists' projects were then rounded out by specific museal interventions such as our
installing selected pieces from LMM's trove that could loosely be regarded as representative of
the conservative and modernist camps which figured in the oft-cited Victorio Edades and
Guillermo Tolentino postwar debates. These polemics had been rendered in street parlance
within comic strip thought balloons in an animated segment of Nick Deocampo's documentary
on Edades as National Artist and advocate for a stream of nascent modernism. This video
segment ran as a loop upon a central panel within one of the museum's main galleries. A second
intervention from our end consisted of devoting a whole room to referencing how the National
Hero Jose Rizal, his name, visage, personal effects, etc., had not escaped this wearing down and
iterative appending of meaning demonstrated in various degrees by popular merchandise riding
on Rizal's elevated status and presumed marketability. We installed such objects in a typical
vitrine which also contained Rizal's personal possessions that are part of LMM's collection. In
the middle of this room, were three pedestals housing monitors that played a humorously
animated clip revealing how Rizal appears on things as banal as a match box to the dismally
shrinking but still supposedly precious one peso cointhe segment is taken from Mike de Leon's
film, the meta-documentary Bayaning Third World. Lastly, at the three corners of this oddly
shaped room, visitors would find computer kiosks bookmarked at a Friendster page which we
created for the National Hero. Over the course of the year during which Dime a Dozen ran, we
encoded and uploaded messages between Rizal and Ferdinand Blumentritt as well as fictional
correspondence between Rizal's actual and new Friendster friends. It was also during this
period that we trawled the net for related but independently generated content, this yielded
deviant art jpegs and YouTube videos which we also uploaded unto the Friendster account. This
not only allowed us to invoke contemporary Rizal incarnations but allowed visitors, both online
and on-site, to navigate as well as map the diverse channels that Rizals persona had penetrated.

Let me end these descriptions by saying that each hang for a new show is never a total surprise
given that artists were pre-selected precisely because they appeared to display an inclination
toward exploring problems intersecting with the curatorial premise in various degrees. Let me
insert here, however, that despite all the problems attendant with dealing with an aging
institution and the unwieldiness of artistic thought and process, this privilege of seeing ideas
getting subsumed, fused, and finding notions posed schematically in a curator's conceptual brief
deepened if not subverted--this is what, for me personally, keeps the practice engaging. This
setting down of initially tentative curatorial assumptions, then repudiated or problematized by
working on-site has provided many a painful but always constructively humbling experience for
everyone that takes part in realizing an exhibition. It does not take much to realize that no one
person is ever totally in control. And yet, there will still be times when there is just no viable
way, despite your best intentions, to fend off being suspected of merely toying with art or
artists. But again, this is not the occasion to go into detail about such matters.

Allow us now to return to the question of parameters in the hope of bringing the focus back on
the dynamics between a curator aspiring for some independent leverage while in fact dealing
with an institution. Working with a collection is essentially working with a finite set of objects
that collectively draw implied limits to the discourse to be generated. And this discourse is what
I would have hoped could be construed as the tracks that curation leaves or crafts upon the
memories of exhibitions past. Resistance to the implied delineation effected by a collection is at
least one reason why the Kunsthalle/laboratory mode holds such seductive pull and thus poses as
an attractive option to artists/curators unwilling to deal with pre-existing conditions and
institutional impositions. In our case, the backdrop for all that we do in LMM is in fact informed
by the need to keep as much of the Lunas and Hidalgos visible within the galleries rather than
tucked away in storage. Much of LMM's reputation as a center for heritage preservation is
thought to rest upon these objects being on display, their presence not so subtly suggestive of
lineage and priceless and timeless culture. This is despite the strides made under former
curator Joselina Cruz, under whose watch the first changing exhibitions of LMM were instituted.
Like most museums the world over, LMM does not enjoy the luxury of expansive storage space
nor exhibition areas, and so, this on and off pressure remains operative today given that there are
visitors who expectantly come to the museum to only see particular objects, specifically Lunas,
Hidalgos, and at certain junctures, antiquarian maps.

Such are the givens in this practice and they underline how curation is an attempt to instigate, if
not redirect, discourse within a site that is never a blank slate but is multiply inscribed by
competing interests. The way I see how we've positioned ourselves in LMM is that of the
curator/curatorial team as double agent, with one foot in, one foot outnot entirely conscripted
but ensconced enough to mediate between much more distantiated agents and those more
institutionally invested.

I found this arguably scrupulous role described aptly by Ihor Holubizky, an independent curator
working out of Canada and Australia, among other sites: The unknown is not how galleries and
museums work. The edge is too risky; artists too unpredictable, too unruly, ideas can be
transgressive; they undermine authority; can be politically incorrect, enrage, and infuriate. This
is true of the blue-chip museum and the journalistic temporary contemporary gallery. They hire
curators to serve the mandate. My experience showed that cultural research is measuredthat
quantitative leaps are not easily accepted ... must be cloaked.

Over time and certainly not through inaction, avenues do open up for the independently-thinking
curator to perform an agential role even in the most intransigent of institutions, and this not only
in terms of exhibition display or programming. In our case for instance, there are such long-
drawn out advocacies such asvery slowly challenging ideas about ownership of the knowledge
base (initiating discussions about copyleft, shifting notions about IPR), as well as a possible shift
from a primarily object-centric museology vis--vis a more conceptual or notional one that
comfortably works with obsolescence and the refusal of conservation. There too is getting the
institutional leadership to understand the need to make scholarship surrounding the collection
and its subsequent engagements more and more interdisciplinary and non-monolithic, by
bringing in voices from outside of the institution. But of course in this conference venue
peopled by skeptics and critics dying to pounce on grand narratives and other flimsy
incongruences, all this posturing will still predictably be suspect. Undeniably, an institution's
collection is expectedly framed according to its interests. My contention is that it is the job of the
curator to find the cracks in that frame so that critique and ultimately scholarship can penetrate
with ideas virally and discourse may be generated even in unanticipated modes and in innocuous
nooks and crannies.
Vienna-based author-critic-curator Stella Rollig puts this succinctly: To decide what art
projects to bring into the museum's walls and which others are better situated elsewhere, we
should ask, Will the intervention create a change, and if only a tiny one, will it be sustainable?
Will it challenge the audience's notion of art? Can it add another idea to what I, the curator, and
the audience always thought that art can and also life should be about?

As Dime a Dozen was coming to a close in 2008, our museum director half-jokingly relayed to
us that our Board Chair was asking again and again about when those tarps and crabs were going
to come off the museum walls. Leading up to this, she had rather carefully been asking me if we
werent making too much fun of ourselves, to which I repeatedly replied with a smile and a
tentatively appeasing: but doesnt that point to how strong and mature this is as an institution?
Needless to say there is still continuing give and take going on. The past five years have entailed
picking up smarts on a steep learning curve, wherein one not only has to choose which battles to
wageacceding to a more descriptive sub-title here, toning down or detouring portions of the
tour script when this appears to be more tactically constructivebut also genuinely cultivating
the trust of those who will see the museum through its years when we had long faded either into
retirement or moved on to yet other daunting engagements between art and its public/s.

There is no denying that there is much luxury in being able to throw the weight of an institution
behind often precarious attempts to explore otherwise impractical ideas, so I think that as
educators, the one undeniable task at hand is to adequately equip those who will bear the brunt of
dealing with these cultural entities: state, institutional/corporate, private business, and so on.
The heightened pace at which new art and new sites for making art visible are coming up makes
this task doubly urgent. As a member of the UP DAS faculty, it appears to me that while we are
arming our ranks with invaluable critical theory, we are still sorely lacking in the arena of praxis.
Apart from intently developing spatial intelligence and other non-verbal capacities from which
competence will inevitably be drawn, our students will also need to pick up management skills,
learn to recognize their competencies, and know when and how to work with individuals of
allied fieldsdesign, education, publication, marketing, logistics, conservation etc. They will
need to be clued in to how to negotiate, how to reckon with very everyday considerations
fending off unethical if not ideologically indefensible programming, how to stand your ground
without alienating your board or project partners, how to keep your integrity amidst an
environment which poses real challenges to those working toward a professional practice that is
creative, sustainable, grounded, and sharp all at the same time. This to my mind, more honestly
describes where curation happens, that is within these improvised conditions of curation

which Patrick Flores cites in his book Past Peripheral.

Perhaps now more than at any other juncture, we ought to be infusing our teaching with an even
sturdier ethical backboneto keep our students from easily slipping into careerist tracks or
getting drunk on their ability to take what is obscure and propel that sort of work as the must-see,
must-know, must-buy of the moment. Perhaps it is this more than anything else that argues most
vocally against imagining exhibitionary sites as purely aesthetic places bereft of anything else
but the brilliance of art.

Apart from creeping middle age, what is it that compels this writer to bring all these up?
Primarily it has been about hoping to underline how each curatorial gesture leaves a trace, even
more pointedly a stain, evidence that is not so easily done away with no matter how adamantly
any institution or individual projects innocence and neutrality. Even if the posited frame that
each exhibition comes packed with will and should always be honestly posed and remain open to
reckoning with counter-readings, it undeniably consists of an articulated position that may be
tentative but laid out nonetheless. So in yet another restatement, I am indeed arguing for curation
that is expressly research-oriented yet undeniably grounded, wherein the prime task is that of
asking and surfacing problems rather than merely tending to housekeeping (and the housing of
static objects) which while indispensable, has unfortunately overshadowed the critical potential
that the curatorial voice affords when summoned and activated.

Crafting this paper has been as much about reliving how we have tried to learn the ropes as it is a
submission to a hopefully collegial body. It has also occasioned some reflection on whether we
are in fact any better or worse off given that no single institution in this country offers a focused,
practice-specific program called curatorial studies. While I do not offer a categorical answer to
that, let me hazard that perhaps, much like most of our other Asian neighbors, as recounted in
Dr. Flores's book, we may actually be encouraging a much more rounded, or multifaceted,
interdisciplinary approach as a consequence of not over-privileging the autonomy of the practice
from such fields as theory, art history, aesthetics. Popularly imagined as performing a glossy
job that in reality, is herculean particularly in the Philippine context, curators are called on to
be: both generalist and specialist, interpreter, educator, public figure, sometime fiscal enabler
none of which are tasks you are wholly equipped for as you leave the university.

And that is also admittedly why I insinuated myself within this space as carved out by the
conference. It is one overt way of holding myself to account for deeds fairly recently done. In
effect, I'm asking myself in the here and now whether the sites I engage with at the moment are
still allowing me to ask questions, to leave tracks worth revisiting or whether I'm just going
around in circles. In closing, I would assume you realize by now that this is much a therapeutic
gesture as much as it is an academic one precisely because the field of practice is so treacherous,
that one just so easily tips over to self-love and imbibing one's own press; this is a practice where
earnest feedback is truly preciousat least that which issues out of honest circumspection rather
than professional envy or the patronizing that may come from people who will be afraid to
openly speak because you could refuse them access to your programs or become estranged from
you on a personal level. Needless to say, re-surfacing like this among fellow students and
perpetual learners is requisite for one's sanity.
Let me end in earnest with a final quotation from Mexican curator and critic Cuauhtemoc
Medina, with his account of failed curatorial plans for the XXV Bienal de Sao Paulo: [M]ore
frequently than the etiquette jargon of our catalogue admits, curatorship is the creative
sublimation of such forces as the craving for prestige of bourgeois patrons, the lust for
legitimization and cultural sanitation of state bureaucracies, the quest of the new hegemonic
projects of the old nationalism, and finally the itching of those two all-pervading erotic forces
greed and vanity. In order to open space for contemporary arts in the public sphere, we're
expected to operate some kind of social alchemy: to wrap the untenable with a halo of urgency,
to turn dubious interest into the benefit of artists and audiences, to transmogrify ambition,
ideology, and even corruption into spaces of freedom...Then there are reasonable chances for an
ethical posture that I describe as 'responsible opportunism,' namely, the redemptive disruption of
everything we hate so much about cultural institutions, not just because the ends justify the
means, but because of the fun to be had in perverting the inner logic of specific power


Bovier, Lionel (Ed.) Hans Ulrich Obrist, A Brief History of Curating., Zurich: JRP/Ringier and
Les Presses Du Reel, 2008.
Flores, Patrick. Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia. Singapore: NUS Museum, 2008.
Thomas, Catherine (Ed.) The Edge of Everything: Reflections on Curatorial Practice. Alberta:
Banff Centre Press, 2002.
Townsend, Melanie (Ed.) Beyond the Box: Diverging Curatorial Practices, Alberta, Banff
Centre Press, 2003.


1 Seth Siegelaub in an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, A Brief History of Curating. (Zurich: JRP/ Ringier
and Les Presses du Reel, 2008), 130.
2 Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics in Public Culture 14, 2002.
3 Joshua Decter, At the Verge of Curatorial Transparency, in The Edge of Everything, 102-03.
Cuauhtemoc Medina, Another Hysterical Attempt to Theorize about Defeat. in Beyond the Box: Diverging

Curatorial Practices, 82.
5 Quoted in Daniel Birnbaum, The Archeology of Things to Come, in Obrist, 236.
6 Ibid.
7 From an interview clip in the Remembering Purita segment of the video Purita Kalaw Ledesma: A Portrait,
Ayala Museum and Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation 2009. Shown at Ayala Museum during the exhibition A Vision
of Philippine Art: Selections from the Purita Kalaw Ledesma Collection (February 2-May 3, 2010).
8 Ihor Holubizky, The Man Who Thought His Myopia Was a Vision Heliocentric Worlds, with Apologies to
Herman Blount, in The Edge of Everything, 128-29.
Stella Rollig, Contemporary Art Practices and the Museum, in Beyond the Box: Diverging Curatorial
Practices, 106.
10 Patrick Flores, Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia. (Singapore: NUS Museum, 2008), 91.
Cuauhtemoc Medina, Another Hysterical Attempt to Theorize about Defeat. in Beyond the Box: Diverging
Curatorial Practices, 79.