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MJ - Manifesta Journal

MJ - Manifesta Journal
journal of contemporary curatorship

N4, Autumn / Winter 2004

Teaching Curatorship

N5, Spring / Summer 2005

Artist & Curator

N6, Autumn / Winter 2005

Archive: Memory of the Show

MJ Manifesta Journal is the international journal of contemporary curatorship, MJ - Manifesta Journal
based on the ideas and aims developed over the course of the consecutive journal of contemporary curatorship
Manifesta biennials and all related activities. The main scope of MJ focuses on
issues of curatorial work - its strategies, conditions, dilemmas, and contexts. MJ N4, Autumn / Winter 2004
Teaching Curatorship
aims for curatorial self-reflection and self-examination. From 2003 to 2005, MJ
was produced as a series of six issues, which were titled The Revenge of the White
Cube?; Biennials; Exhibition as a Dream; Teaching Curatorship; Artist & Curator
and Archive: Memory of the Show.

The former publishers of MJ Manifesta Journal, the International Foundation

Manifesta in Amsterdam and Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, have agreed to allow
Silvana Editoriale to reprint the six issues of MJ in honour of the former editor, Igor
Zabel, who passed away in July, 2005. This book forms the second part of the reprint
of MJ. The last two issues of this volume, MJ nrs. 5 and 6 titled Artist & Curator and
Archive: Memory of the Show respectively, are published for the first time.

The International Foundation Manifesta and Moderna Galerija would like to thank the
authors, translators, designers and editors, who kindly and generously contributed to
MJ Manifesta Journal. A special thanks goes to Saskia van der Kroef and Viktor Misiano
for all their work in final editing the last two issues of MJ. We are also grateful to Silvana
Editoriale, who has made it possible to launch the reprint of MJ as two books on the
occasion of Manifesta 7, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which takes place in
the North-Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige from July 19 until November 2, 2008.

MJ Manifesta Journal will continue to exist. The concept of MJ will be in line with
the model of the Manifesta Biennial: continuously changing and reinventing itself.
Thus, the editorial board of MJ changes every two years, allowing each team to
produce a new series of six issues.

Hedwig Fijen
International Foundation Manifesta

Zdenka Badovinac
Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana
Although the figure of the contemporary art curator is a relatively new feauture in the world
of contemporary art, it has developed and established itself very quickly. An important part
of this process has been the development of an educational system for curators. There have
been a growing number of curatorial schools and courses, from short workshops to full
programs of graduate studies. Just as it is the case with art eduaction, however, curatorial
education seems to be a complicated issue. What can be taught and learned in such a
process? Can curatorial schools transmit merely technological skills and general information
or can they shape and develop ones fundamental positions and understanding of art? Are
such schools merely a system of self-reproduction of the system, or do they enable their
students positions that oppose conventions and routines? A number of people involved in
the process of curatorial education are invited to reflect upon these and similar issues.
MJ - Manifesta Journal
journal of contemporary curatorship

N4, Autumn/Winter 2004

Teaching Curatorship

no. 4
Angela Vettese
10 Why Young Curators Should Be Taught How to Watch TV

Cloe Piccoli
no. 4 68 Playing with Serendipity

Pier Luigi Tazzi Zoran Eri and Stevan Vukovi

no. 4 16 A Short Report on My Former Involvement no. 4 70 Curating the Curators
in Raising Little Monsters
Pip Day
Robert Fleck no. 4 76 Site-specific Curatorial Studies
no. 4 24 Teaching Curatorship?
Saa Nabergoj
Alice Vergara-Bastiand no. 4 80 World of Art in the World of Art
no. 4 28 Key Words
Mercedes Vicente
Viktor Misiano in Discussion with Teresa Gleadowe no. 4 86 The Central Place of Discourse in Curatorial Studies
no. 4 30 Terms of Engagement
Karina Ericsson Wrn
Catherine Hemelryk no. 4 90 Okwui Who?
no. 4 38 Salad Days
Mns Wrange
Nataa Petrein no. 4 94 Whos Afraid of the Big Bad Curator?
no. 4 40 Interview with Saskia Bos
Richard Flood
Rainer Ganahl no. 4 96 Questions Re: Internships
no. 4 44 When Attitudes Become - Curating
Kate Fowle
Paul Brewer no. 4 98 Curating as a Process
no. 4 58 On the Quasi-Dilemma of Enrolling
in a Curatorial Studies Program

Dominic Willsdon
no. 4 62 Curating as a Profession?

The editors gratefully acknowledge the help of Teresa Gleadowe in preparing this issue.

Angela Vettese

Why Young Curators

Should Be Taught
How to Watch TV
Angela Vettese To choose, to negotiate, to organize. These would appear to be the specific areas conceiving and preparing a catalogue (with the full awareness of the implications 1
These observations
is the president of the have become clear to
Fondazione Bevilacqua of expertise needed by the curator of experimental art. Until recently, curators have of particular formats, kinds of paper, typefaces, and so on). Each of these steps, me through my teaching
La Masa in Venice and been decidedly self-taught, even though their work involves multiple disciplines and including those related to publicity, means adopting a cultural position. Nothing is a experiences at the
the director of the Corso Universit Commerciale
di Laurea Specialistica
may call for ongoing training. Is it possible, then, to teach something that comprises side issue, and nothing is supplementary. Bocconi in Milan -
in Arti Visive (CLASAV) such different skills and abilities as those of intellectual, manager, publisher, writer, which for five years has
at the Universit IUAV Choosing the topic on which to focus implies, above all, a sensitivity to the presented a course that
and so on?1
in Venice. She teaches includes the training of
history of contemporary phenomena that characterize our time. Unlike the museum conservator, the curator curators - and, above all,
art at the Universit Academic training in art history leads only to an ability to prepare texts. The aspects is also a dynamic figure in ethical terms; rather than maintaining the state of things at the IUAV of Venice,
Bocconi in Milan. where I head the degree
She has been writing of curatorial activity that involve decision-making are so vast that they require a wide as they are, he or she encourages change. The curator acts as a tuning fork through program in visual arts
since 1986 for the range of different types of knowledge: on the theoretical level alone, it would be which vibrate the pertinent changes that take place around us. In order to refine and where such curators
Sunday supplement as Francesco Bonami,
of the Italian daily
unthinkable for a curator not to have a background in sociology and philosophy. But a capacity for picking up on even the weakest signals - the strong signals, that is, Carlos Basualdo, Hans
newspaper Il Sole 24 theoretical understanding is but one aspect of curating, just as the expertise of the those emanating from trends already in motion, will have already been noted by Ulrich Obrist, and others
Ore. She has organized connoisseur is but one of the many areas of knowledge a curator needs. others - it is important to know how to read the images of the past as well as those have been and are
several exhibitions and teachers.
published a number of the present, from the design of automobiles, to emerging architecture, to television
of catalogue essays. The Latin root of the word curator, which is also the root of the English word care, programming. An international television format like Big Brother, for example, tells
Among her books
are Artisti si diventa, sheds light on the main difference between the curator and the critic, as the latter us how certain elements of experimental art have found their way into entertainment
Carocci, Rome, 1998, was once defined. The curator, in fact, is not concerned with a body of work, but - in particular, the voyeurism that characterized much of the performance art of the
A cosa serve larte
with the activity of living artists with whom one may, and indeed, must, collaborate. 1970s. On the other hand, this same phenomenon also informs us about the present
Allemandi, Turin, 2001 In general, the exhibition is the moment in which a series of decisions and cultural and potential aspects of the social dynamic we must come to grips with in the future:
and Invertir en Arte, approaches congeal so as to produce a result that demonstrates an ability to take compulsory coexistence due to a lack of living space, accompanied by a dramatic
Piramide, Valencia,
2003. care of artists, works, and places. In fact, from the viewpoint of the cultural aims an loss of privacy, due also to advances in telephony. Obviously, in order to capture
exhibition seeks to express, the curator even takes care of the world. The attitude what we have called weak signals, one must implement a critical approach, which
of the curator derives directly from that of the artists who, in the early 1900s - from may be either taught or nurtured.
such exhibitions as the Russian constructivists 0-10 to the shows of the surrealists
- conceived of the moment of the exhibition as a statement in itself, and not merely Decisions about related factors, such as the location or the installation approach, are
a display of paintings; here the impersonal genre of the Paris salon gave way to the also, as we have said, part of the work of the curator. To cite just one example, Arnold
practice of the exhibition as a place in which values were determined through works Bode, for his first Documenta in Kassel, selected as his location, with full awareness
and acts, not words. of its significance, the ruins of the Fredericianum (1955), covering them (with equal
lucidity) with a nomadic, post-war installation of black plastic. Over and above the
First of all, then, the curator must know how to identify the theme around which to history of these types of location, future curators may also be taught to interpret the
focus the exhibition, and to base the selection of the artists on the chosen theme. language of places and to recognize their declarative potential.
This involves a series of related actions, such as choosing a suitable location to
be the hypertext of the show, guiding artists in the installation of their work, and

10 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 11

in which the exhibition takes place or for the genuine inclinations of the curators Joseph Kosuth with his
students from CLASAV,
themselves. Such charts can become a dictatorial instrument at the service of a Venice, 2004 (Photo:
highly commercialized art system, and resistance can be difficult.3 Another kind of Luca Vascon)

violence that can easily taint the work of the curator is that of superimposing his 3
On the coercive nature
or her own theoretical positions on works or artists who have nothing to do with of certain mechanisms
of the art system and
them.4 In particular, there can be ghastly results when the theoretical pabulum their repercussions on
of reference is the international koine of poststructuralism and psychoanalysis, a the career of the curator,
see Raymonde Moulin,
gruel that is as common as it is indigestible, or when the curator succumbs to the
Lartiste, listitution,
temptation to establish a relationship with the public by leaning in the direction of le march (Paris:
Rikrit Tiravanija and the It is clear that behind each process of choosing lies the capacity to negotiate: this is spectacle and infotainment.5 Curators may also start to take themselves so seriously Flammarion, 1992);
students from CLASAV my Artisti si diventa
(Venice) during a project true in the economic sphere since the construction of a budget implies the balancing that they feel independent of the artists and the works for which they are, in effect, (Rome: Carocci, 1998)
in Florence on 25 June of different expenditures - for the catalogue, travel, productions, etc. This is a function mediators.6 and A cosa serve larte
2004 contemporanea (Turin:
that involves not only the ability to bargain, but also specifically cultural aspects: a Allemandi, 2001); Niklas
On the possibility of typical question is, which sponsors, forms of support, and alliances are acceptable If today it is possible to teach young curators how to avoid these traps, it is precisely Luhmann, Art as a Social
reducing the choice System (Stanford, Calif.:
of artists to a banal
and desirable and which are not, whether because of ideological considerations or because of the process of self-analysis by curators, especially in the 1990s: there
Stanford University
ranking accepted both by because of the imposed demands of return on the investment. Negotiation is a way of exist no canons to be respected or proposed for this happily spurious calling, just as Press, 2000); and
critics and dealers, see establishing a relationship with those politicians who may, in certain cases, actively such do not exist for the artistic material that is its focus. What we do have is a great Karsten Schubert, The
such works as Cream Curators Egg (London:
(London: Phaidon Press, help promote the exhibition or, in others, at least tolerate it. With such political mass of cases for thought and discussion and an awareness of the central role visual One-Off Press, 2000).
1998); figures, too, a give-and-take relationship is established that will make an impact on culture is acquiring in our time7 - a culture for which the curator is standard-bearer
Fresh Cream (London:
Phaidon Press, 2000); the outcome and significance of the exhibition. and spokesperson. In addition, there is the finally consolidated conviction that the
Cream 3 (London: curator is neither seer nor guru, but a highly creative technician. All this must be
Phaidon Press, 2003);
Louisa Buck, Moving
Negotiating also involves such things as knowing when to go along with an artist who taken with the proviso that sensibility, like qualities of leadership and charisma,
Targets: A Users Guide wants to expand his share of the space or the budget, deciding how to allot space cannot be taught from scratch but merely nurtured; as in any other discipline, the
to British Art Now in a group show, and being able to impose a schedule. In this sense, negotiation is teaching stops where the talent of the apprentice begins.
(London: Tate Gallery
Publishing, 1997); and continuously interwoven with organization, becoming a way of coordinating persons,
Burkhard Riemschneider things, and concepts, and maintaining them in a constant relationship.
and Uta Grosenick,
Art at the Turn of the
Millennium, (Cologne: While it is possible to make future curators aware of the side-effects of their activities,
Taschen, 1999).
a teacher can do little more than anticipate a range of operative options, while drawing
on examples from the past. Curatorial activity, after all, even when conducted with the
best of intentions, can find itself transformed into something violent. In the choice of
artists, there is the danger of simply perpetuating the top ten, that is, the repeated
inclusion of the hottest talents,2 with a consequent lack of respect for the territory

12 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 13

Joseph Kosuth with his 1997). For a discussion 7
On the development Rikrit Tiravanija
students from CLASAV, that looks at how these of visual culture, which and the students from
Venice, 2004 (Photo: phenomena also effect does not necessarily CLASAV (Venice) during
Luca Vascon) postcolonial areas, see involve experimental art, a manifestation in Rome
Okwui Enwezor and Olu see Charles Jenks, ed., on 6 June 2004
On the birth of the Oguibe, eds., Reading Visual Culture (London:
exhibition as a device the Contemporary: Routledge, 1995), and
used by twentieth- African Art from Theory Nicholas Mirzoeff, An
century artist groups for to Marketplace (London: Introduction to Visual
declaring their particular Iniva, 1999). Culture, (London:
aesthetic, see Bruce Routledge, 1999).
Altshuler, The Avant 5
The phenomenon of the
Garde in Exhibition (New exhibition as infotainment
York: Abrams, 1994); does not relate only to
for the art of the second contemporary art but
half of the century, also, and even more, to
see Reesa Greenberg, ancient and pre-modern
Bruce W. Ferguson, art, for which it is
and Sandy Nairne, necessary to implement
eds., Thinking about an even greater process
Exhibitions (London: of spectacularization:
Routledge, 1996). On see Francis Haskell, The
the intersection of this Ephemeral Museum:
trend with the career Old Masters Paintings
strategies of artists and and the Rise of the Art
curators, parallel with the Exhibition (London: Yale
accentuation of the role University Press, 2000),
of the market for art and and Thomas Hoving,
infotainment, see two Making the Mummies
classic works: Theodor Dance (New York: Simon
W. Adorno and Max and Schuster, 1993).
Horkheimer, Dialectic of
Enlightenment (1947) 6
On the self-analysis of
and Guy Debord, The curators with respect to
Society of the Spectacle their role, see in particular
(English translation, Mika Hannula, ed.,
London, Black and Stopping the Process,
Red, 1977). For a more Contemporary Views
recent discussion, one on Art and Exhibitions
that takes account (Helsinki: NIFCA, 1998)
of developments and Carin Kuoni, ed.,
in marketing, see Words of Wisdom:
Oskar Btschmann, A Curators Vade Mecum
Ausstellungknstler: on Contemporary Art
Kult und Karriere im (New York: Independent
Moderner Kunstsystem Curators International,
(Cologne: DuMont, 2001).

14 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 15


Pier Luigi Tazzi

A Short Report
on My Former Involvement
in Raising Little Monsters
Pier Luigi Tazzi In the second half of the eighties and the first half of the nineties, I had the opportunity art. This Tuscan balance, which had developed from the Middle Ages to the
is a critic, columnist,
teacher and curator,
to work at a number of curating schools in France, Italy, and England, as lecturer, Renaissance, took on a mythic character, beginning in the late eighteenth century,
currently based in tutor, and advisor. All the course titles were expressed in English, since English was thanks primarily to the literary works of such authors as Goethe, Stendahl, John
Capalle, a tiny village
already becoming the dominant language of the art world. Even the word curator, Ruskin, and Jakob Burckhardt; artistic contributions also played a role here, though
inan industrial area
of Tuscany. Among though often clumsily translated into other languages, comes from English. more rarely - Arnold Bcklin is the best example. All of this orchestrated a kind of
others, he was curator revival, hailing the Italian, and specifically the Tuscan, model as one of the utmost
at the 1988 Biennale
of Venice, co-director This was also the time when the first schools for curators in Europe were getting excellence, virtually the cradle of modern civilization and European aesthetic culture.
of DOCUMENTA IX in started. In the United States, a different history had determined a different evolution The mythic image thus formulated, however, was threatened by such inevitable
Kassel in 1992, co-
curatorofWounds, the
in the art system, though the relationship between the European and American growth factors as industrialization and urbanization, which greatly accelerated after
inaugural exhibition systems remained constant and close, to the point of near identification, despite World War II. But since at least the 1960s, the mythology of the place has itself been
of the new building of
evident differences. Just consider the American conception of the museum, and how a factor in producing irreversible change: just consider the profound transformation
Moderna Museetin
Stockholm in 1998, it differs from its European counterpart. of the landscape and environment due to the growth of both mass and elite tourism,
and of Happiness, the especially the so-called agritourism.
inaugural exhibition of
Mori Art Museum in My first assignment related to training curators came from Le Magasin, National
Tokyo in 2003. Center of Contemporary Art, in Grenoble, France, which was then under the direction The third interesting characteristic of the region in the late 1980s was of a purely
of my friend Adelina von Frstenberg. I was asked to organize a tour of Tuscany for artistic nature. I refer to the presence in Tuscany of such native artists as Remo
the centers curating students. The region had not yet become the mythic territory Salvadori and Marco Bagnoli, who represented, together with Ettore Spalletti
for contemporary art it was to be in the nineties, but it presented certain interesting from Abruzzo, a type of 1980s European art that presented a clear contrast to
characteristics regarding the art of the current period. the most favored market and mass-media trends of the time. Without themselves
ever constituting a movement able to be summed up in a single formula - thus
The first of these was the none-too-peaceful coexistence between, on the one hand, circumventing the temptation of being marketed as a style or fashion - these artists
a noble and ancient history and tradition that already belonged to the realm of myth affiliated themselves with other European artists such as the Austrian Franz West;
and that was perceived as such not only by visitors and other foreigners who lived the Germans Reinhard Mucha, Thomas Schtte, Gnther Frg, and Thomas Ruff;
there for longer or shorter periods of time, from Georg Baselitz to Andrei Tarkovsky, the Belgians Jan Vercruysse and Thierry de Cordier; the Spaniards Juan Muoz
but also by the Tuscans themselves; and on the other, a perhaps less noble, more and Cristina Iglesias; and the Frenchman Jean Marc Bustamante. Through their
recent vernacular history mainly determined by the industrialization and urbanization work, they sought to reflect on the meaning and values of European civilization
of the territory in an unstoppable process of transformation that was certainly not during its phase of greatest expansion. Salvadoris Tuscan home was itself a kind of
painless. rural Gesamtkunstwerk. Bagnolis interpretation of history, especially cultural history
and the signs it left on the territory, represented a peerless source of unorthodox
The second interesting characteristic, closely connected to the first, was the mythic thinking. These two Tuscan artists were able to transcend the mythology of the place
presence of art as the regions outstanding feature. The Tuscan landscape is by recognizing something that, though local in nature, had acquired a universal
celebrated, at various levels of high- and low-brow communication, as the result of spiritual value.
a harmonious relationship between nature and culture that was achieved through

16 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 17

Catalogue of Finally, the existence of the recently opened Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art of the Russian and German avant-gardes, the museum remained the privileged
Documenta 5,
Kassel, 1972 in Prato had to be considered; this was the first museum in Italy built specifically place for the presentation of art. But the museum came under further attack toward
Cover by Ed Ruscha for contemporary art. The Castello di Rivoli, which had opened a few years earlier the end of the 1950s and throughout 1960s by neo-avant-garde artists who sought
near Turin, was situated in a prestigious historical building and seemed almost to a concrete space in which art could manifest itself in all its aspects, a place that was
cling to the umbilical cord of history, as if contemporary Italian art still needed that not - as the museum had been and still was - a storehouse (albeit a sublimely sacred
mother hen to watch over its growth and ensure the validity of its image, while in one) for the traces of an experience and a practice that were always elsewhere and
the rest of Western Europe, from the German museums to the Beaubourg, the break in another time with respect to the space and time of unfolding reality. Yves Klein
had already been made. and Piero Manzoni, happenings, Fluxus, American minimalism, Joseph Beuys and
Marcel Broodthaers, Italian Arte Povera - all attempted to reappropriate real space.
The tour of visits I prepared for the Le Magasin students was based on these It was at this point that the major exhibition began to emerge as the primary
considerations. In my view, it was important for the curating student to have a direct place for presenting art, rather than the museum. But this was not the only thing
relationship with the context in which his or her actions would take place, in all its that replaced the museum; there were also the Kunsthalle and similar institutions
various historical, social, environmental, economic, and even sensual aspects, as throughout the Western world (museums without collections, and therefore without
well as with the specific artistic setting. history), as well as the commercial gallery, which was no longer just a sales outlet
but, along these other new institutions, had become a place where artists work
The following year I received another invitation from Le Magasin, this time to conduct was presented to the world. In previous practice, as long as an artwork remained
a seminar at the center in Grenoble. Here I took a completely different approach. in the artists studio, it was still unborn, but once it entered a museum or a
I concentrated on supplying elements useful for defining the role of the curator as collection, whether open to the public or jealously guarded by private owners, it
it had emerged over the previous twenty years in the privileged area of Western became a sign/relic of a constructive and experiential practice suspended midway
Europe. In fact, over that span of time a profound transformation had taken place in between the island of Utopia - an uncertain future - and the archives of History - a
the management of art events. past codified by the winners at the expense of the losers. In contrast, the major
exhibition, institutions like the Kunsthalle, and the commercial gallery now offered
Ever since the late eighteenth century, two figures had overseen the relationship a concrete space rooted in the present, the foundation of which was economics:
between art and society, a relationship that underwent a period crisis with the end socio-institutional economics, in the case of the major exhibition; market economics
of the so-called ancien rgime. The first was that of the art historian, in relation to in the case of the gallery; and something in between in the case of the Kunsthalle.
the institution of the museum. Art was part of history, though in an autonomous The curator, who stood apart from both the historians claims of objectivity and
way with respect to the general systems of production believed to determine its the militant critics ideological leanings, became the main point of reference in this
progress, and the museum and the art historian defined its qualities and certified its structural framework, simultaneously creator and organizer of the major exhibition,
value. Later, and especially in the period of the avant-garde movements of the early the person responsible for the artistic programming of the Kunsthalle, and the one
twentieth century, another figure emerged alongside that of the art historian, namely who had the inside track to the gallery as both guarantor and cultural mediator of
the militant critic, who encouraged and supported, through the tools of his critical the commercial values the gallery produced.
theory, one stylistic and aesthetic trend as opposed to other trends, both historical
and contemporary. Despite attacks by the Italian futurists and the alternative projects

18 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 19

The curator, who stood apart from both the historians claims of
objectivity and the militant critics ideological leanings, became the
main point of reference in this structural framework, simultaneously
creator and organizer of the major exhibition, the person responsible
for the artistic programming of the Kunsthalle, and the one who
had the inside track to the gallery as both guarantor and cultural
mediator of the commercial values the gallery produced.

Starting with these premises, I organized the seminar around an analysis of materials I also added the names of artists I was learning about in the course of my research
relating to a limited number of major exhibitions held during the 1980s, and one for the preparation of the Documenta exhibition, such as Eran Schaerf, Matthew
show from the beginning of the 1970s that represented the necessary precedent Barney, Stan Douglas, Ulf Rollof, Luc Tuymans, Rachel Whiteread, and Konstantin
for this type of event. This early show was Documenta 5, held in Kassel in 1972 Zvezdochetov.
and organized by Harald Szeemann, a seminal example of the curator. The other
shows discussed were von hier aus, curated by Kasper Knig in Dsseldorf (1984); I also brought four of my Prato students to Kassel on long-term internships, while
Sonsbeek 86, curated by Saskia Bos in Arnhem, the Netherlands; Chambres damis, other interns came from Le Magasin, the University of Hildesheim, and even from
curated by Jan Hoet in Ghent, Belgium (1986); and Skulptur: Projekte in Mnster, Tokyo. I still consider nearly all these interns to be among the best assistants I have
curated by Klaus Bussmann and, again, Knig (1987). For all the shows, I supplied ever had.
the widest range of materials I could find, so we could examine and discuss not only
the artistic project, which in any case was fundamental, and the participation of the So the training I proposed was composed of a theoretical-historical-critical part for
artists - that is, the live substance of the shows - but also the procedures and products all the Prato students and work in the field for those I brought to Kassel. Direct
involved in the communication of the event, from newsletters to catalogues, as well involvement in such an important show as Documenta, which ever since Szeemann
as the events graphics and image - its architecture, budget, and the response it has been justifiably considered the mother of all major exhibitions, provided
received from the public and specialist and general media. In short, I wanted to student interns with an enriched experience that became all the more complex both
introduce the future curators in the seminar not only to project theory, but also to all in their interaction with individual artists (and particularly certain artists, such as
the other practical factors that combine in constructing an exhibition and gauging Jimmie Durham, Ilya Kabakov, Vera Frenkel, and Mario Merz) - which was at times
its results. quite intense, almost to the point of being exclusive - and in their involvement with
the directors of various sectors (curatorial, technical, and managerial).
In 1991, Amnon Barzel, the first director of the Luigi Pecci Center in Prato, had
the good idea of founding the first school for curators in Italy; unfortunately, the In the mid-nineties, I took part in two consecutive courses in the visual arts
school lasted only one year. This was where I devoted my greatest efforts, though I administration program that had just been developed by Teresa Gleadowe at the
was also very busy at the same time in Kassel as co-director of Documenta 9. The Royal College of Art in London. Like the Prato program, this was for postgraduates,
course I taught was for postgraduate students, unlike that at Le Magasin, but most but it lasted two years rather than one. In this way, it differed from both the Grenoble
of my students, especially the Italian ones, who represented about half the group, and Prato programs, and from the course later organized by Saskia Bos at De Appel in
were sadly lacking in the necessary educational background. I decided, therefore, Amsterdam, where I happened to be involved with some of the programs theoretical
to begin the course by supplying students with a list of artists names, so they and organizational aspects. For the Royal College course, I once again introduced
could then, either individually or in groups, conduct bibliographic research using the materials on exhibitions for discussion by students, but instead of choosing shows
archives at the Center for Information and Documentation of the Visual Arts, which from the recent past, I selected examples from the current year. I attempted, together
I had helped organize in 1983-1988 as part of the Pecci Center. My list included with the students, to analyze what was happening in the immediate present and
artists who, though of fundamental importance for the history of contemporary art what was changing in the world of art events, especially, how young curators,
over the last twenty years, were completely unknown to the students - from the that newly defined professional category, were advancing their various operative
happenings movement, to Fluxus, to the 1980s European artists mentioned above. proposals at a time of great openness and transformation in the art world.

20 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 21

The very eroticism that had more or less
subtly characterized the curator of the 1980s
was diluted in favor of the functional success
of the enterprise; meanwhile, desire, another
fundamental motivation of the old curators,
was converted into an explicit thirst for power.

I think this was the moment when I started to feel fed up with the figure of the curator, other words, the system wound up reproducing itself, adapting to new contexts, case
in particular, with the up-and-coming young curator, whose training I had, to a small by case, in a rapid expansion and multiplication that would soon reach a planetary
degree, been involved with over the previous five or six years. The young curators level parallel to (though not in direct homogeneous conjunction with) the process of
ambition, which at times bordered on convulsion, was to manage a situation that economic globalization. In this new situation, the young curator ended up similarly
was becoming more open and fragmented by the day and, for precisely this reason, having to conform or, at best, negotiate with the established system.
required someone capable of standing up to the power of the marketplace and the
mass media or of forming precarious alliances with them. Indeed, over the previous This was when I started to turn down offers for other teaching positions in this sector.
decade, the marketplace and the mass media - one with a shrewd eye on profit, Instead, I began to accept another type of offer: to work in art schools, where I would
the other recklessly promoting a culture of mass spectacle and sensationalism - had be involved with art students and young artists, who, while they, too, must find a
become the sole arbiters of quality and value thanks to the weakening of the filters place in this same field of activity, approach the problem through the construction
of history and critical and project theory, which I have described. People attempted and definition of a work - which for better or worse always has the quality of a gift
to compensate for this loss of memory by using slogans and buzzwords to simulate - rather than through the proposal of a strategy or a tactic whose validity is measured
thought, when no thought existed, on the explosion of the contemporary, which the in the quantitative terms of success or failure.
traditional categories of Western culture were no longer capable of comprehending.
Rather than to develop a project, the idea was to grasp opportunities in which to try
out ones operative capacities, with the rewards going to those with the strongest Capalle, summer 2004
managerial and communicative abilities. In this process, art became comparable,
on the management level, to the mass production from which it had always stood
apart, shielded by an autonomy historically achieved during the Enlightenment. In
this situation, young curators found themselves developing macroscopic egos, equal
to that of the artist, but without the artists faculty of producing a work that, however
subtle, fragile or ephemeral, could never be completely identified with the kind of
pure event represented by the exhibition. While the artwork could penetrate into
the world and become a part of it - obtaining citizenship, as it were, and providing
ballast for the ego of the artist in the reality of his own time while, last but not least,
freeing the individual from the prison of his ego - the action of the young curator
had the consistency, stability, and durability of an iridescent soap bubble. The very
eroticism that had more or less subtly characterized the curator of the 1980s was
diluted in favor of the functional success of the enterprise; meanwhile, desire, another
fundamental motivation of the old curators, was converted into an explicit thirst for
power. The art system itself, which had undergone great transformations in other
periods, was no longer being challenged at all but, instead, was being reinforced
and confirmed in the solidity of its structure, if not in its individual components. In

22 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 23


Robert Fleck

Robert Fleck
is curator and critic.
Teaching curatorship? Of course, we all remember the first time we heard someone Some years later, beginning around 1968, a new figure did appear: the independent
He was director of
answer the question, What did you study? by saying, I studied curatorship. This organizer of contemporary-art exhibitions. It was then that the German language,
ERBAN-Ecole Regionale sentence was first pronounced about ten years ago, not long after the first specialized with all the simplicity of the May 68 movement, came up with the perfect word
des Beaux-Arts in
classes in curatorial studies appeared. Our first reaction was one of astonishment: for this new art-world figure: Ausstellungsmacher. The German expression was
Nantes (France) and
is currently director of What in the world is this?! Why should anyone study curatorship in an academic translated into French as faiseur dexpositions. With the word faiseur, which
the Deichtorhallen in context? What can you learn by studying curatorship at a university or art school, came from the world of the circus, the French term underscored the implications
institutions that have nothing to do with exhibitions? But at the same time, those of the German word Macher, which suggests a practical person without any
of us who never had an opportunity to go to curating school - simply because such specific intellectual or academic background. For several years, English-language
programs did not exist before the 1980s - might feel a kind of jealousy towards these art magazines used the term exhibition maker. The connotations are clear: the
young people who could put curatorial studies on their rsums. organization of big and independent exhibitions of contemporary or, as we said in
the seventies, avant-garde art was associated with pragmatism and experience in
Today, curatorial studies have become a frequent point of reference for any young the art field. The Ausstellungsmacher was someone who had spent many years in
art critic or exhibition organizer. Is this good or bad? The first answer might be: the art world, usually without being employed by a traditional institution, organizing
neither, it is simply a historical phenomenon. Curatorial training has become a new exhibitions outside or inside museums and influencing the way art is considered,
and important area of investment for both students and educational institutions, and created, and looked at. In the eighties, people of my generation considered the
most of the new generation of exhibition curators, both inside and outside institutions, designation Ausstellungsmacher to be a honor. Have you ever been told you are
have been trained in such programs. This appears to be one of the main structural an intellectual? This implies that you are an independent person who expresses
phenomena in contemporary art at the beginning of the twenty-first century. ideas that have an impact on public opinion. When you first hear yourself called
an intellectual, you may feel a certain commitment to this vocation. If you were
The history of art is replete with innovations in art institutions, exhibitions, public designated an Ausstellungsmacher, you might feel a similar sense of commitment.
relations, and finances, as well as in schools and teaching. The present form But to do what? To be independent, to stay close to artists, and to show art that goes
of the art academy is only about a hundred and fifty years old. Current forms of beyond institutional or commercial interest.
instruction in art history are even younger. The teaching of art at universities as a
historical subject and empirical science was developed during the second half of the In the 1980s, the word curator was not part of the European art vocabulary.
nineteenth century. The exhibition as an independent medium emerged only in the A curator was someone who worked in a museum and was dependent on the
twentieth century, primarily since the surrealist exhibition of 1938. The concept of institutional administration and the conservative structures that dominate the world
the commercial art gallery as a place of exhibition is even more recent. Such galleries of the museum. The Ausstellungsmacher was a counter-figure to the museum
did not exist before the 1940s. In the fifties and sixties, art criticism developed into curator. By definition, he was free of any institutional dictates and directly connected
a profession, with Clement Greenberg (who was still mainly a painter) and Pierre to artists and their research. During the eighties, only a very few people acceded to
Restany being the first freelance art critics who exerted a major influence on the the stature of independent Ausstellungsmacher. One of these was Pontus Hulten,
evolution of contemporary art without being associated with a particular museum a former art student in Paris associated with Jean Tinguely; he became the most
or newspaper. significant inventor of new forms of museums and exhibitions since the sixties. Then
there was Harald Szeemann, a former theater actor. As director of the Kunsthalle

24 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 25

It was in 1990 and 1991 that the word Curatorship has always been taught, but it
curator was established in the art world to was previously taught in different spheres and
designate an independent person organizing institutions: in museums and university classes
exhibitions. At the same time, the word in art history. What is new is the fact that,
Ausstellungsmacher disappeared. just as curatorship is now independent of the
museum, so is the teaching of curatorship.

Bern, Szeemann developed a smooth, very precise, but unspectacular program in Something had suddenly changed in the art world. It was the independent curators,
the 1960s before organizing at the same institution the legendary exhibition When and no longer museums and art galleries, who were introducing new artists and
attitudes become form in 1969 (with the important sponsorship by Phillip Morris). trends in the 1990s. This was a paradigm shift that made possible such non-
Szeemann then left his job in Bern in order to develop independent projects at other institutional biennials as Manifesta. And this continues to be the backdrop for the
institutions, the first being Happening & Fluxus at the Klnischer Kunstverein in current decade.
1970, which was one of the biggest sensations in the history of exhibitions during
the second half of the twentieth century (there had never been such an important Where did all these young curators come from? First of all, the Ausstellungsmacher
exhibition about these art movements). By this time, Szeemann had been nominated of the sixties, seventies, and eighties were always themselves teaching curating,
artistic director of Documenta 5 (Kassel, 1972). While this latter exhibition gave self- albeit very informally and to unstructured groups of people. For instance, there are a
confidence to the marginalized avant-garde art scene of the seventies, it received the number of us who feel that it was Kasper Knig who taught us what may be called
most severe response from professional art critics of any Documenta. The American curatorship, and he did it independently of any traditional institution. How did he do
art critic Barbara Rose, for instance, wrote that Szeemann was the sole artist in the it? In 1987, he became director of the school of fine arts in Frankfurt, transforming
exhibition. The idea that the importance of the exhibition curator might overshadow it into a hive of activity where one could always meet interesting people; at the same
the artists and their work was born with Documenta 5. time, he continued to concentrate on exhibitions as the major platform between
the artist, the artwork, the curator, the public, and the museum. Though with a
After Hulten and Szeemann, only a few independent exhibition makers appeared different personal background, Szeemann was doing the same thing; he was always
during the seventies and eighties. Kasper Knig (Skulptur: Projekte in Mnster, teaching curatorship to those who worked with him.
1977, with Klaus Bussmann; Westkunst, 1981, in Cologne, with Laszlo Glozer; Von
hier aus, 1984, in Dsseldorf) had also worked for Pontus Hulten. Jean-Christophe What changed during the nineties was that curatorial training itself became
Ammann organized a brilliant exhibition series at Kunsthalle Basel before moving institutionalized. Or rather, it became better organized. Today, we see a great variety
to Frankfurt. Rudi Fuchs had been very influential thanks to his work in Eindhoven, of curating courses. There are good ones and bad ones; some are academically
Netherlands, before his Documenta 7 in 1982. The list of Ausstellungsmacher or structured, while others have more open structures that follow the flow of art.
independent curators was very small during the eighties. Only one person from
the new generation emerged during these years, namely, Dan Cameron, with the The second point I would like to make is that curatorship has always been taught,
exhibition Art and Its Double (New York and Madrid). but it was previously taught in different spheres and institutions: in museums and
university classes in art history. What is new is the fact that, just as curatorship is
It was in 1990 and 1991 that the word curator was established in the art world to now independent of the museum, so is the teaching of curatorship. If you view the
designate an independent person organizing exhibitions. At the same time, the word issue from this perspective, the whole debate over whether teaching curatorship is
Ausstellungsmacher disappeared. Over the next two years, the collapse of communism something good or bad just disappears. There are only two questions that remain:
and the outbreak of new wars (Iraq) led to a profound crisis in the art world. Many Why is the teaching of curatorship now independent of museums? And, what does
young curators were asked by galleries to make exhibitions with emerging artists whose this tell us about the future of museums, and of art and the art world? Of course,
names were still unknown. Others organized their own independent spaces. These there is also a third question: How, today, can teaching be organized effectively?
exhibitions were made on a small budget, but several of them had great impact.

26 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 27


Alice Vergara-Bastiand

Key Words
Alice Vergara-Bastiand Key words, (some) didactic aims and pedagogical attitudes:
is the co-ordinator of
the Ecole du Magasin in
Grenoble. internationalism
curator = author + producer
curatorial practices are far from getting status, notoriety or position
collaborative projects = an effective (always painful) means of ego limitation
evaluation = be critical!

28 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 29


Viktor Misiano

Terms of Engagement:
A Conversation
with Teresa Gleadowe
Teresa Gleadowe In a text published a few years ago in that there is an enormous risk of reducing been absorbed by the contemporary art routine so that we can ensure that
is director of the masters
degree program in ARCO Noticias, I described curatorial curatorial instruction to an institutional museums and galleries of Western Europe works of art are transported safely and
Curating Contemporary activity in the countries of the European routine, to the production of art-system and it becomes problematic to identify securely, that handling and conservation
Art at the Royal College
East as having a curator without the managers and bureaucrats. But at the the system now to be overturned. Is it requirements are observed, that budgets
of Art in London.
Cofunded by the Royal system. In fact, in the process of trying same time, this is the system used to the market? Is it the museum? Is it the are adequate, that insurance is in place,
College and Arts Council to establish this new professional role establish the professional criteria of assimilation of art into the entertainment that schedules are feasible, that deadlines
England, this two-year
full-time course is in a context that never knew it before curatorship, so you cant avoid it. How, industry, the ubiquity of the culture are met, that publications are accurate
the first postgraduate and, because of the economic and in your curating course, do you combine of spectacle, the machinations of the and on time. These are not skills that can
program in Britain to
specialize in curatorial social conditions, could not support it an openness to experimentation and media? Is it the whole vast system of be acquired in the abstract. A curating
practice as it relates institutionally, I very soon came up with exploration with the unavoidable initiation shared values and exchanges that now course such as ours provides opportunities
to contemporary art.
the idea of putting together a curatorial into a professional discipline? constitutes the global art world? to learn professional discipline in the
Arts Council funding
provides the core program. For two years, from 1993- When I wrote the text for ARCO, I wanted to context of live projects, and to discover
budget for the annual 1995, I ran the Curators Development question Kasper Knigs rather pessimistic So I am not apologetic about the need the importance of responsibility, honesty,
exhibitions presented
by students in the Royal Workshop in Moscow, whose aim was assumption that curating courses can for institutional practices. Our students clarity, efficiency, and practicality in all
College of Art galleries not to teach students how to behave only affirm what is there and propagate want to find new ways of presenting forms of curatorial engagement. These
(see accompanying
illustrations) and also within a system, since this system was a status quo. As I remarked later in the and looking at art, but they know that are professional tools, but they do not
contributes to the costs non-existent, but rather, to develop article, Kasper is a leading member of a they need to follow certain professional determine a curators values, ambitions,
of overseas field trips
the system, to build it up. That school generation of curators whose practice was protocols if they are to achieve this goal. and desires.
and student placements.
Teaching is provided by was a paradoxical experience, in that I defined in opposition to the system. For They are aware that they need to acquire
course tutors and by a was teaching something that was still that generation it was abundantly clear professional competence, but this does I was talking recently to an artist who
wide range of visiting
curators, critics, and only virtual - was initiating something that the status quo had to be overturned, not imply acceptance of the status quo. expressed concern that a curating
artists. The course in a domain that was itself in the in so far as it represented an understanding program might dispel doubt, that it
also has a teaching
partnership with the Tate. process of being initiated. That process of art that denied any possibility of agency We are often reminded how much the might promulgate certainties and rote
was absolutely free and creative, but in the world. Values shifted from the curators role has changed in the last two responses. But then he corrected himself
inevitably, it also was not determined by passive to the active, from protection or three decades, but some aspects of and observed that artists, too, go to
any articulated professional criteria. and preservation to communication and curatorial practice have remained constant. school and there is no expectation that an
In a text you published recently (also presentation. And the focus of curatorial For instance, writing and communication art college will teach certain approved
in ARCO Noticias), you took issue with work shifted from the study of historical remain central to a curators practice. You ways in which to make art. I think it can
a comment made by our respected objects to an engagement with artists and need to be articulate if you are to think be the same with a curating program; it
colleague Kasper Knig, who suggested ideas in relation to a wider understanding with any precision about your intentions provides an arena in which to work, an
that curatorship programs could only of the social and political environment. and goals. So writing assignments of many introduction to certain techniques, and a
institutionalize young curators, teaching Many of the values and attitudes different kinds are a key component of discipline and history to be interrogated.
them the roles in the system. I agree promoted by that generation have now our program. We also teach institutional

30 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 31

The exhibition Let me refer again to my own curator Of course my approach was a response But another overwhelming necessity is When I started my workshop in 1993, I In 2002 the annual
democracy!, presented course exhibition took
in the Royal College of workshop. As I said, my aim was not to to very specific circumstances, but that a curating program must provide was conscious of the fact that the final the form of an art fair,
Art galleries in 2000, instruct students about how to behave still it makes me wonder: what is more opportunities for the practice of exhibition- aim of the project was not merely didactic, bringing together fourteen
explored collaborative galleries, agencies and
in the system but how to build it up. So productive in a course of instruction - making; for me this is the most important but also initiatory and promotional. To
relationships and socially artist-run organisations
engaged practice. The my effort was not simply to provide them pedagogical methodology or the presence difference between arts management teach something means to legitimize it from all over the world.
Los Angeles-based artist with professional know-how but mostly to of a master? In teaching such a specific courses and curating programs. Students publicly as an autonomous practice and For this exhibition,
Dave Muller presented FAIR, the Cologne-based
his Three Day Weekend seduce them. I was trying to convince my practice as curatorship, which lies involved in working with artists to make science. Was that the same with you gallery BQ presented
in a structure created students that the world of art, despite not between theory and authorship, what is an exhibition in a real space and for a when you initiated your program in the a brief history of the
by the London-based gallerys activities since
collaborative ARTLAB having a very clear career perspective, is more important: historical and theoretical real audience immediately confront early nineties? its inauguration in
(Charlotte Cullinan and an attractive one and worth dedicating knowledge or the personal charisma of an problems, questions, dilemmas that must Here there is a marked contrast between October 1988.
Jeanine Richards).
their life to. So while giving students the experienced colleague? be considered not just hypothetically but the context in Moscow and the situation
conditions and opportunities for doing Like you, we have always believed in actuality. They quickly discover that in Britain in the early nineties. When the
experimental curatorial projects, the major in the importance of encounters with there are relatively few issues that can be curating course was initiated at the Royal
focus was on encounters with participants inspirational practitioners. We invite a resolved as a matter of routine. College of Art in 1992, with funding from
in the Russian and international scenes. very wide range of visitors, from diverse the Arts Council, it was set up to fill a
Avoiding any sort of typical theoretical and backgrounds and different generations, to There are changing fashions in the curatorial gap in the training available to curators
historical lectures, the whole course was complement the more formal aspects of world as in any other and our students also of contemporary art. There were already
an escalation of flamboyant appearances the course - teaching offered by course need to be alert to the dominance of certain several academic courses and training
by artists of various generations, as staff in art history, critical theory, and forms of contemporary practice. Perhaps programs in Britain, in art history,
well as gallerists, museum curators, curatorial studies. We need to hear how this is another way of understanding museum studies, and arts management,
critics, and philosophers. I considered artists, critics, and curators talk about art Kasper Knigs remark about the status and these provided an environment
that the dynamic personality could be a and ideas. In the early years of the course quo. I would certainly agree with him, if against which this new program would
productive example of how an individual we were also aware that there was very he means that a curating program must define itself. There were also a small
who creates him- or her-self in the midst little literature about the exhibitions of the strive to maintain a critical relationship number of publicly funded galleries
of social chaos is inevitably building the past, so we needed to collect oral history. with whatever emerges as the current dedicated to contemporary art, some of
social context. And in fact, not all of I believe, as you do, that these meetings orthodoxy. which had been active since the sixties
my students are curators now - indeed, are of central importance to any serious and seventies. So there were models to
most are not - but many of them have curating program, and are what make We have to accept, I suppose, that only examine here, and, from the outset, we
really changed the scene, by establishing the teaching on such programs distinct. recently has curatorship (and especially, also took the students on overseas trips to
galleries, developing cultural or art Exposure to a wide range of protagonists independent curatorship) finally been look at art and institutions elsewhere.
sections in daily newspapers, creating helps students to determine their own recognized as a specific professional
new magazines, and so on. priorities and goals. discipline. For me, the appearance of Initially, there was considerable skepticism
curatorial schools is a confirmation of this. about the idea of teaching curating, and

32 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 33

Olafur Eliassons Room this really only decreased as the program But we also recognize that the majority of essay for The Straight or Crooked Way, Its interesting to me that there has also Specially commissioned
for One Colour, 1998, for The Straight or
seen through the central began to present exhibitions and publish our graduates will go on to work in existing an exhibition curated last year by students been a marked revival of interest in artists Crooked Way 2003,
doorway of Sancho catalogues. Once audiences found that these institutions, and we try to encourage our on the course, drew parallels between such as Lygia Clark, Hlio Oiticica, yvind Ana Maria Tavaress
Silvas Wall Intervention Kensington Maze
exhibitions asked interesting questions, ad- students to bring a critical consciousness the experiential encounters staged by Fahstrm, and Ana Mendieta, whose
which was commissioned reconfigured the visitors
for the exhibition The dressed relevant issues, or simply showed into these established frameworks. the organizers of the 1938 International work presents particular problems for the encounter with the
Straight or Crooked Way art that they wanted to see, attitudes began Exhibition of Surrealism in Paris, and the curator because it has to be interpreted space, using scaffolding,
in 2003. ladders and walkways
to change. The course took on exhibition Even if we admit that there is no longer immersive experiences set up by artists and remade if it is to be rendered visible. that cut through the
projects that had not been attempted by any need to initiate curatorial practice, such as Olafur Eliasson, Henrik Plenge Curating courses are often very effective at galleries of the Royal
College of Art.
other institutions, and this again drew at- the theory of curatorial practice is still Jakobsen, and Carsten Hller. re-presenting work that has disappeared
tention to the possibility of new approaches very weak. You have complained that in from view and excavating lost histories.
or initiatives. the early years of your course there was Students are increasingly choosing to They can embrace the complex theoretical,
a lack of literature about the exhibitions write about aspects of curatorial history ethical, and technical problems thrown
So there is now growing recognition that there of the past and about the work of the or curatorial practice, and curating up by such scenarios, using them as a
is a professional practice called curating, curator. I have felt this vacuum until schools are developing research in this form of active research. A good example
but there is still very little agreement about now. Manifesta Journal, in fact, is the field. There is a strong interest in artists is the exhibition You are Here: Re-siting
what this practice constitutes. The idea of a first international periodical focused on whose work directly influences curatorial Installations organized by students on the
profession implies certain rules of conduct, that practice! Is it possible that curatorial thinking - artists such as Daniel Buren, course in 1997, or the re-fabrication of
an agreed code of professional practice. In courses and schools will contribute to Joseph Beuys, Felix Gonzales Torres, Vito Acconcis Collision House, 1981, for
curating, these have not yet been formalized. an interest in curatorial histories and Rirkrit Tiravanija, Andrea Fraser and the exhibition Playing amongst the Ruins,
We do not set out to teach professional approaches? How have they contributed Liam Gillick - as well as in artists such presented here in 2001.
ethics in any formal sense, but we aim to to the promotion of such values as as Marcel Broodthaers, Group Material,
make our students aware of a whole range transparency and self-reflexivity? or, more recently, Jeremy Deller, whose Since the mid-nineties there has been
of issues that impact on contemporary There is still relatively little literature of this practice is curatorial. much discussion of self-reflective
curatorial practice. For instance, we examine kind, but curating courses are certainly modes of curating, of the need for a
the conditions in which art is presented, contributing to an interest in researching transparency or performativity that
relationships with the market, funding curatorial approaches and the exhibitions will reveal the curators mediation of
agendas, the influence of such matters as of the past. Our program encourages the exhibition process. Curating courses
marketing, interpretation, and publication discussion of past exhibition models from have been active participants in the
on the experience of art. We hope that the perspective of the present, tracing exploration of these ideas, many of
our students will acquire the ability to read histories relevant to current practice, and which can be linked to the discourses of
what is going on around them, to examine we try to counteract a tendency to claim postmodernism. But amongst students on
underlying ideologies, and so to determine that every new development is without our program there is a persistent interest
their own curatorial values. precedent. For instance, the catalogue in more reticent modes of curatorial

34 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 35

In March/April 2004 practice, in art-historical research into many of these curators are making subtle their emphasis on contemporary art and the other, as offering, in the space of two Installation view of
the exhibition This Gerard Byrnes New
much is certain brought particular artists work, and in the and sometimes radical changes to their on critical practice, has undoubtedly years, the opportunity to learn what might Sexual Lifestyles, 2003,
together work by artists possibilities offered by the rethinking of environment. contributed to the shift from critic to otherwise take the best part of a decade. which features a re-
using documents and enactment of a panel
documentary. Within established exhibition genres. At a time curator in terms of prominence and But both stress that the curating course
discussion published
the galleries a specially when the curatorial gesture has become Our graduates take many different paths power. But, in economic terms, it is no more than a space, a framework, in the September
constructed cinema for 1973 issue of Playboy,
the film programme increasingly emphatic, our students often - working as curators in different types remains extraordinarily difficult for the a gateway, which provides professional
presented in the
showed a continuous appear more interested in discretion. of institutions, with collections as well independent curator to survive unless knowledge and critical understanding exhibition This much
programme of film
documentaries. View of as exhibitions, and as critics, editors, he or she is also a writer and teacher. of the workings of the art world. The is certain March/April
the cinema with still from Despite the development of curating private gallerists, commissioners, and Curating courses have not yet had much real work begins later, when the tools
Pumping Iron by George
Butler. schools and programs, there are many educators. In Britain, relatively few ope- impact on this reality. provided by a curating program are used
curators who have established their rate as independent agents, but this to build an individual practice.
position on the art scene without being is hardly surprising given the absence However, I believe that our course has
involved in this educational network. of opportunities or support structures had a strong influence at the institutional 22 July 2004
And that is true, I suppose, not only for for freelance curators. There are only a level. Many of our graduates end up
the East, but for West, too. So let me handful of British institutions that deal working in institutions, many of them
ask you a tough (and probably my last) seriously with contemporary art and in London, and one can discern their
question: Are curators who graduate from even fewer that commission independent influence in numerous ways. Curating
such programs the most interesting? curators to make exhibitions. There are programs encourage the discussion of
I suspect the people you have in mind no posts for adjunct curators and very ideas in a non-hierarchical setting, such
began their practice before the creation few opportunities of the kind one might as is seldom found in working situations.
of curating courses and perhaps it is too find in Italy or France, where a regional At the Royal College our students work
soon to tell whether the next generation government or city authority may invite together collaboratively to develop and
will be the products of curating programs. an independent curator to organize a realize their final exhibitions and so have
However, I think your question also one-off event in a particular location. to learn skills of advocacy and negotiation,
assumes that we have agreed criteria for to relish debate and the sharing of ideas.
judging the most interesting curators, Until the late eighties the freelance
and this seems dangerously close to the curator in Britain was usually a critic Two of our recent graduates, both of
adoption of a kind of star system, based (examples are David Sylvester and Guy whom came to the course with substantial
on fashion and visibility. As one of our Brett), who was invited to select an previous experience, have spoken in very
graduates has pointed out, There are so exhibition and to write about it, and similar terms of the opportunities offered
many curators working underneath the who did not necessarily engage with by the intensity of the program. One
radar of what the conventional art world the processes of exhibition-making. described it as a kind of curators utopia,
considers interesting (fashionable). Yet The creation of curating programs, with a space for research and development;

36 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 37


Catherine Hemelryk

Salad Days
Catherine Hemelryk I came to the Royal College of Art straight from my honors bachelors degree in fine it - and this interview was certainly one of my more terrifying experiences. The two Fom the exibition
has received her master This Much Is Certain,
degree in Curating
art at Newcastle University. I wanted to get a vocational masters degree that would years of the course provide you with training in the different areas of curatorship: 2004
Contemporary Art be both highly academic and practical. Over the past two years, I have received writing, commissioning, publishing, installation, fundraising, press and publicity, Left to right: works of
at the Royal College Gerard Byrne, works of
excellent instruction in art history and aesthetic philosophy, and my writing has academic research, project management, finances, and history - knowledge that
of Art, London and Daniel Baker, the talk by
BA (hons) Fine Art, improved enormously. What I liked about the course was its structure: the first year may be applied at any type of institution or agency or in freelance work. The course Nick Broomfield
Newcastle University. is largely theoretical, while the second year puts it all into practice. does not produce clones, thanks to the diversity of the people who participate and
She is currently working
as a freelance curator because of the variety of interests the course caters to; nor does it teach you to
before going onto a work Working with a group of twelve is inevitably trying, but it has left me with the capacity subscribe to some RCA point of view but, rather, to challenge yourself and develop
placement in 2005.
not only to think through subjects and find new approaches to ideas and problems, self-confidence. I believe the course is producing some really exciting curators who
but also to make my own ideas really solid and my ways of communicating clear are working in innovative ways, and I cannot wait to see what some of my fellow
and coherent. Alongside learning from my teachers, I learned from my course-mates, students will do in the future. Not everyone is going to be a superstar curator, and
all but one of whom were older than I and had vastly different experiences; many of many will go into solid, supportive jobs that get little glory but are, nonetheless,
them were international students. I was able to share with them areas I knew well, essential to the art world and create opportunities for others to shine.
such as how to physically put up a show and install artworks.
There is a definite added value to attending the course at the RCA, namely, this is a
The course gave us the opportunity to work with a sizable budget, such as is rarely prestigious institution and employers know that its graduates are competent. As art
available for a one-off show, especially for someone just out of university. Also, I come jobs become highly sought after and museum and gallery studies programs increase,
from a background where there was not a lot of money, so the college bursaries that I believe the reputation of the course will certainly be an asset for me in the future,
covered my fees and living costs allowed me to devote myself entirely to my studies especially as it has been in existence for over ten years now and has proved that it
for two years, and the courses travel budget took us all over the United Kingdom and produces bright graduates. The last two years have been hard work, but I leave with
Southeastern Europe to see work first-hand. For the exhibition This Much Is Certain - a sense of excitement about what I can do next. The course has really broadened my
in addition to working with two of the artists and their contributions to the exhibition horizons, and I am looking forward to what the future brings.
and publication, as well as with one of the speakers - I was in charge of the budget
and the website. For the exhibition with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Summer 2004
which we curated at Ibid Projects, I coordinated the installation and assisted on
talks and events. It was a great experience to engage in such roles and try different
things, and I am proud of the results, although, of course, there are things I would
do differently in the future.

As I am about to graduate, I feel that curatorship is something that can be taught

only if there is a kernel of talent within the student. If the application interviews to
get into the RCA course are so rigorous, it is because the organizers want to have
students who they feel will not only gain from the course but will also contribute to This Much Is Certain <>.

38 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 39


Nataa Petrein

with Saskia Bos
Saskia Bos The curatorial training program at the a more important reason is that working sight, the situation recalls a laboratory she or he is a theoretician, an agent, In 2003, she was an
is director of the De assistant to Ren Block
Appel Foundation in De Appel Foundation was established together is easier in a small group. Our environment, but I remember from my a producer of meaning, a manager of at the exhibition In the
Amsterdam and head in 1994, along the lines of a similar participants travel a lot; they meet the own experience that in practice even people and goods, a talent scout, and a Gorges of the Balkans
of its curatorial training at the Kunsthalle
program at Le Magasin in Grenoble, and curators of topical exhibitions and discuss more emphasis is put on the quality of mediator all at the same time. One of the
program, which she Fridericianum in
founded in 1994. Apart it soon become one of Europes most shows with them and with the artists the group dynamics and collaboration, great advantages of such a small group is Kassel. She participated
from shows for De Appel, important specialization programs for involved. Examples from last year include as well as on the constant negotiation also that you get accustomed to working in the De Appel
she has also curated curatorial training
several larger exhibitions, an emerging art profession. How was our visits to the Istanbul Biennial curated processes that take place through the as a team, which is both practical for program in 2002.
including among others the idea for the program conceived and by Dan Cameron and the Balkan show in duration of the program. We see similar the working environment on a day- She writes regularly
the 3rd Sculpture on contemporary and
Biennial Mnsterland in how did the training evolve over the first Kassel created by Ren Block. The two processes revealed in the tendency of to-day basis as well as for the kind of new media art and is a
2003, the 2nd Berlin few years? shows were completely different but both selecting teams of curators from different situation you have when you are working member of the editorial
Biennial in 2001, board of the online
The program was inspired by the program gave us an insight into what is shifting in backgrounds who then work together on a jury or a committee. I do think
Jetztzeit at the Kunsthalle review Artmargins.
Vienna in 1994, Aperto in Grenoble, yes, as it once existed - the Europe and into the points of view of the on an exhibition, biennial, or festival, that the constant process of negotiating
at the Venice Biennial one created by Jacques Guillot. But the curators. That is even more important for culminating in results that are more or that curators go through - both inside
in 1988, and the
Sonsbeek International Grenoble course is quite different now: an Asian or American student than for a less successful. What have you seen to the group and with the outside world
Sculpture exhibition in compared to what they do, we offer a student who would be traveling through be the most frequent advantages and - is a reality of the profession. It is very
1986. She has served
on several international short and intensive course that is truly Europe anyway. But the analysis and disadvantages, conceptual or emotional, important, though, to remain focused
juries and was president international, focuses on production and discussions are equally fruitful for all. of this kind of training? and to avoid compromising or making too
of International
on working with artists, and also provides To see your own continent through the The advantages outnumber the disadvan- many concessions.
Association of Curators of
Contemporary Art (IKT) extensive field research through trips to eyes of a colleague who is educated in tages, but lets be fair: there is a lot you
from 1999 to 2002. She exhibitions Europe-wide. What is more, a totally different part of the globe but cannot teach in seven or eight months, The profile of the curator of contemporary
was a member of the
advisory committee for participants form an autonomous zone has learned similar tools and read maybe so the participants need to have some art seems to avoid any more or less
the Yokohama Triennial within the institution they are part of, even comparable books is exciting. And experience even before they enter the firm definition of what the job actually
in 2001, and of the
nomination committee for and are thus invited to theorize about to have dialogues about criteria and to program. They should not expect to learn denotes and encompasses. Several
Documenta 11 in 1998. practice. fight for an artist you believe in can be the complex processes of acquisition, of todays most visible curators come
something that keeps a participant awake registration, or restoration of art objects. from backgrounds other than the study
Nataa Petrein
is a freelance curator What in your opinion are the most all night. But they do learn to think about models of of art history, which was until recently
based in Ljubljana. distinctive features of De Appels exhibitions and approaches to catalogue the primary educational background for
Currently she is curating
a media arts festival program in comparison with some other Throughout the program six or more essays, about education formats, about curators in contemporary visual arts. The
in Hull, England, European graduate curatorial courses or participants are involved in a collaboration press and communication, and about obvious question is: Can one actually
collaborating with e-
flux on its Video Rental ones in the United States? or teamwork model; they attend lectures ways to apply for funding and make learn the curatorial profession?
Project in New York, Our staff is small and has to be very together, do mostly collective work in budgets according to the money you Obviously one never stops learning,
and co-curating a tutorials, travel together, and in the end
flexible, and that is one of the reasons we can generate. Because obviously, the and especially as a curator, you have
computer arts festival in
Nova Gorica, Slovenia. have a limited number of participants. But produce a final project together. At first profession of curator has many aspects: to adjust to the ever-changing positions

40 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 41

To have dialogues about criteria I think that a curator has to have
and to fight for an artist you believe in a really intimate understanding
can be something that keeps of the artists work,
a participant awake all night. both physically and psychologically.

of artists and other cultural producers. I continue to be interested in their careers, It does have to do with my personal
The art-historical background is not the in how they develop. And we sometimes background. I had the unique opportunity
one and only requirement; we have had meet as we travel to smaller or bigger to study art history at Groningen University
students with an impressive knowledge international shows; thats when you try in the Netherlands when there were only
of art history and philosophy who never to catch up. Also, many of them are eager six students in a single academic year,
attended traditional art history classes. to meet students of other years from other who were taught by four professors from
I think that a curator has to have a really countries with whom they can exchange different fields. We had the keys to the
intimate understanding of the artists notes or make projects together. It is library and could study whenever we
work, both physically and psychologically. wonderful how this curatorial program has wanted. As to my professional career,
Maybe what counts most is the attitude, expanded from a platform to a network there were many opportunities given to
an interest in being a sparring partner for of collaboration, in a much stronger way me and I had a chance to work with
an artist, in dealing and negotiating with than I had initially imagined. interesting people in different countries.
and for that artist - the ability to visualize Our students, too, get a key to our
through the medium of an exhibition the This particular network, along with the institution, and many doors open in other
issues you are pondering and feeling in complex cultural and social position places when they want to meet an artist
works of art, to experience how different of contemporary art, has produced a or a curator or director who is willing to
artists and curators have dealt with kind of young army of curators. (The talk about the profession. Quick access
works of art and with the spaces around military metaphor is borrowed from to knowledge is the key; you become the
them, with light and shadow, and with Gilane Tawadros, who draws a parallel proud owner of cultural capital and have
audiences and communications. And between colonialist cultural workers - for to find a way to share it.
also with a sense of enigma: a show is instance, from the Napoleonic era - who
not a book you read about art. traveled with armies in order to explore
still undiscovered geographical regions
Recently you have invited former and curators who explore either Third
program participants to contribute short World contemporary art or new trends
essays to an issue of Printed Project, a and new artists in general.) Nowadays
journal on contemporary art published people have a wide range of choices
in Dublin, for which you were a guest for their curatorial education, either in
editor. Do you maintain a network of academia or through contemporary art
former participants in other specific centers and foundations. I would like
ways? And do you tend to follow their to know how you got involved in the
individual careers after they finish the curating of contemporary art and what
program? your curating education consisted of?

42 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 43


Rainer Ganahl

When Attitudes
Become - Curating
Rainer Ganahl The 747 was born out of the explosion of the popularity of air travel in the 1960s. mass-consuming global village in which everybody potentially conversed with
is an artist living in New
York. More information:
The enormous popularity of the Boeing 707 had revolutionized long distance travel everybody else without any special regard for production and class relations. in the world, and had begun the concept of the global village made possible by
the jet revolution.... The first edition of the jet, the 747-100, rolled out of the new The new era of national protest and racial and sexual liberation took off. The birth
Boeing 747,
Wikipedia: The Free Everett facility on 2 September 1969.1 control pill, live television news reporting in the field, portable and affordable video
Encyclopedia, retrieved cameras, the first computers and consumer electronics made the world fun and
8 November 2004, from
<http://en.wikipedia. In 1969, Playboy magazine printed an interview with Marshal McLuhan entitled promiscuous - until the oil crisis, AIDS, and terrorism darkened the scene. The
org/wiki/Boeing _ 747>. A Candid Conversation with the High Priest of Popcult and Metaphysician of terror attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics coincided with the beginning of live TV
See The Essential
Media.2 field journalism, with mobile cameras taking viewers outside the television studio.
McLuhan, edited by Eric Artists and intellectuals celebrated this new world. They, too, entered the field with
McLuhan and Frank
When Attitudes Become Form3 proposals and international exhibitions that were independent of museums and
Zingrone (New York:
Basic Books, 1995), galleries. Ausstellungsmacher - exhibition makers - became welcome and necessary
53-74. One particular day that made a special impression on me as a child was the day figures who could sort out existing disorders and create new ones. Harald Szeemann
Title of exhibition we drove to the Zurich airport. Nobody was being dropped off or picked up; we referred to his office as Bro fr geistige Gastarbeit - the Office of Intellectual Guest-
curated by Harald ourselves couldnt even imagine what it meant to fly on a plane since we didnt know Work - borrowing the German term Gastarbeit, usually reserved for the then-new
Szeemann at Kunsthalle
Bern, March-April 1969.
anybody who lived more than a thirty-minute drive away. We went to the airport in phenomenon of unskilled migrant industrial workers from the East who had come to
order to see the first jumbo jet, the Boeing 747, which had left the factory in 1969 work in Western Europe. Gastarbeiter were perceived as foreigners - as they still are
and was making its first flight for PanAm in 1970. On that same occasion, we went perceived, even after generations, receiving only very meager help with the process
on to visit another novelty of the early 1970s, a newly constructed shopping center of integrating into society. Capital, labor, services, and products traveled and were
next to the highway outside Zurich. Our family never visited a museum or even a exchanged from one country to the next, and art, as always, tried to keep up with
bookshop or library. the pace. Today, curators themselves are, more often than not, free agents without
any direct association with an institution. Szeemann, too, defines his role as a free
The exhibition When Attitudes Become Form would not have been possible without agent, even though he has had loose but consistent institutional associations. The
the jet revolution. Harald Szeemann, who worked at the Kunsthalle Bern, had same may be said about many other well-known contemporary-art curators, who,
traveled to the United States, where he became acquainted with contemporary even when employed by a museum or gallery, are still perceived as independent
American art. This new art was made by artists who had started traveling by airplane and available to be hired for any show anywhere in the world if the offer is attractive
and so were mobile. This mobility changed not only society, but art as well. In my enough, that is, in terms of prestige and remuneration.
view, conceptual art was the first 747 art form to factor transportation and mobility
into the decision-making. Marshal McLuhans medium is the message conversion Today, the art system has become so complex and sophisticated that any role can be
soon dominated all conversation that defined art: language- and concept-related adopted by any player in the game. More and more, we see artists who collect, curate,
works emerged, and artists started to communicate. Although it was Karl Marx who write, and deal in art, as well as collectors, writers, and curators who make art and
first discussed machines and tools as extensions of organs and the body, it was reflect on artistic production as writers and art historians. Interestingly, even Szeemann
McLuhan who reworked this idea in the vision of a happily communicating and - and not only Hans-Ulrich Obrist - was unable to resist taking on the role of the artist:

44 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 45

Reading Frantz Fanon, He participated in the Tirana Biennial 2003, where he had some silk-screens made. making? Here at home, I study Chinese and Arabic; I write texts; I try to sell my Imported - A Reading
192 books, New York Seminar...(Russian
City, November 2003 Another example of mixing roles is this very text, which was commissioned by Viktor art; and I frantically try to organize my money, recuperate debts from others, curate Version), Moscow, 1995
Misiano, a trained art historian who has become a curator, publisher, critic, and shows, advise dealers. I even collect art. Currently, there are up to twenty people
director of an art center. (I am deputy director of the State Center for Museums and producing my artistic work for me in various places, on various continents, for various
Exhibitions. I am editing my Moscow Art Magazine. I am curating, publishing, writing, shows, and with various sources of financial support. All this is partially done by
and so on.) Misiano commissions me, an artist, to write a text on how to teach people who are not artists and who do not understand the art. If my computer is an
curating. He does not ask me for an artwork, he asks for a pedagogical essay. interface, I am an interbrain, a decision-making body processing and producing
information. In this new, twisted, and multilayered context, curators have to create,
It cannot be stressed enough that these changes are the product of a dramatically too, and not only find their specific niche.
changing society and its constantly improving technologies. Therefore, other domains
are also changing. I give here only three basic, unrelated examples, but ones that Recently, curating has become institutionalized; it has turned into a discipline that
artists and curators have begun to think about. is taught academically. Classes in curatorship are now being created everywhere: at
universities, art schools, museums, auction houses, and so on. In the current period
- Banking: I now pay with money I do not have and make financial transactions by of deskilling and artistic outsourcing, the question, What does one teach curators?
means of my computer and mobile telephone. I shift virtual money - a euphemism for my is about as impossible to answer as, What does one teach artists? I am convinced
debts - from one credit card to another and feel that I am being lured into greater debt. I that the recipe for a good curator is the same as for anybody who succeeds in life,
have started to believe that my expanding credit allowance is actually money I own. whatever field they are in. It is an elixir I locate in the persons themselves. It is a
basic understanding of who we are, of where we are from, of how we are living, of
- Food: I have food delivered, or I take it out; I freeze it and microwave it. I also what we want, and of what we can do. This che voi? (Italian, What do you want? -
supplement my food with highly processed vitamins, proteins, and whatever else I Lacan) is crucial in shielding us from the things other people want us to want, to do,
think I need, which does not often resemble anything like food or, indeed, anything to buy, to believe, to sell, to say, and to fight for. Concerning art and the artist, I really
natural. And when I cook my own food, I use easy-to-follow instructions and pre- do not have a preference as long as I can see that a person takes a genuine interest
prepared substances. Needless to say, part of my foot is now manipulated, designed in what they are doing, an interest that is not opportunistic, externally driven, or
to certain specifications in size, durability, flavor, and composition. remote-controlled by trends and dominant formations of taste. Curators, too, should
learn to distinguish between motivations or interests that are intrinsic and logical
- Work is another basic activity undergoing drastic change: Today, we work at home; and those that are not. On top of that, they have to figure out what kind of art they
we work in teams via computers without ever seeing each other; we work three jobs would like to defend, for whom, and why. They also have to find inventive ways to
or more at the same time. We choose, outsource, and subcontract parts of our work put their vision respectfully into practice without the total exploitation of the artist or
or entire productions; we work in multiple places around the world simultaneously of anybody else involved in the making of a show.
with our digital arms, voices, eyes, and brains.
Everybody should be able to give answers to the question of why they do what they
Is it any wonder, then, that I - in the role of artist - make my curators paint my do. These answers should be intrinsic to the job itself. Money, power, and the love
paintings and my dealers do my drawings and take on part of my artistic decision- of banking should not dominate curatorial or artistic decision-making, though such

46 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 47

Imported - A Reading things can never be avoided. But we all know people who are motivated solely by one optical device for looking outside our windows. In many ways, this course
Seminar... (US Version),
Florida, 1994 the social context in which they project themselves without any authentic interest in did change my way of thinking and doing things, if it did not actually change the
what they do. Many are curators who only work with prestigious artists from high- direction of my life. This was not because of the social contacts I made during the
See <http://www.
powered galleries who will bring them a guarantee of status. This merely reinforces program, but because of what we discussed, what we read, and what we focused
html>. the artistic and curatorial status quo without challenging it - and sometimes without on. Eventually, I found a way to reformulate my art-making and thinking that can
even comprehending it. Curators not only should understand artists and know be traced, at least in part, back to the two years I spent there. A couple of years
how to listen to them; they should also understand their own role in the constant later, I was invited to Grenoble, where a curatorial cole was created. Whereas
remaking of todays complex cultural and political landscapes. Everything we do, the Whitney program did not provide any funding and was equipped only with
as visitors, collectors, curators, artists, or dealers, is part of an ongoing, endless a photocopy machine, the Le Magasin program in France offered grants, travel
shaping and reshaping of aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual standards that have a stipends, and other kinds of opportunities lacking in the program in New York. To
broader political, social, and ideological impact. Cultural and intellectual formations my surprise, in France, nobody was interested in art or in any subject I proposed
may be liberating or oppressive, and may have extensive repercussions not only on for discussion. The only thing they talked about was, How did you get your book
the psychology of individuals but also on general politics. Right now in the United published? How do you get in there? and so on. Traveling and social networking
States, in the post-9/11 period, cultural institutions and universities are under greater were privileged over reading and discussing culturally important issues.
pressure to be complicit with right-wing politics and to encourage a terrifying culture
of general mistrust and eavesdropping. Academic departments that are critical Lets now look at the question of power for some of these relevant cultural agents.
of this lose their funding; political speech is being discouraged and subjected to As I pointed out earlier, cultural roles are becoming more diversified, more difficult
intimidation; artists are threatened with lawsuits; and independent media outlets risk to define, and somehow interchangeable in this always-shifting landscape. Yet this
being silenced. A certain group that opposes the war against Iraq has not yet been is not a sign that the power and influence inherent to such roles are evaporating. If
able to purchase advertising space on Times Square for a message denouncing war. artists curate a show or collect art, they produce the same effects on the distribution
Currently, there are several lawsuits still pending against artists, and I myself may be of power and influence as when someone who is solely a curator or solely a
one of them, given my U.S. postal stamp project, which plays with symbolic civil collector does it. As an artist, I have had some rather troubling experiences with
disobedience.4 Today, everybody must understand that he or she is part of a larger artist-curators. Some of them have assumed the power of the curator but not the
discourse that shapes our public and private spheres. responsibilities of curating. During the selection process they were reasoning like
curators, but during the organizational phase they acted like artists: that is, they
Years ago, I happened to be part of the Whitney Museums Independent Study showed little respect to the artists work. Artists have the right to see the world
Program, which puts artists, curators, and writers together in a course for people through their works and should be allowed to deal with their artworks in whatever
who hope somehow to succeed in the highly competitive field of cultural production. way they decide. But when they assume the role of curator, they have to change
During that formational year, we worked together without much discussing art and their viewpoint and need to respect the other artist and their works. Of course,
the usual politics that surrounds it. Art seemed almost a taboo topic that was better people who are professionally solely curators can act irresponsibly, too. I am going
addressed in the back rooms and corridors than in the regular and frequent plenary now to be very specific and polemical and use examples from my own experience,
discussions. We were expected to read books and had to work through countless both positive and negative. I might risk consternation at both extremes. There are
photocopies of articles relevant to the discussion on the cultural front. Art was only many curators, more than I can list here, with whom I have been pleased and

48 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 49

See <http://www. honored to work, and the results have been excellent. Also, generally speaking, most only two months before the scheduled opening. No rescheduling. In place of my Left and center: _ Imported - A Reading
txt.html>. curators have treated me with respect, intelligence, and generosity. Experiences on show, Bernard exhibited the work of an artist who fit much more smoothly into the Seminar...
the opposite end of the spectrum, while of course disappointing, have been relatively social context of the other artists then occupying his chic museum. In that case, the (Russian Version),
See <http://www. Moscow, 1995
minimal. Discussing the few times when things went wrong might add a bitter taste conflict was not about money or financial support, though Bernard used the funding
html>. to this essay, but these unfortunate experiences have not disenchanted me. Quite argument as a pretext. He had my written assurance that all costs would be covered Right:
the opposite, I have learned to understand that behind such conflicts - which can by resources other than his own. Imported - A Reading
See <http://www. Seminar...>. take on very personal and idiosyncratic forms - there are mostly structural problems (French Version),
that can be traced back to feeble financial support from the miserly communities Before I go into the positive territory of my best experiences with curators and Nice, 1994
that host these institutions. For the few negative cases, I have created web pages museum programmers, I would like to address the funding issue, a permanent
that describe the exact development and context of the experience and present key source of potential conflict. There are artists who reject participation when there
correspondence. is no funding, that is, when they have to pay for things themselves. I do not share
this position, and differentiate between various situations. I sometimes participate
My worst experience so far has been with the Italian curator Claudia Zanfi, who has in a show even when I myself have to pay. But I have learned to insist that funding
been trying to relieve me of one of my artworks by means of very intricate tactics. be discussed in a clear and comprehensive way up front. Years ago, I accepted the
We are still in the midst of the dispute, since my piece has not yet been returned. no-funding conditions of the Contemporary Art Center Moscow, when Viktor Misiano
This case has been documented to the point that it almost amounts to a sociological was curator there. At the time, there was no money in Moscow, and Misiano made
study.5 It might well serve as a cautionary example of an entire network of exploitation this clear to me from the beginning. I organized things myself and had a great time.
and self-exploitation in the midst of a rich city that refuses to give enough money I was able to produce a show I organized around the study of Basic Russian and
to the arts despite its attempt to use them to boost its image. Zanfi made herself a my Reading Seminar projects. This exhibition was important for my own working-
complicit agent in this mechanism of disrespect and abuse. Maike Pollack, from the history, and the lack of international reception and funding did not matter.
Southfirst Gallery in Brooklyn, is another person who tried to extort artworks from me
and even kicked me out of an ongoing group show I was in.6 Alongside some minor Currently, I am working on a one-person exhibition for Artist Commune, a nonprofit
cases of frustration, which I list here in the hope of pressuring a solution through space in Hong Kong; elaborate work is required. Chief curator Shin-Yi Yang invited
the power of free speech, I have to mention the well-known Italian artist Maurizio a guest curator, Mie Iwasuki, who invited me. The show sounds great but, as was
Nannucci, who heads a respected art space in Florence entitled BASE. After three made clear to me, there is no funding. I accepted it because several volunteers,
years of empty promises, he has not yet reimbursed my airfare, nor has he returned including both curators, will tutor me in Chinese on a regular basis as a continuation
my artworks. Another petty case, not even worth describing here, can be found of my four-year-old Basic Chinese art project. Mie Iwasuki is hard-working and
online; it involves some artist-curators in Amsterdam who did me in financially as supportive. In addition to teaching me Chinese, she is painting three large canvases
well as on the level of presentation.7 My last example of remarkably disappointing for my show. I will pay for my own flight ticket and cover the costs of most of the
curating at a large and respected institution concerns Christian Bernard, who invited materials, and I hope to have a nice time in Hong Kong. But, without making it
me to do a one-person show in a part of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary sound like I am complaining, I cannot ignore the fundamental question of why a rich
Art (MAMCO) in Geneva in 1997. Though funding was guaranteed and a time city like Hong Kong cannot afford to cover basic artistic activities. Why do curators
for the show was chosen, it was abruptly canceled for rather ludicrous reasons work there when there is no financial support for the arts? The answers are complex,

50 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 51

A Portable, not so ideal, but they always fall within the logic of the pre-financial thinking that dominates the based cottage industry of social services reinforces this kind of interference. Could Imported - A Reading
imported library or how Seminar...
to reinvent the coffee art world. In this case, my I dont sell anything but I learn something mantra has you do a reading seminar? Will you teach the children of the neighborhood? Will (French Version),
table - 25 books for been slightly modified. I am also in another situation where there is no funding but it you psychoanalyze the members of our museum board? Because artists are today Nice, 1994
instant use (Japanese
is nevertheless an acceptable and pleasant experience - an intelligent show that does often the producers and organizers of their own artworks and do not shy away
version), 1993
not require any money. Alejandro Cesarco and Gabriela Forcadell are curating the from spectacle or event-planning, their modes of working and managing affairs have
show (if it may be called that) for the Centro Cultural Rojas without any significant become similar to, if not the same as, those of curators or dealers. The blurring of the
funding, but with lots of engagement, ideas, and pleasure. I am one of a number of line between curator and artist presents temptations everybody should be wary of.
artists who are being invited, on a monthly basis, to present a list of books for people
to read, along with an introduction explaining the selection of texts and suggesting The importance of (I wanna get mass-) media attention in the art world is another
reading strategies. The texts will go into an archive they are setting up in remote and factor that can push artists and curators onto a collision course. People compete
cash-poor Argentina. There still seem to be a lot of people with curiosity and interest for public attention and narcissistic love. Attention seems to be the lifeblood for our
in art and artists reasoning. For me, participation in this project not only provides a media-driven industry. It is not uncommon for the curators of mega-shows to be more
perfect pretext for reading, but it is also a way to regenerate the connection between important than the art, which is temporarily left on the wayside by the international
my fingers and certain parts of my cortex. I love to express myself with old-fashioned jet set. When Harald Szeemann invited me to participate in the Kwangju Biennial
media that have dominated me and my artistic expression: reading, writing and in 1997, the Korean press could not stop asking questions about my star curator.
discussions have been the centerpieces of many of my exhibitions. These basic What is it like working with him? How did he find you? Have you worked with
cultural practices have become more and more anachronistic in a cultural status him before? What do you think of Szeemann? And so on. There was almost no
quo that works with mice, scrolling bars, clicks, and remote control devices. Seeing substantial question asked about my artistic proposal. Today, many writers succumb
these curators - who are mainly artists who do not like to wait around - working to this obsession with curating and curators. Larger group shows seem to fall or stand
respectfully with simple and eco-friendly strategies makes me almost forget about not with the work of the artists in the show but with the curatorial reasoning behind
the stress that can define the world of art programming. it. Unfortunately, the selection process is often like betting on horses or picking
stocks. People like to see recurring high-profile names mixed with those of unknown
In addition to money issues, many other conflicts can occur, too, just as in everyday young newcomers. Older artists try to rejuvenate themselves by collaborating with
life. I will mention only a few of the tensions between curators and artists that are young talents. Curators reinvent themselves by inviting younger artists who can more
becoming more and more obvious. easily change their modes of working and synchronize their perception with the flux
of things.
Artistic interference by curators. This is the result of the changing roles and the
deskilling of many artistic practices. Curators start to interfere and compete with It is no surprise that thinking about art in terms of scores and rankings has proliferated,
artists in the artistic decision-making process: Make it bigger, make it smaller, use since even investment capital has now become part of the picture. Without knowing
this material, etc. Curators also assume roles that involve the kind of demands once many details, I learned that some high profile U.S. curators were not only acting
made by financial patrons: We want you to do a bar, a dance floor, a skateboard as advisors but were actually the founders of a venture fund for amassing capital
ramp, wallpaper, furniture, a floating structure, and last but not least, a tomb for to invest in the arts. With auction prizes of contemporary art exceeding even the
the CEO. The merging of artistic production with the emergence of a small art- appreciation of Internet stocks during the frantic years of irrational exuberance, it is

52 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 53

hardly astonishing that institutionalized investment thinking has become a reality. choices but decided on me solely on the basis of my artistic work. None of these Imported - A Reading
By the way, lists of best-selling artists have been published in business magazines decisions were influenced by social dynamics or networking power games. There (Japanese Version),
since the 1980s. I sometimes have the feeling that many museum curators make was no dealer or any other kind of matchmaker involved. My status as a relatively Hiroshima, 1995
exhibitions in order to impress other curators and museum directors, especially those unknown artist led me to take each of these shows very seriously. For each of these
advised by blue-chip galleries and art-collecting board members. Artist-shopping museums, I was able to make shows that became crucial for my own art-making.
now defines museum profiles. At the peak of their careers, highly overbooked and Each show in some way altered my artistic direction and became a cornerstone
overexposed players do nothing but move from one major museum to another. It is in the development of my artwork. Interestingly, almost all of these shows were
not an easy game to guarantee the booking of these high-flying artists. This gives a relatively ignored by critics, other institutions, and collectors. I have just received an
false impression that there exists something like the NBA of the art world. invitation from Bill Kaizen to make a one-person show at the Wallach Gallery of the
Columbia University Museum in 2005. This is a well-funded institution that usually
But there is no such NBA. More often than not, when artists reach a certain critical limits itself only to historical presentations. Again, I am amazed that this curator
point of success and exposure, they begin over-producing and under-performing. I and doctoral student in art history has chosen to show me and so diverged from the
am inclined to say that museum shows that fail to challenge artists, curators, the regular practice of his respected institution.
public, and critics are little more than prerecorded visual Muzak. We should all
keep in mind the simple truth that most artists have become known for works they I will conclude this essay by stating the banality that no formula exists for teaching
did when few people showed an interest in them and when virtually nobody was either artists or curators. Every success story is different and cannot be replicated
spending any money on them. In this landscape of illusions, endless diversity, and or even fully understood. To a certain degree, it is nearly impossible to decide what
competitive selecting, decision-making is difficult and soon contextualizes a curator. success means for the people involved - busy schedules? sales? visitors? prestigious
Whom do you show? Whom do you collect? Curators stay and fall with their artists, institutions? media coverage? artistic consistency? In my view, success stories those
their galleries, their openings, their dinner invitations, and their press coverage. that require us to redefine the very notion of success. My heart is with those curators
Working with famous artists brings fame to curators (and vice versa). who, sometimes against all odds, dedicate themselves to a certain artist or a certain
aesthetic without winning social or critical success. I do not even have to like them
I would now like to mention people who offered me opportunities for one-person very much. In New York, Kenny Schachter has for a long time been the kind of case
shows at times when there was a huge discrepancy between my recognition as an difficult to define. Along with being a curator, he is also a lawyer, a collector, an
artist and the importance of the inviting institutions they represented. When they artist, a writer, a dealer, a gallery owner and, recently, a real estate developer. Many
invited me to do a show, these curators held positions of power and could easily artists who became meaningful and recognized in the 1990s were first presented
have shown artists who enjoyed far higher social-approval ratings than I did. At at one of Schachters rather chaotic events in unconventional spaces. His frequent
the risk of disappointing other important curators who supported me and whom, programming took place at empty non-art spaces throughout downtown Manhattan
for merely technical reasons, I cannot mention, I would like to thank the following with shows that were as much visited as they were criticized. Most of his artists
four people, who all gave me solo museum shows: Annegreth Nill, Dallas Museum really had not shown before. But quite a number of them moved on to desirable and
of Art, 1992; Timothy Blum, Persons Weekend Museum, Tokyo, 1993; Sabine profitable careers, some neglecting to mention Schachter in their biographies. I liked
Breitwieser, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 1997; and Edelbert Kb, Kunsthaus only a handful of artists he worked with over the years. While I could not appreciate
Bregenz, 1998. Each of these curators and directors had endless programming most of his aesthetic choices, I very much acknowledge (and, in fact, adore) the

54 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 55

fact that he has been home for many of the artists he showed and collected early Left:
Leggere Antonio Gramsci
on, anticipating and shaping major visual trends in New York. In my personal Reading Antonio Gramsci.
understanding, Schachter redefined and extended the social role of the artist-curator- Base, Florence, 2002
writer-collector-dealer-entrepreneur in a memorable, if often shocking, way. Right:
Imported - A Reading
I end abruptly with the unsatisfying feeling that much has been left out. Being seminar...
(California Version),
exposed to art and artists is an ongoing school that has no need for teachers or Los Angeles, 1995
students. Listening to artists should be the most important job of anybody who works,
or pretends to work, for the arts. Good artists and good curators find their own way
to defy the dull institutionalization and non-stop commercialization of art and its vital
channels of communication. They are not satisfied with art schools and curatorial
training courses, with dealers and museum directors, with the market and the state-
sponsored event culture that exists for chauvinistic or mutually narcissistic ends. The
same is true of intelligent audiences and outstanding collectors, who appreciate and
dedicate themselves to the things they themselves really like. All these participants
know they need art in their struggle to live a decent and meaningful life. In todays
world of total marketing, spam also occurs in the form of cultural products we do not
want, need, or (wish to) understand. Today, the responsibility of everybody involved
in the endless process of cultural and artistic production and mediation is greater
then ever before. It is a sublime endgame to be endlessly continued.

New York, July 2004

PS: It goes without saying that I am deeply indebted to and appreciative of everybody
who has worked with me in whatever role. I feel very sorry that space does not allow
me to name every single person; my text would have been twenty or more pages
long if I had. But I do want to mention two people in New York who have been and
still are tremendously generous and supportive: Devon Dikeou, artist, writer, curator,
collector and editor of zingmagazine; and Manfred Baumgartner, who is offering
me a third one-person exhibition in New York, where the killing cost structure is so
outrageous that the exhibition of an artist with my commercial track record hardly
seems justifiable - another example of a curatorial choice against the grain.

56 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 57


Paul Brewer

On the Quasi-Dilemma
of Enrolling in a Curatorial
Studies Program
Paul Brewer M.A. required, Ph.D. preferred. This particular string of syllables now tends to always believed to be an uncategorically hybrid practice that could not be learned
is a curator and writer
based in New York.
anchor almost every curatorial job description circulated by institutions presenting outside of direct communication and collaboration with artists. The structure of
He worked as Director contemporary visual arts. The incredible expansion of the field over the last fifty curatorial studies programs was quite similar to what I knew of most MFA programs.
of Exhibitions at the
years has produced a global marketplace and systems of support for living artists Concentrated studio time, critical discussion, seminars on focused issues and
Corcoran College of
Art and Design in (though still mainly based in Western cultural capitals) that feed an increasing practices, interaction with visiting artists, and the production of a body of work for
Washington, DC from plurality of practices and dialogues defining the present and foreseeable future. The a final presentation - all had direct parallels in most of the programs I researched.
1999 - 2003. He is
currently completing a organizational structure of this network has necessarily undergone a hierarchical With deadlines looming, curatorial studies appeared to be my best option, but my
masters degree program stratification with a new emphasis on departmentalizing the various administrative decision was not made without significant reservations.
at Bard Colleges Center
for Curatorial Studies in
activities performed in institutional arenas. While there are, certainly, particularities
Annandale-on-Hudson, in relation to geography, a type of industrial standardization inevitably guides the Besides my horror of any scenario involving a large group of curators discussing
roles of individuals whose ambitions and livelihood become inextricably linked to contemporary art - a situation I consciously avoided at nearly any cost - I had a
participating in the evolution of cultural production. Competition always breeds list of fears and preconceived notions that made wrestling with application forms
entrepreneurship, but it also spawns professionalization - a term often greeted with something of a personal grudge match. First and foremost was a general uneasiness
skepticism and occasional contempt in the domain of creativity - with primacy placed with the term curator and the connotations that have developed around it. A
on the compilation of credentials that very often originate in education. stirring of queasiness is easily prompted in me by exalted characterizations of the
contemporary curator as a figure of nobility in the rarefied art world, reinforced
Academic programs with titles such as Museum Studies, Arts Administration, by mythic stories of monumental exercises in ego and new depths of micro-
or Cultural Management, which have proliferated over the past twenty years at management that are usually delivered in inflated, often unverifiable forms of gossip.
colleges and universities, are a sure sign that career models based on tasks that This notion of authoritarianism is only exacerbated when I listen to what artists say
can be specifically outlined and taught are now firmly in place. But these programs to curators as opposed to what they sometimes say about them, or when I witness
focus mainly on the practical logistics of navigating operational procedures; they what curators have to say about each other in private when a meeting or project
offer students formats of communication and methods of production in tandem with comes to an end. While such dialogue appears to be the exception rather than
surveys of art history and some critical theory. When I was researching options for the rule, the polemics of professional relations can be quite daunting when the
an advanced degree that might support my own experience and aspirations as a degree of personal investment in ones work is as astronomical as it is in the arts.
curator, I found that many of the graduates from such programs had realized their Some of the controversy that inevitably surrounds contemporary curatorial practice
career goals in other territories, such as development, public relations, education, is perhaps an indication of expectations that increasingly require the merging of
or registration and conservation. I looked into art history programs, but the rigors of various roles that have traditionally been separate. Todays museum curator is not
scholarly work demanded a tightly focused approach to artists and movements that simply a caretaker of artworks and organizer of exhibitions. She or he must often
are to a certain degree already canonized; consequently, such programs would have also act as an art historian and theoretician for catalogue essays, a critic writing
removed me from a strong relation with artists of my own generation. New academic in journals and magazines, a diplomat for a given institution, an informed buyer
programs, which originated in the late 1980s under the label curatorial studies, cultivating relationships with dealers and collectors, and simultaneously both an
seemed to offer a match, but I was still made cautious by the conventionality of their active participant in global discourse and an agent for a geographically specific
description, which seemed to signify a kind of methodical approach to something I community of artists. Aside from some of the more transparent conflicts of interest

58 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 59

Nearly every artist I knew could articulate an
extended criticism of the insularity of curatorial
discussions. Many decried what they felt to be the
growing artistic egos of curators who construct
exhibitions as meta-artworks to express their own
visionary ideas.

that arise from such a nexus of relations, I was wary of what seemed to me the
kind of dilettantish or even political personality that many curators adopt in order to
juggle all these demands. In general, I just was not sure I would be able dispel the
stereotype I had formulated for my chosen career.

Speaking with artists and others in the arts gave me some necessary advice. Nearly
every artist I knew could articulate an extended criticism of the insularity of curatorial
discussions. Many decried what they felt to be the growing artistic egos of curators
who construct exhibitions as meta-artworks to express their own visionary ideas.
Scholars warned that by focusing on exhibition history rather than art history,
curatorial studies programs revolve around the privileged role of the curator as a
cultural producer in his or her own right. Some curators expressed similar concerns,
but many others felt that no other type of program offered the experience necessary
to approach the actual working environment. What was made clear by everyone I
spoke with was that the field (in the United States at least) is practically closed to
those who do not pursue an advanced degree. In the end, this was perhaps the
deciding factor. Whether justified or not, I began to see my own paranoia and much
of the criticism voiced by others as not necessarily relating to curatorial education
or even to individual curators, but rather to the concept of the curator, which is
something that will always be subject to intense scrutiny and constant reevaluation.
Now, with the first year of a two-year curatorial studies program behind me, while I
cannot say that any of my initial reservations have been completely assuaged, I will
say that I have no regrets about enrolling.

60 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 61


Dominic Willsdon

as a Profession?
Dominic Willsdon
is course tutor teaching
What is a profession? The term is used to mean many things. We speak of of expertise. Some kinds of expertise may be scarce by their very nature, Perkin 3
Perkin, 378.

the philosophy of art

professional rather than amateur sports or theater to distinguish between paid writes, like that of a Kiri Te Kanawa or a Barbara Hepworth, for which the famous
for the masters degree and unpaid occupations, and maybe also to say something about training and opera singer or sculptor may charge a rent. But most professional expertise does
program in curating
organization. We speak of the professional classes as meaning knowledge-workers not enjoy a natural scarcity, and its value has to be protected and raised, first by
contemporary art at
the Royal College of who work within relatively settled institutional structures, either public or corporate, persuading the public of the vital importance of the service and then by controlling
Art in London. He is as distinct from entrepreneurs. In an archaic British usage, the professions refers the market for it. That is why the organized professional bodies are, as much as trade
also curator of public
events at Tate Modern specifically to medicine, law, and academia (the original late-medieval professions) unions, institutions for educating the public and for closing the market, and operate
(programming talks, and perhaps also to the clergy and the military. But more systematically, the sociology strategies of closure including control of entry, training and qualification, and seek
discussions and
conferences) and a
of professions, especially in its classic period (1930s-1970s), tends to identify its a monopoly of the name and the practice. Even the unqualified professions like
member of the steering object of study in terms of social structure.1 Professions are expert occupations in the Civil Service, journalism and the theater try to make early entry and practical
group of the London
which individual practice takes place within some form of relatively autonomous, experience stand in for qualification.3
Consortium postgraduate
program (including Tate, more or less organized, collective association. A profession organizes itself so as
Birkbeck College, The to control its field of activity, including access to the field and advancement within To what extent, if any, do todays courses in curating contemporary art provide
Architecural Association
and the ICA). it. This control is exercised typically through a system of regulations including, professional qualifications? This is one way of approaching the harder question of
possibly a code of ethics and, most importantly, specific education requirements whether curating is a profession (and its implications for how value is managed in the
Literature in the
sociology of professions
and qualifications. Not all professions are the same. Classic sociology tried to map visual arts). If we stick with a strong sociological definition of professional training,
includes, notably, the the many variations on the basic model - for example, between the state-appointed, the answer has to be: not much. Unlike training in law or medicine (or engineering
work of Talcott Parsons.
civil service professions predominant in France and the independent or free or pharmacy), curating courses do not provide necessary qualifications for working
See for example, Parsons
The Professions professions typical of Britain and the United States - with the aim of establishing in the field. Qualified candidates for jobs compete legitimately with unqualified
and Social Structure a comprehensive typology. More recent sociology has been concerned less with ones. No professional association of curators exists to validate the different courses,
(1954) in his Essays in
Sociological Theory (New typology than with professional power (the mechanisms of control), while recent and nobody is anticipating the creation of one. In medicine, in Britain, the number
York: Simon & Schuster, historical (rather than sociological) studies tend to focus less on structure and more of places on qualifying courses is tied to the number of anticipated professional
on the process of professionalization. It is often argued, as in Harold Perkins major vacancies, and both are regulated by the state. Even when state-funded and state-
Harold Perkin, The Rise work The Rise of Professional Society, that this process pervades post-industrial assessed, as in Britain, curating courses, like most other higher education courses,
of Professional Society:
society and that society is now better understood in terms of professions than in operate under market conditions (since funding is tied to student recruitment).
England since 1880
(New York: Routledge, terms of social classes.2 Qualifications in curating might be better described as vocational arts degrees with
2002). a practical element.
Professionalization involves the creation of specific training programs. Formal
training in schools gradually takes the place of informal training on the job. Courses Yet without being professional, in the strict sense, curating courses may be subject to
supersede apprenticeships, or, very often, on-the-job training is built into the new a form of quasi-professionalization. Collectively, as the provision of training expands,
school-based training in the form of mandatory internships. A profession establishes they can become a strategy of closure, in Perkins sense. As the number of courses
specific training as a way of affirming the scope, substance, and value of the increases in order to satisfy demand (and in Britain, at least, there are signs that this
expertise it claims to represent. It is a way for professions to control the production is happening), and if the new courses are broadly similar in orientation to the existing

62 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 63

Resisting professionalization is simply
a matter of trying to keep the field open
to different skills and values.

ones (for example, centered on producing exhibition-concepts), we will tend towards vocational arts training will readily become professional arts training, and specific 4
Natalie Heinich and
Michael Pollak, From
a situation where something like professional training, though still unregulated, will functions will become professions. Museum Curator to
have been established de facto, inasmuch as those seeking entry to the profession Exhibition Auteur:
Inventing a Singular
might be expected to have taken this general route. It does not matter that unqualified Perhaps the most prevalent model for the professional curator today is described by
Position (1989),
candidates can compete legitimately with qualified ones if the latter are always Natalie Heinich and Michael Pollak in an essay published in 1989, before most or in Thinking About
successful. The link between courses and jobs, facilitated by student placements, all curating courses were founded.4 They begin with an account of what they see as Exhibitions, ed. R.
Greenberg et. al. (New
would close the field. This is not a problem (since there is nothing wrong with a crisis in the profession of museum curator. They are concerned specifically with York: Routledge, 1996).
training), and there is no closure, so long as: access to courses is equitable; and the France where, traditionally, curating was highly professionalized on the civil service
Heinich and Pollak,
courses are not all substantially the same (as in the expansion of cultural studies, for model. The crisis is attributable, they say, to a number of related factors: increased 238.
example, where the tendency was towards greater homogeneity). state funding; a consequent increase in the number of posts; and an opening up
of entry routes into the profession (since it became more accessible to graduates
Homogeneity is the negative side of professionalization and more equitable access from schools other than the cole du Louvre and because of the formation of sub-
is the positive side. In the cultural sector, again using Britain as an example, specializations within the museum that claim other kinds of expertise). Expansion and
professionalism (with its emphasis on selection by merit) supersedes a class- diversification of the field means that the profession can no longer control or identify
based amateurism. The worst scenario, politically and culturally, would be one in itself with the production of the expertise for which it stands. Heinich and Pollak call
which a new homogeneous quasi-professionalism (based on a core model of what this a form of de-professionalization, and they welcome it. Maybe curating was
curating is) mixes with an old amateurism, to produce something like class-based never as professionalized elsewhere as it was in France. Nevertheless, Heinich and
professionalism. This is what makes the issue of internships important. If curating Pollaks account of the expansion and liberalization of the field seems to apply to many
courses absorb opportunities for advanced work experience in the form of student countries (at least in the post-industrial world) and even to have accelerated over the
placements, if primary work experience continues to be one of the most valuable last fifteen years. Old French professionalism and old British amateurism are both in
factors in getting accepted on courses, and if work experience of any sort (being crisis, and for the same reasons. The difficult thing is knowing what form curatorial
unpaid) continues to be only an option for relatively few people, then access to expertise ought to take under these conditions. Heinich and Pollack propose an
employment will not be as equitable as it needs to be. This is a problem in Britain. authorial model. Depersonalized professional curating (the subordination of personal
Part of the remedy would be for public art institutions to create funded, targeted, judgment to professional rules and consensus) gives way to more individual and
multidisciplinary internships, as a way of offering alternative routes into the field. creative work: the curator as author of exhibitions. De-professionalization, they write,
Programs in the United States, such as the one at the Metropolitan Museum in is marked by deregulation in access to the job, a deinstitutionalization of the criteria
New York or the Getty Multicultural Summer Internships Program, provide models. of competence (its not being necessary to hold a specific diploma or position), an
Resisting professionalization is simply a matter of trying to keep the field open to expansion in the social milieus or, to be more precise, in the intellectual fields of
different skills and values. This involves keeping at bay any sense that there is endeavor concerned, an individualization of product where a signature becomes
a substantial, essential training (as opposed to essential commitments) proper to much more apparent and a redefinition of competence in terms of singularization
curating or, therefore, any substantial, essential expertise proper to curating (aside (originality) rather than the implementation of collectively recognized rules.5 For
from knowledge of art). It is hard to do, maybe impossible. According to the economic them, it is a shift from curator-as-professional to curator-as-auteur, on the model of
and social logics Perkin describes, specialization leads directly to professions, so the auteur filmmaker. The old professional is superseded by the director of artistic

64 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 65

Curating might be understood not in terms
of producing exhibition-concepts but,
more broadly, as the set of technical
and intellectual tasks involved in making art
public. This would be to shift from a vocational
arts education with a practical bias to a liberal
arts education with a practical bias.

Heinich and Pollak, collaborations. This is an idea now familiar to us. However, this is only a form of different from the first ones (and the first might need to be different too). For
de-professionalization, according to Heinich and Pollak, since the advent of the example: curating might be taught less exclusively in relation to art history, and more
curator-as-auteur can be seen as the formation of a new kind of professional. They to activities such as editing, archiving, scenography, performance, broadcasting,
end by calling for the inclusion of the auteur in a future sociology of professions: and publishing. This would be effectively to complement art-centered studies with
the professional who performs a function alongside the professional who occupies studies centered on publicizing functions. Curating might be understood not in
a post. terms of producing exhibition-concepts but, more broadly, as the set of technical
and intellectual tasks involved in making art public. This would be to shift from
We may be skeptical about the model of the auteur curator, the curator as Godard. a vocational arts education with a practical bias to a liberal arts education with a
Heinich and Pollak greatly overstate the significance of the author-function in practical bias. It would make it easier for people to apply skills gained in exhibition-
contemporary curating. The effect of the director-producers signature is many making in other areas and to find work across a range of publicizing professions.
times greater in the reception of film (Hollywood as well as cinma dauteur), But that is just one possible direction. There should be lots. The issue in all this is
theater, even television, than that of art exhibitions. There are very few cases, almost the range of expertise available and, by implication, the diversity and vitality of what
none, in which the identity of the curator counts in the experience of the public is done.
(except for other curators). Re-forming (or forming) a profession of curating centered
on the model of the auteur exhibition-maker is appealing, and common, especially
where curating is threatened by bureaucracy. But as a model for curating, it presents
several problems: it fails to express the general culture of curatorial activity; it
needlessly creates an opposition between institutional, post-holding curators and
freelance independents (with the former undervalued and the latter overvalued); it
fetishizes conceptualizing and creative skills that have an ordinary place in curating,
just as they do in professional activities (for instance, medicine and law) and quite
a few non-professional activities; and it puts a premium on the exhibition concept
as the proper and highest value product of curating. If the field of curating becomes
de facto quasi-professionalized, the closure, paradoxically, is likely to organize itself
around this mode: the reified auteur ideal.

It would be paradoxical because, despite Heinich and Pollaks claim, the auteur is
not a model of professionalism but of anti-professionalism (individual creator of
status6 is as succinct a definition of anti-professionalism as you can have). What
is important about what they say about the auteur (though the term is not helpful)
is the emphasis on anti-professional status: not having a specific diploma, coming
from anywhere in a diverse range of social milieus and intellectual fields. Training
can be like this; but the new, second generation courses will need to be substantially

66 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 67


Cloe Piccoli

with Serendipity
Cloe Piccoli To reflect on this winters experience in the classroom of Alberto Garutti at the Brera After all, what situation could be more public than that of Italys largest and most Alberto Garutti,
is an art critic and Istanbul Biennal,
freelance curator who
Fine Arts Academy in Milan implies approaching the topic of teaching curatorship important state art school? Istanbul 2001
teaches in the masters - the theme of this issue of Manifesta Journal - through a particular point of view,
program in visual arts Alberto Garutti,
one that is, however, central: namely, that of the artist. It means sneaking into an In his class, he seeks to foster with the students - through what is almost more a
at the Brera Fines Arts Istanbul Biennal,
Academy in Milan. interspace to observe one of the ways in which the figure of the curator acquires form of nurturing than instruction - an attentive and open attitude of observation, a Istanbul 2001
She also writes for the structure, an aspect that is difficult to define and, probably, impossible to teach - a way of getting to know the world in all its various aspects. This is a precise and lucid
daily newspaper La
Repubblica and its particular sensibility, an aptitude for listening and observing that is able to be shared approach - the orientation of an artist - which moves in many directions, as many as
weekly supplement, with artists. there are students, developing different thoughts and forms.
D/la Repubblica. She
is currently working on
Other Rooms, Other In the second semester of this past academic year, Garutti for the first time invited This kind of intense teaching activity becomes a fundamental part of Garuttis
Voices, a program of six
young curators to meet with the students in his classes at the academy. The aim, work, a practice of shared growth, a moment of exchange in which, despite evident
exhibitions and one book
for the Magazzino dArte of course, was not to engage in any specific curatorial training; this was not meant differences in experience and awareness, teacher and students construct a direction
Moderna in Rome. She to be a context in which to discuss theoretical and methodological issues decisive to follow and identify a path.
lives and works in Milan.
in the education of a curator. Instead, the activity took shape as part of the work of
the artist himself, who was attempting to cultivate a readiness to listen, a shared The idea, the artist says, is to try to create a type of shared sensibility - an
sensibility. indispensable condition to develop a fertile relationship, though of course without
confusion of roles. The artist gives form to the work; the curator gives form to the
Garutti sees art as a process that establishes a system of relations with others - with show.
people, students, the public, the inhabitants of the cities, places, and contexts in
which he operates. Since the early 1990s, he has created important works of public During Garuttis work with the young curators, who produced an exhibition with the
art in Italy and abroad, generating interesting and vital connections between the artists in the class, there emerged different ways of seeing and thinking - a particular
world of art and society. attention to multiplicity and variety that was capable of perceiving, at least in part,
the complexity of reality. But above all, what appeared was a sharing of the artists
The making of a work for a public space, he says, imposes an attitude of listening sensibilities, an ability that is as fundamental for a curator as are systems of thought
to places, the existing urban fabric, and the sensibilities of the citizens who live and languages. Sensibility, to be sure, cannot be taught; neither can serendipity
there. And he adds, I like to think about intervention in the city knowing how to - the recognition of accidental wonders discovered along the way. Artists are born,
give up any kind of showiness, taking ethical responsibility for a methodological not made, and perhaps, this is true of curators, as well. But sensibilities can be
approach that pays attention to the needs of the client, or namely, the inhabitants recognized, refined, and given orientation.
who will live with the work.

This attitude of listening, of responding to precise needs, forms the foundation for
Garuttis teaching at Brera. His work with student artists, and this year with curators,
is based on the same premises as his work in artistic, public, and social contexts.

68 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 69


Zoran Eri and Stevan Vukovi

the Curators
Zoran Eri
is an art historian,
Fellow Curators, What is to be Done? The Basic Guidelines European Show he was,
together with Zoran Eri,
curator, and Ph.D. Curators work in a realm marked by aporias in the relation between the conservative Curators must both provide contemporary art practices with new contexts and awarded the prize for the
candidate at the Bauhaus nature of culture and the unique and singularly destined character of the artwork; influence existing cultural contexts by introducing new and non-standard artistic best contemporary art
University in Weimar. exhibition in Serbia in
Together with Stevan
for this reason, they are constantly being mobilized to participate in the struggle practices. In order to do this, they need to develop criteria for selecting artists, as well 2003.
Vukovi he organized by imposing discursive modes, demonstrative procedures, and rhetorical and as formats, for their projects, and this necessarily involves reflection, questioning,
a program of curatorial pedagogical techniques that frame whatever is considered to be artistic practice. and analysis of existing curatorial models. Teaching curatorship does not mean
workshops - Professional
Standards in Curatorial Curators intervene in the processes of conceiving, perceiving, and interpreting art imposing already established and determined models of curating for young curators
Practice in Belgrade practice in order to provide it with new contexts that redescribe, and even rearticulate, to reproduce, but rather stimulating prospective curators to materialize, in projects
in 2001. His curatorial
projects include each work involved as well as the cultural setting in which the works are presented. and events, their own standpoints on certain problems through actual artwork or
Dysfunctional Places / To do this, they form temporary alliances. For instance, a curator might for strategic broader societal processes. They should learn to work with artists themselves, and
Displaced Functionalities,
Belgrade, 2001, Identity,
reasons insist on the sovereignty of the artwork in relation to the traditional crafts and not only with their work, developing, as a starting point, joint projects with an open
(video selection) design techniques of the cultural industries, even though hardly any curator today frame that can be later articulated in a collaborative process that includes a wide
Museum of Modern would accept such a notion as anything more than a regulative idea. On the other range of discursive actions and relations with and towards the contexts in which
and Contemporary
Art, Strasbourg, 2001, hand, a curator might foster the desublimatory potential of subcultural practices or they take place. Artists today similarly use various methods and media in pursuing
Personal - Public the leveling features of mass-produced cultural artifacts in order to make the art the same issues in the analysis, deconstruction, and criticism of societal processes.
Space, aak, 2002,
ID Troubles, Lneburg, field less competence-based and more inclusive and to make artwork less fetishized Therefore, art practice and art theory can work together. Indeed, one of the curators
2004. and more relational. When dealing with artworks and art practices, curators must roles should be to spot and contextualize certain interesting societal phenomena,
Stevan Vukovi
necessarily deal with different traditions and institutional frameworks. Consequently, providing a conceptual framework for artists playing with similar issues as a pretext
studied philosophy they must find ways in which the particular set of values and standpoints implied for work to be developed in a particular setting. It is important to find the right
and art history at the by a specific type of work in the art field interacts productively with the shared balance between theoretical assumptions and artistic practice so as not to impose
University of Belgrade,
art theory at Jan van experiences of the community of specialists (art critics, art historians, gallerists, some hermetic theory on artists as an assigned topic, or to have merely a participatory
Eyck Academie in artists, and art managers) as well as those of general audiences, so as to ensure show with branded works that somehow fit into the given frame without fully
Maastricht, and cultural
studies at ASCA in that the majority of both groups will be able to decipher the codes and messages of developing a relationship to the concept or its context. This process must develop
Amsterdam. He writes these works and practices. Working mainly in the social context, the curators task simultaneously with curator and artist as accomplices in a commitment to the
art and culture related
criticism from 1992, for
is to act upon the habitual and preconceptual paradigms of art, as imbedded in joint transgressive act, which goes beyond the standard, normative, or expected.
which he received the processes of perception and interpretation of actual art. Curators must assume the Therefore, the outcome of any developed curatorial strategy of conceptualizing the
Lazar Trifunovi Award role of enlightener, relying on the promise of a full affirmation of the future, of what is format of an event and contextualizing actual art practice should be more than just a
by the Union of Art
Historians of Serbia in unpredictable, incalculable, and unprogrammable in the artwork, while insisting on participatory show for promotional reasons or the production of cultural stereotypes
1999. Since 1996 he those features that have not yet been appropriated, assimilated or acculturated, as and a contribution to the cultural industry. Curatorial strategies should introduce a
has curated a number
contemporary art events, well as those that cannot be fully translated, transferred, or transported into history point of identification for different types of audiences, who need to be involved in the
the most recent being without a kind of uncanny reminder. process of articulating the relation of the respective art event to the state of affairs in
Belgrade Art Inc.,
Secession, Vienna,
the local art system, the state of the culture, and the surrounding social networks.
2004. For the Last East Consequently, one of the curators major aims should be to create a situation in

70 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 71

Our curatorial program is based
on non-hierarchical work with participants,
who are treated not as students
but as young professionals.

which the critical social questions he or she is posing, together with the artists, Curating in transition,
curatorial workshop,
might receive a more fertile ground for reception in the public sphere. If artists and Belgrade, 2002
curators are dealing with the same issues, though in different media, then the task
of the curator might be to link together all the individual acts so as to generate a
critical mass of voices that will resonate all the more fully by being orchestrated in
a common frame, thus ultimately producing a more powerful effect by exposing
certain problems and raising various issues about the society.

How to Teach Curatorship?

The first thing one must do in any analysis of curatorial instruction is to reflect fully
on the role of the curator of contemporary art. For instance, if we agree that one of
the most important points in curatorial practice is selection, we must immediately
consider the criteria for selection that the curator adopts in developing his or her
strategy. The curriculum for teaching curatorship should take into account all of the
three main aspects of curatorial practice: conceptualization of a project, production
of an art-related event, and development of the interpretative tools used to inscribe
the event in the wider discursive matrix. To be able to conceptualize a project, young
curators must first learn how to articulate their standpoint and the criteria they will
use in selecting artists before they become so involved in the production of the event
that they no longer have sufficient distance to reflect on what they are doing and
why they are doing it.

As for the production of the event, curators must be aware of existing models of
exhibiting and presenting contemporary art and must develop their own skills and
abilities to coordinate the process of realizing an event within a given framework
and to choose an appropriate and inventive way of presenting and mounting the
exhibition. As for the interpretation of the event, the problem one faces in developing
a curriculum for teaching curatorship on an academic level is how to acquaint young
curators both with theoretical methods and with practical skills and how to open
up the possibility for their specialization. The curriculum should focus, in general,
not just on the form and history of art-related subjects; it must be open to an all-
encompassing range of diverse bodies of knowledge that can enable the curator to
cope with the existing varieties of artistic practice. And it should focus, in particular,

72 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 73

not just on local history, but on a whole topography of frameworks in which art and its inevitable institutionalization. The main focus is on the role of the curator- Curating in transition,
curatorial workshop,
practice, including local practice, may be seen in relation to other current forms of as-mediator, processing the permeability of the art system to innovative artistic Belgrade, 2002
art practice and to the contemporary state of culture as a whole. practices and providing these practices with the appropriate contextual framework
and cultural and theoretical interpretation.
Developing a Local Model
The program of curatorial workshops we developed in Belgrade is process-oriented;
it involves long-term work through a number of successive stages, including theory,
research, and realization. The program was created on the basis of an analysis of
various existing models of curatorial training and an awareness of the specificities of a
local art system in which several important aspects and sectors are either missing or
underdeveloped. The aims of the program are to foster abstract theoretical thinking,
to develop abilities in relating artistic practice to what is happening globally, to
research current practice and recognize potential, and, through concrete and locally
specific action, to create the most appropriate format in which to realize a project
conceptualized in the workshops.

Our curatorial program is based on non-hierarchical work with participants, who

are treated not as students but as young professionals. They are given a chance to
work on projects on an equal basis with more experienced colleagues, who act as
lecturers and tutors. Our role is, in a way, that of moderators and mediators of the
process; basically, we are curating the curators of a project for which we provide
an initial framework.

We have never tried to set limits on, or narrowly define, the framework for a curatorial
workshop; rather, it takes shape according to the topic of the project (for example,
Curating in Transition or Trans-global Art-ground) and the dynamics of group
work. The final product, therefore, has always been the result of a mutual decision-
making process developed through debates in the workshops.

In a conceptual sense, the model we are developing discloses the process of

mediation between the various segments of the art world, as well as the constant
practice of redefining the role of art in different institutional frameworks, thereby
making evident the inner antagonism between the critical potential of artistic action

74 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 75


Pip Day

Curatorial Studies
Pip Day
has founded and
Rather than address curatorial studies programs in general, each of which is So just what does the RIM/Curatorial Studies project attempt to do? How do we while curator at Artists
Space, New York (1996
currently directs the
generated for specific reasons and with particular methodologies, I would like to foster the creation of parallel models for cultural and curatorial practice specific - 1998). She has taught
programs Estudios outline here a recent initiative for a curatorial studies program and explain why it to the urban context of Mexico City? The urgency in setting up this program can at Bard Colleges Center
Curatoriales (Curatorial for Curatorial Studies,
came about. be seen in some ways as a direct response to a situation that required immediate and lectured at Parsons
Studies) and RIM
(International confrontation (as I have described). The course is intended primarily as a forum for College, Institute
Residencies in Mexico) Estudios Curatoriales (Curatorial Studies), a program based in Mexico City that runs debate and the exchange of resources and information between participants active for Contemporary
as part of the Mexico Photography and
City based independent in tandem with the program Residencias Internacionales en Mxico (International in the cultural sphere. It is not a degree program and has no formal affiliation with Goldsmiths College.
arts organization Residencies in Mexico, or RIM), was started in 2003 as an initiative of the any cultural or academic institution, although the many informal institutional links
Teratoma. She obtained 1
Teratoma is a
her MA in Curatorial
independent cultural organization Teratoma.1 A part-time, eight-month course are integral to the functioning of the program. multidisciplinary
Studies at the Center designed for practicing curators, critics, and other cultural workers, the program collective composed
for Curatorial Studies, of art historians, art
might be referred to as site-specific curatorial studies. By this I simply mean that The programs operations differ from that of other programs in several ways. First, critics, curators, artists,
Bard College in 1996,
after which she worked the program takes account of its particular urban context within a specific geopolitical the program is geared towards young professionals who are already working and anthropologists,
as curator at Artists region at a given moment in history. Rather than attempt to replicate other academic actively in the cultural sphere either in institutions or independently. (Classes are who explore, from the
Space in New York. She position of their various
has been curating and programs, Curatorial Studies aims to respond to the specific needs of the cultural held outside of work hours, and the course lasts only eight months, a reasonable practices, contemporary
writing independently community in Mexico City as it positions itself within the larger and rapidly changing period for intensive study parallel with ones professional obligations.) Discussion cultures in radical
since 1998. She has transformation due to
published articles
geopolitical and cultural circumstances of Latin America within the global cultural of the students professional projects are built into the program and balanced with changes in production
and essays in various context. courses that deal with specific theoretical, historical, and critical concerns relating structures, the shift in
catalogues and journals intellectual and aesthetic
to these projects. Thus, the theoretical and practical sides of curatorship are directly
including Art Review attitudes, the effects of
(London), Untitled The local cultural context looks a bit like this: On the one hand, the dysfunctional linked, just as they are linked, too, in the yearly exhibition curated collectively by the economic globalization,
(London), Curare, nature of the official, or governmental, arts system in Mexico allows for a certain students. Through both the students individual professional projects and the groups and changes in cultural
(Mxico), Photography geopolitics. Teratoma
Quarterly (New York) amount of strategic freedom (although with grave economic constraints). In other collective exhibition project, the work generated in the course reaches the public attempts to activate
and is contributing editor words, the dominant model is so obviously and deeply flawed that it essentially needs and directly enters the institutional discourse. While student projects are central, debate between virtual
to the arts and culture and real producers
magazine Cabinet (New
to be scrapped, while the playing field for conceptualizing and constructing new course work also includes the intensive study of issues of national representation, and audiences,
York). Her curatorial models remains completely open. On the other hand, there is a certain urgency with both historical and current; a general history of theory, critical writing, and exhibition reviewing notions of
projects include Zero at interpretation and
regard to the local and international frameworks that are being established around practice; and a series of modular thematic sections taught by RIM associates. The
OPA, Guadalajara (2004) historical representation,
and Art & Idea, Mxico Mexican cultural production by global market forces. While Mexican artists today students are challenged to become aware of, and to articulate, the critical context recording and provoking
City (2002), Nostalgia enjoy unprecedented international attention, the major works of the most prominent of their own practice, their place in the history of cultural practice, and the political critical discourse, and
at Art in General, New testing new forms of
York (2002), Residue, at artists are rarely seen within Mexico, with the rules of national representation being choices inherent in mounting any exhibition as well as the impact of these choices cultural politicization.
Kunsthalle Exnergasse, increasingly set by foreign curators in foreign venues and then transported back on social, political, and artistic production. A civil organization
Vienna (2000); Faucet independent from
at Exit Art, New York
home. official academic and
(1999); Performing Second, the diversity of the teaching body is reflected in the makeup of the student cultural apparatuses, the
Video at Ex-Teresa, group aims to radically
body. The core of the faculty is drawn from the Teratoma group of Mexico City-
Mxico City (1999) influence the debates of
and several exhibitions based critics, curators, artists, anthropologists, academics, filmmakers, and other cultural policy in Mexico

76 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 77

The program, then, serves not so much While stressing the importance
as a tool for understanding how the art system of a clear curatorial voice in the development
operates, but as a possible forum for developing of the students discourse, we always try
new strategies and models by which one can to bring the discussions back to the artwork
operate individually and collectively. and artistic production, in both general
and particular terms.

in order to develop more cultural practitioners. They focus on both historical and current social, cultural, and to bypass the curatorial star system, first, by politicizing the role of the curator at the
sophisticated institutions
and means of production political issues relevant to the Latin American cultural context and its relationship present moment and in the present context, and, second, by underscoring the need
and the circulation to international practice as well as to the increasingly globalized local practice of to articulate ones position clearly in relation to historical models, to the institution,
of aesthetic issues.
peripheral countries. Another important focus is on the cultural practices of other to ones public, and last but not least, to the voice of the artist.
Teratoma is a forum for
encounters, debates, developing countries and, in particular, non-Western models that address similar
exhibitions, residencies, issues. RIMs invited instructors, then, include a number of practitioners from non-
education, training, and
dialogue - a space for Western countries - this year they have come from Brazil, Cuba, and Taiwan - as
bringing together textual, well as Westerners (for example, from England, Germany, Canada, and the United
visual, virtual, and
physical information with States) who are either interested in the Latin American context or are developing
the goal of furthering the experimental models for their own Western-based practice. The interdisciplinary
discourse of production
nature of the group allows for extremely diverse viewpoints, political positions, and
and hosting the culture
of the near future on our curatorial models, with gaps and overlaps providing innovative ways of thinking
continent. about the various disciplines and their relation to the public sphere through
exhibition practice. Imaginative strategies for dealing with political, economic, and
intellectual difficulties are shared not only between the foreign instructors of RIM and
the students, but also between RIM residents and the Teratoma group or other local
cultural practitioners.

The program, then, serves not so much as a tool for understanding how the art
system operates, but as a possible forum for developing new strategies and models
by which one can operate individually and collectively. (Not incidentally, the students
who completed the first year of the program went on to form the curatorial collective
Laboratorio 060; while curating exhibitions and conferences, they also continue to
participate in lectures and debates generated around the course and RIM.)

While experimental and innovative approaches to curatorial practice are strongly

encouraged, the program attempts to ground experimentation in solid theoretical and
art-historical research and, most importantly, writing. Students are required to write
essays, primarily about particular objects, works, or bodies of works of art, and must
complete a research paper on a theoretical or artistic concern. While stressing the
importance of a clear curatorial voice in the development of the students discourse,
we always try to bring the discussions back to the artwork and artistic production,
in both general and particular terms. Although it may be overly ambitious, we seek

78 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 79


Saa Nabergoj

World of Art
in the World of Art
Saa Nabergoj
is assistant director of the
Introduction of contemporary visual practice. The first series of workshops was conceived to
SCCA Ljubljana, Center The World of Art, School for Contemporary Art, was founded in 1997 as a reaction contribute to theoretical reflection and stimulate writing on contemporary art, while
for Contemporary Art to the dominant state of affairs of contemporary art and art interpretation in Slovenia. the objective of the second series is to encourage artists to analyze and reflect on
in Ljubljana, Slovenia,
In the 1990s, art production in Slovenia underwent a renaissance, while theoretical artistic concepts, as well as their own practices and positions in the world of art.
and director of the
World of Art, School for and curatorial structures lagged behind. Formal education in art history included In 2003-2004, the two workshop series were merged into a writing seminar that
Contemporary Art in neither contemporary production nor art theory, so young art professionals, lacking seeks to fill the gap in theoretical and critical reflection and encourage writing on
More information: the appropriate knowledge and tools for decoding contemporary trends in art, have contemporary art practice. largely devoted their energies to earlier periods. To fill the gap, the World of Art
program instituted a series of public lectures intended to shed light on contemporary With its multifaceted structure, the World of Art is a unique program in Slovenia; it
art practice and theory. Also offered was a course for curators of contemporary art has established the mechanisms necessary for operating reflectively in the world of
- the only program of its kind in Slovenia - that would enable participants to gain the art and has been continuously developing and adapting to the rapid changes of the
knowledge necessary for this kind of work. art world and the surrounding social conditions.

In its first year, the World of Art program was organized by the kuc Gallery. In
1998, it became a program of the Soros Center for Contemporary Arts - Ljubljana The Course for Curators of Contemporary Art
and acquired a specific international character thanks to the Centers extensive This course offers basic knowledge related to the curators work of conceptualizing
international links, especially within the former Eastern Bloc (Central and Eastern and mounting exhibitions. The course is limited to a maximum of six or seven
Europe, the Balkans, and the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union). participants each year. It lasts ten months (from October to July) and is the only
This was also the year in which the length of the course - which involved the process course of its kind offered in Slovenia.
of conceptualizing and mounting a contemporary art exhibition - was extended from
eight to ten months and the program began to include study trips abroad. These trips The pedagogical process is organized to fit contemporary artistic practices. The
have given participants an opportunity to look beyond the borders of the local scene course begins with modules at which art professionals are invited to present the
and familiarize themselves with a variety of methods, approaches, and operational practical work of the curator through workshops and lectures (topics include the
techniques in the art systems and art milieus of neighboring countries. organization of exhibitions, public relations, financial planning, documentation,
and catalogue editing and design). The introductory section is followed by weekly
With the academic year 2004-2005, the World of Art enters its eighth year sessions with instructors and with the director of the program. The course also
of operation. For the past five years, it has been organized as part of the newly includes meetings and discussions with artists and curators, as well as special
established SCCA, Center for Contemporary Arts - Ljubljana (SCCA-Ljubljana), a guided tours of exhibitions. Course participants also engage in practical assignments
successor to the Soros Center. While still bearing the label of an informal program, and research, for example, analyzing contemporary art galleries, examining attitudes
the World of Art has continued to develop, change, and evolve. After a number of of institution directors and curators, and studying exhibition concepts, as well as
experimental endeavors in previous years, two new program segments were launched in guided reading of specialist literature and the conception and presentation of a
in 2002 to supplement the curating course and lecture series, namely, workshops virtual exhibition project, among other activities.
on the theory and criticism of contemporary art and workshops on the concepts

80 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 81

Marko A. Kovai The heart of the course is the preparation, in collaboration with the instructors, of a The study trips abroad and direct contacts with foreign art specialists familiarize Duan Trar
Europe, 1997 Light objects,
Installation final exhibition - developing the concept (presenting arguments, adjusting to team participants with the art scenes and art production beyond local borders, as well 1973-1977
From the exhibition work, reaching consensus) and realizing the exhibition and accompanying program as with the general workings of a foreign art system, and offer opportunities for From the exhibition
This Art is Recycled, Camera Lucida, 2002
(working with artists, preparing texts, planning the budget, handling public relations, future cooperation and research. At the same time, the trips help participants
marketing, and managing the technical execution of the show). place themselves in the broader context and develop a perspective on their own
The course includes also two study trips abroad - as a rule, one to Eastern Europe,
the other to Western Europe - on which the participants become acquainted with A third challenge is to stimulate well-reasoned discussions on contemporary artistic
the specifics of the art system and art scene, including the art production, of the practices and concepts, which begin with defining the exhibition concept and
chosen city or country. In the past two years, the focus has shifted to research continue through all subsequent phases. We seek to go beyond the typical university
trips within Slovenia, since it turned out that participants generally have a very setting that trains students in the memorization of information instead of creating the
poor knowledge of the local art scenes in the country. Because study trips are also kind of discussion environment that is so important in developing teamwork.
meant to help establish connections for future collaboration, discovering Slovenia
(and thus creating a foundation for content-based collaboration) seemed the most The instructors and visiting lecturers (artists and curators) share with participants
sensible way to handle this situation. their knowledge of curatorial work, including such aspects as conducting research,
keeping abreast of art production, and communicating with artists. What is most
The course presents the organizers with challenges on several levels. First, participants important, however, is that the knowledge participants acquire in the classroom is
must obtain the knowledge and tools needed for working independently in the art then tested in practice when they set up their own exhibition.
world. The concrete knowledge and skills acquired by participants from tutorial
work, theoretical lectures, and workshops are applied in practice when setting up Over the seven years of its existence, the course has been completed by forty-eight
the exhibition. Their knowledge and skills usually exceed what is expected from the people from Slovenia and Croatia.
average curator working in a gallery, but they are absolutely necessary if one is to
operate efficiently outside the framework of an institution.
The Lecture Series
A second challenge involves getting participants involved at the very heart of the Every year we organize a series of public lectures on a specific theme. In 1997,
Slovene art scene, which much too often seems to be closed to newcomers, at six speakers, from both Slovenia and abroad, gave talks on The Conceptual Art of
least at first glance, and thus discourages self-initiative on the part of prospective 1960s and 1970s; in 1998, seven lecturers shared their thoughts on Theories
curators. The work positions occupied by our graduates serve to confirm that we of Display; in 1999, seven lecturers looked at Geopolitics and Art; and in 2000-
have been successful at this challenge. During the ten months of the program, 2001, eleven lecturers discussed Strategies of Presentation. This last theme was
participants become acquainted with the national art scene, meet many of its extended over the next two years, with nine lecturers featured in Strategies of
leading figures, and develop a sense of where they themselves might best fit Presentation, Part 2 (2001-2002), and seven in Strategies of Presentation, Part
in. They get to know the art system and the mechanisms behind it. They also 3 (2002-2003).
acquire a good picture of contemporary visual production and its infrastructure.

82 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 83

Borut Hlupi - Holland For the first three years of the series, the themes focused on art practices with the first year devoted to acquainting participants with contemporary and modern Video works of Sarajevo
The Quantum Angelic artists Zoja Bajbutovi,
Art, 2004 and movements important for understanding the development of modern and art as well as introducing them to an understanding of contexts. A second option is Nedad Begovi,
A series of paintings contemporary art. With the Strategies of Presentation series, we have presented art to transform the course into a more ambitious program with international validation, Miroslav Benkovi, Dejan
of angels and the Cori, Zlatan Filipovi,
professionals who, through various approaches and methods, critically question the and so on. Whatever we decide, one thing is certain: we need to develop better
manuscript of the Vuk Janji, Smail
Theology of Architecture mechanisms of the art world, their own position within art, and the role and power coordination between the separate school segments (the course, the seminar, and Kapetanovi, Zlatko
and Astronomy of art itself. Artists, critics, theoreticians, curators, and activists have discussed the lecture series) and, at the same time, create a platform for deeper collaborations Lavani, Lejla Porobi,
From the exhibition Alma Suljevi, Neboja
Between Fire and Art, their dilemmas and doubts regarding the art system in which we operate and have between the increasing number of people who have assumed responsible positions eri oba, Muhidin
2004 presented ways it can become a socially engaged form of activism capable of self- in the art world thanks in some measure to the World of Art program. Nor should we Tvico, Dejan Veki,
Sran Vuleti, Pjer and
criticism and self-reflection. forget the established network of our international colleagues, who are linked ever Nino Zalica, Enes Zlatar,
more closely as the years go by. Jasmila bani.
From the exhibition
Visitors, 1999
Seminar in Writing on Contemporary Art
The seminar is composed of a nine-month series of workshops and lectures under
the mentorship of Miko uvakovi and Igor Zabel. Mentorship takes place through
regular biweekly meetings (reading and analyzing texts and writing individual essays)
as well as through electronic correspondence. There are seven monthly workshops
that cover a variety of writing genres (catalogue text, exhibition review, etc.) and
forms of media presentation, as well as their practical application.

The Anthology
Each year the program concludes with an anthology of texts in which we publish the
lectures, document the achievements of the course and final exhibition, and present
conversations with our invited speakers.

The Future
Since its beginnings in 1997, the World of Art program has come a long way. Thanks
to the work we have done over the years, our fervent discussions and enriching
collaborations, the program has grown into what is now a school for contemporary art.

Our eighth year, which is just about to start, will, in addition to the normal operations
of the school, be focused on in-depth thinking about our future development. We have
a number of options. We could expand the curating course into a two-year program,

84 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 85


Mercedes Vicente

The Central Place

of Discourse
in Curatorial Studies
Mercedes Vicente On my first day in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum I had the desire to take some time off from the demands of professional writing to
is an independent art
critic and curator living in
of American Art, each of us was asked to provide a list of critics, art historians, achieve further specialization and explore more comprehensively my core interests.
New York City. A regular and theoreticians whose writings we would like to read or whom we would like In my letter of application to Bard, and in even clearer terms to the Whitney, I stated
contributor to Exit, Lpiz
to have as visiting lecturers. This was a sign not only of the Whitney programs that my aim was to find in these programs venues in which to examine and test
and La Vanguardia,
she has reported art non-hierarchical pedagogical approach, but also of its respect for the participants new ideas, to engage in dialogue with my peers in a structured environment, and
news, written extensive intellectual proficiencies. Both when I was doing a masters degree at the Center for to find guidance for the development of new projects, both in writing and curating.
essays on such artists
such as Andrea Fraser Curatorial Studies (CCS) at Bard College (1998-2000) and even more, later, when What I sought, as a participant who was actively trying to chart her own intellectual
and Martha Rosler, I was in the Whitney program (2001-2002), I liked to think of myself not so much path, was a program that would offer me an open and flexible structure able to
as well as interviewed
such figures as Harold
as a student but as a participant. As Rene Green remarked in a recent Artforum accommodate my needs.
Bloom, Robert Storr and article on the Whitney program, The people that come to the Whitney program are
Rosalind Krauss. She
considered to be participants, implying an active role of contributors rather than The Bard and Whitney programs presented very different experiences. While Bard
was 2001-2002 Helena
Rubinstein Whitney passive absorption of transferred knowledge.1 offers a standard two-year masters degree program with a structured curriculum
Curatorial Fellow and based on a combined model of art history and theory and hands-on curatorial
has organized exhibitions
on American conceptual It is not only that some of us were not so young and had already come a long way practice, the Whitney program, being devoted to independent study, maintains the
drawing and around before joining these programs, but, more importantly, I had never perceived my seminar model of reading discussions led by its director, Ron Clark, and specially
issues of temporality.
Her exhibition Slowness
postgraduate education along traditional lines; rather, I saw myself as a participant invited artists, critics and curators (mostly former fellows of the program).
has traveled to the in a discursive environment, one that would shape the course of my intellectual
Gowett Brewster Art
development. I have always strongly believed in this model, regardless of ones These radically different pedagogical models were not the only distinction between
Gallery in New Zealand
in October. She is co- professional and intellectual expertise: each individual should actively pursue his the two programs; they also had different missions and philosophies. The Whitney
editor, together with or her own education, guided by some sort of mentorship and always humbly Program, founded in 1968, is, as Thomas Crow has stated, a crossover between
Anna Mara Guash, of the
upcoming anthology of recognizing that there is a long way to go on the road of learning. A curatorial the new social art history and the theoretical approach associated with the journal
writings by art historian program should provide resources and the transfer of information, to be sure, but October. Indeed, many of the journals editors and contributors have been both
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
entitled Formalismo e
most importantly, it should be open to dialogue. alumni and faculty of the program (Hal Foster once headed the Whitney programs
historicidad, modelos y art history division, and Benjamin H. D. Buchloh was one of its most prominent
mtodos en el arte del
When I was asked, during my application interview for Bard, why was I interested in faculty members). The educational reforms that characterized the period in which
XX to be published by
Akal Publicaciones. becoming a curator, my response may have puzzled the committee (made up of the the program was founded may have been a factor in shaping its ideologically
curatorial centers director, Norton Batkin, and Lynne Cooke and Thelma Golden). leftist approach, including the focus on discourse and the insistent questioning of
Rene Green, quoted
in Howard Singerman, My ultimate aim was not so much to be a curator, I replied, as to find a structured a consciously theorized practice, for which the program is known. The programs
A History of the environment in which to continue my study of contemporary art and culture so I continuing alliance with the Whitney Museum of American Art provides the curatorial
Whitney Independent
Study Program,
could apply this knowledge to my writing - though I did not discount the possibility fellows with the chance to meet some of the museums curators and even to
Artforum, February that, ultimately, I might combine both activities. Having worked for four years as the collaborate with them (on an optional basis) on museum projects, as well as with the
2004, 115.
New York cultural correspondent for the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia and as opportunity to borrow works from the museum collection for the final year exhibition
a contributor to the Spanish art journals Lpiz, the now-defunct Rekarte, and others, and to produce the exhibition catalogue with the help of the museums publications

86 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 87

I had never perceived my postgraduate A curatorial program should provide
education along traditional lines; rather, resources and the transfer of information,
I saw myself as a participant in a discursive to be sure, but most importantly,
environment, one that would shape the it should be open to dialogue.
course of my intellectual development.

department. As a curatorial fellow organizing an exhibition under the auspices of course, assure professional success, they can provide the first stepping-stone. The 2
Robert Storr, quoted
in my Entrevista con
the Whitney Museum, one has the privilege of experiencing the programs intricate downside of such programs is, as Robert Storr once observed, that they create high Robert Storr, Rekarte,
relationship with the museum, as it strives strategically to maintain its ideological expectations that are not always fulfilled once the student enters the professional March 1996, 10-11.
independence while bearing the Whitney name responsibly, with all the related world.2
constraints one might expect.

In contrast, the Bard program was established in 1994 around a private contemporary
art collection with the double aim of providing a home for the collection (the CCS
museum houses the Marieluise Hessel collection on permanent loan) and using
it for educational purposes (first-year students curate exhibitions based on the
collection). Moreover, unlike other university curatorial programs, CCS stands on
its own feet within the context of a liberal arts college; it is not under the wing of an
art history department, such as are the masters programs at Columbia University
and New York University. Existing as it does in a kind of no mans land, CCS has
been able to define and develop its program freely, based on the needs of, and
catering to, the new discipline of curatorial practice, rather than being academically
subordinate to an art history department. While graduate students from different
institutions might all eventually mingle together in the professional world, different
forms of schooling result in different profiles. While CCSs focus on contemporary
art and direct contact with artworks, rather than on the study of the contemporary
through the weight of art history and theory, would make it most attractive to those
with a penchant for institutions representing the art of the present, like alternative
spaces and Kunsthallen, other prospective curatorial students might be drawn to
the curatorial departments at museums. But in fact, CCS alumni hold jobs across
the spectrum, working in museums, alternative spaces, university art galleries, and
commercial galleries, or as independent curators.
As to whether or not curatorship can be taught, I believe that such programs as those
offered by Bard, De Appel, or Le Magasin, to name a few, can provide practical
training on the logistical aspects of curatorship and the organization of exhibitions,
but they should also provide room for individual study, the critical discussion of
texts, and for the search and development of new ideas. Added values of these
programs include the fact that one meets and makes alliances with future colleagues
and that they offer a certain cachet to the emerging curator. While they cannot, of

88 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 89


Karina Ericsson Wrn

Okwui Who?
Karina Ericsson Wrn
is a writer and critic in
When I first heard about the curatorial program at Konstfack, University College of a newly constructed room? Is it OK to pay for a catalogue essay but not be able to
the field of fashion and
Arts, Craft and Design, in Stockholm, I was quite skeptical. I believed that the core afford airplane tickets so your artists can attend the opening? Curatorial practice is
Course Manager at the of self-generated energy every curator must have is not something you can acquire filled with such complex ethical decisions. This list of things you have to think of
CuratorLab at Konstfack,
by spending time at school, no matter how experimental or theoretically interesting is, as every curator and artist knows, more or less endless.
University College of
Art, Craft and Design, that time at school might be.
in Stockholm. She was For CuratorLab, this list is not about some hypothetical scenario. It is not a list of
the founder of and
curator at Galleri Gauss But in retrospect, I have to admit that maybe my feelings were based on jealousy. tasks we merely play with in the classroom. We engage in actual intense situations,
(1981-1986) and the Like many others of my generation (I presented my first exhibition in 1981), I have and I think this is the most valuable part of the program. We do not pretend to do
Director of Index - The
Swedish Contemporary
had to put together my curatorial education on my own. It was an education obtained shows; we do them, in real life. Responsibility and moral questions are always
Art Foundation (1991 through practice and more practice, and by reading texts that seemed to me to be on the agenda. And students have also worked with me during my years as a
- 2001) and Acting
appropriate, relevant and necessary. It was learning by doing - everything. But then, curator and director at Index and IASPIS in Stockholm; they were my co-curators
Director at IASPIS (2002-
2003) in Stockholm. suddenly, everything was being offered in a single package! for ReShape! at the Venice Biennial in 2003, and were responsible for a public
She is based in Paris and art project in Stockholm funded by Fondation de France. When, after all the studio
In any case, five years ago I accepted, largely out of curiosity, an invitation from visits, meetings, document-filing, and worry about finances, a student asks me (as
Konstfack to teach wanna-be curators. Today, the program is now called CuratorLab, someone does every year), When do we start to curate? my answer is, You already
a name that seeks to underscore its structure and educational approach. While a have.
theoretical section is, of course, included in the package, there also workshops that
in their structure almost resemble a Luna Park. Take, for instance, the workshop From time to time, I am asked whether curatorial programs might not put too much
Whos Who? where every week I assign each student a different name from the emphasis on curatorial strategy to the detriment of content. Honestly, I have no
field of curating. The following week, they have to present a fifteen-minute talk on answer to this since I am not all that familiar with what goes on in other classrooms
the name they were given. These are not always curators; they may be important around the world. But for me as a teacher, the most important point is selecting
exhibitions, critics, cities, books, or institutions. So, in a rather relaxed way, this applicants to the program. I am always looking for people who show a strong interest,
workshop combines research, essential knowledge about the field, and public not in curating itself, but in some particular topic (or even several) that needs to be
presentation. formulated and expressed - and the curatorial method might provide a way for such
a person to realize his or her story. Applicants whose primary desire seems to be to
In addition to doing various kinds of research, program participants also travel, make have the title curator printed on their business cards do not really interest me. They
studio visits, put together budgets, write press releases and essays, develop funding go straight into my No file. You have to have some groceries to be able to make
strategies, and learn about electrical wiring and PAL video systems. Construct walls dinner. You will not be able to do it with kitchen utensils alone.
(literally); get to know everything about insurance and transportation; learn to say
no; always be honest; no hidden agendas; and always, always, stand behind your Recently, when we were interviewing applicants for the CuratorLab, one would-be
show and its participants. Spend sleepless nights worrying about justice. Is it fair to student was asked what she thought of Okwui Enwezors latest big show. The jury
pay an artist who needs only a pencil to do her wall drawing in two days the same member who asked this - Ronald Jones, a professor at Konstfack - was, of course,
amount you pay her colleague, who needs three video projectors, one assistant, and referring to Documenta 11. The applicant, a young woman who had already spent

90 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 91

The last day of Konstfack a year at another curating program (I will not mention the name) sank into silence. Standing, from left to
at Valhallavgen, June right: Luca Frei (artist),
2004. The school moved After a while, she replied, Okwui who? Amanda Cardell (artist)
to a new address, and Robert Stasinski
the curatorial program (student), Gunilla
changed its name to
So there we were, interviewing an applicant who had already gone through one Klingberg (artist), Frans-
CuratorLab. curating program, and she had no clue as to who was who. She was, as it were, Josef Petersson (student).
quite lost in the field. But even while she was desperately trying to orient herself and Sitting, from left to right:
Ikko Yokoyama (student),
straighten things out, she was also carrying some rather heavy luggage - luggage Marianna Garin (student),
filled with dreams and ideas, including a postgraduate knowledge of chemistry, Johan Thurfjell (artist),
Lars Siltberg (artist),
all of which she hoped to visualize in three-dimensional projects. We came to the Kajsa Dahlberg (artist),
conclusion that we had to give her the tools to do this. She was very well-supplied Felix Gmelin (artist).
in the groceries department.

Another recurrent question is whether curating programs do not overemphasize the

curator as dictator to the detriment of the artist. This question, of course, relates to
various power structures. Who gets the microphone? At the CuratorLab, situated in
an art school, where we have students with very different backgrounds (architects,
designers, and artists - though so far no poets), this potential power struggle is
eliminated. Or at least it is not about one kind of professionalism at the expense of
another. But frankly, I am not so interested in putting labels on people, and I have
to admit that, in my eyes, Harald Szeeman is - a great artist!

Finally, do I believe in curatorial programs? Yes, as long as they do not raise any false
expectations about a future life of luxury and fame, and as long as they combine the
knowledge of different strategies with content. For me, strategy and content do not
need to be ranked in any specific order. The most important thing is: the day you
get the microphone in your hands, you must have something to say, and you must
be able to express it.

92 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 93


Mns Wrange

Whos Afraid of the

Big Bad Curator? is probably reflected in the content of
Mns Wrange In your opinion, is curatorial instruction from other fields, such as science or
is an artist based
in Stockholm. He is focused too much on the figure of politics. the course. CuratorLab is organized by
professor at the Fine the curator rather than on that of the a fine arts department that has a very
Arts Department and experimental direction, and the people
artist? Is curatorial instruction focused too much
director of CuratorLab
at Konstfack, University It depends on which curatorial course you on curatorial strategy at the expense of who teach in the course are a mixture
College of Arts, are talking about. But I can definitely see content? of artists and professionals from the
Crafts and Design in
Stockholm. In 1999 he that danger when you have courses where It depends on whether you think independent curatorial scene and art
founded, together with no artists are involved as teachers. I can that strategy and content can be fully criticism. This will naturally be reflected in
architect Igor Isaksson,
OMBUD - The Institute only answer from my own perspective separated. I think that strategy is an our course. CuratorLab is structured in the
for Improving Society as an artist who founded CuratorLab in important aspect of curatorial practice same way as the fine arts program, which
(, a is project-based and largely adapted to the
the fine arts department at Konstfack that, of course, will have an effect on
network of people from
research, the arts, and in Stockholm. The aim of this course the content, and vice versa. In order to individual students interests and focus.
opinion forming. His has been, from the very beginning, to work with a particular idea, you might This means that the content of the course
works have been widely
shown internationally, counteract that development where, in need to develop the appropriate strategy. will, to a large extent, change depending
including Manifesta many situations, the curator has become Sometimes, the strategy itself is the on who the students are. The intention
4, Frankfurt; We Are
All Sinners, Museo the leading star and artists have been content. with CuratorLab is not to produce new
Tamayo, Mexico City; degraded to a kind of supporting actors curators for institutions but, rather, to
Tele[vision], Kunsthalle function as a kind of a testing ground for
or extras. CuratorLab is as much geared Do curatorial courses celebrate and
Wien; Swedish Hearts,
Moderna Museet, towards artists and even, for example, communicate only certain kinds of new curatorial approaches and a critical
Stockholm, Incidental designers and architects, as towards curatorial practice while ignoring others investigation of curatorial practices. In
Alterations, P.S. 1
Museum, New York, curators and those with a background in - for example, those that are quieter our case, we have been more criticized
Transpositions, South art history. Each year around 20 to 25 and more discreet, or those that are for placing too little emphasis on the
African National Gallery,
Cape Town, 100 Artists percent of our students are artists, and the more experimental, innovative, and less more traditional curatorial practice and
See God, touring show in course is also directly linked with the fine conventional? arts management that are more directed
the USA, and Hypnosis, towards art institutions and work with
arts program, where curatorial students My impression of the curatorial courses
Art Moscow.
collaborate with art students on various I know of is that they often relate to the collections. But on the other hand, what
projects as well as sharing lectures and practice of the specific institution that is experimental and what is conventional?
discussions. A great deal of emphasis organizes the course. If, for example, an Many so-called experimental art
is placed, too, on creating a mutually art history department offers a course, practices, such as site-specific projects,
interesting collaboration between artists there is a big chance that the course will interventions, and web projects, have
and curators. Other types of collaboration have a more theoretical direction than if today, in many instances, become just
are also explored, such as with writers, it is organized by a art institution, where as much a part of institutional practice as
designers, and architects, or with people the exhibition program of that institution the white cube aesthetic.

94 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 95


Richard Flood

Questions Re:
Richard Flood My responses to the questions posed by the magazine are contextualized by the others require Franciscan modesty. One curator can project any number of personae
is the Chief Curator &
Deputy Director of the
Walker Art Centers fellowship program, which has been in continuous operation in the course of a career and, hopefully, these personae represent an appropriate
Walker Art Center. He since 1965 and involves young scholars in every aspect of the Walkers curatorial understanding of the curatorial assignment. Nonetheless, whether the exhibition
curated Sigmar Polke:
practice. Because the Walker is multidisciplinary (with departments in film and video, is an extravaganza of globalism or a quiet monograph (reverse the modifiers for
Illumination, Brilliant!
New Art from London, performing arts, design, new media, and visual arts), the fellows, too, are involved a new paradigm), respect for the artist and the artwork should, above all else, be
no place (like home), every aspect of the creative process. Over the years, the program has trained more the essence of the contract. Without that respect, the curator simply becomes an
Robert Gober: Sculpture
+ Drawing, Matthew than sixty curators and education professionals who have gone on to positions at a interpreter of a language without meaning.
Barney, Cremaster 2: range of institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum,
The Drones Exposition
and, with Frances Morris
the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, 4) It is difficult to generalize regarding cumulative effects in curatorial programs.
of Tate Modern, London the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Serpentine in London. My suspicion is that the practical often takes a backseat to the conceptual, and that
he has co-curated Zero
self-reflexivity tends to trump the institutional/programmatic mission. The notion of
to Infinity: Arte Povera
1962-1972. He is 1) The ideal mission for programs dedicated to training young scholars for a degree-bearing curator is often at odds with the ideal of a collective creativity
currently working on curatorial practice is to provide them with all the necessary tools for pursuing an where a democracy of differing talents is essential to the highest realization of a
America is Waiting:
The Art of Cultural aggressive, professional, and highly motivated career. Implicit in that construct is the project. There is also the danger that a solipsistic curatorial vision puts the audience
Inquiry, 1979-1989, encouragement of intellectual independence that hopefully enables scholars to enter and the educational goals in jeopardy. The best curatorial endeavors depend on
scheduled for exhibition
in summer 2006. He
the world knowing that their differences count. They will also hopefully emerge with teamwork; to create and maintain a team requires energy, respect for others, and an
has written extensively the confidence to explore new models for the support of liberated ideas about art atmosphere that rewards innovation. When that compact is breached - when artists
on contemporary art
and the way it is exhibited and understood. Finally, it is essential that these nascent and collaborators become secondary to the pursuit - the always-persistent possibility
and film for Artforum,
Frieze and Parkett and curators understand that art, artists, and ideas are the center of the equation, and of a post-curatorial era is nearby.
has taught at The Rhode not they themselves.
Island School of Design
and the School of Visual The study of curatorial history is of enormous importance because, at its best, it
Arts, New York City. 2) I am assuming that curators-in-training arrive at their institutions with the art- is a record of incredible humanistic achievement. And, at its worst, it is a tale of
historical course work completed and with an intellectual readiness to begin their dangerous venality (personal, professional, and political). The worst of the new is
life in a real world dedicated to the public presentation of art, artists, and ideas. If frequently the result of ignoring the past, while the best of the new benefits from an
the real world is one dedicated to artistic and civic ideals, the course is set for the understanding of what has preceded it. History is a goal always awaiting completion;
immediate involvement of students in every aspect of curating - from conceptualizing it needs participants and activation to summon up a pulse. Curators contribute to
an exhibition to its realization and, along the way, taking into account budgeting, history by reflecting the world in their practice, by looking at history through various
education, publications, audience development, and marketing. This curriculum lenses, and by creating situations where understanding dominates presentation.
is all about doing and emphasizes a team approach where interdependencies are

3) The biggest dangers faced by curators are hubris and intellectual bankruptcy.
Every exhibition calls for a different response; some need entrepreneurship, while

96 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 97


Kate Fowle

Curating as a Process
Kate Fowle With the recent proliferation of curating courses, it will come as no surprise that in Differentiating between studies and practice might be seen as a matter of
is co-chair of the masters
degree program in
2003 a two-year program in curatorial practice was established at the California semantics, but for the California College of the Arts the distinction was an important
curatorial practice at the College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. What may be somewhat of a revelation, one in devising the new program, first, because of its art-school context and, second,
California College of the
however, is that this is the first program to be offered on the U.S. West Coast. In fact, because of the courses West Coast location, where there is a strong legacy of artist-
Arts in San Francisco and
an independent curator. it is currently the United States only dedicated masters degree program in curating led initiatives and movements, such as Land Art, which have extended curatorial
Her recent exhibitions outside New York, which goes to show that, in this country at least, the formal concerns beyond so-called institutional models and traditional gallery spaces. Of
include Tonite! at
Spanganga Gallery and training of contemporary-art curators is still relatively uncharted territory. equal importance are the social, cultural, and political influences on the region from
17 Reasons at the Jack Asia and Latin America, which affect the understanding of the art scene on an
Hanley Gallery in San
Francisco. Her book on
The question of how useful or necessary it is to study curating has been met international level.
recent architecture in San with skepticism on both sides of the Atlantic, not least because of the fear of
Francisco is forthcoming.
overpopulating an already competitive profession. At the same time, it is increasingly These influences and curatorial models are often sparsely documented or rely on a
recognized that as contemporary art has evolved, the role of the curator has followed knowledge of the context for their understanding; consequently, textbooks and other
suit. Practitioners are now as much mediators and producers of culture as they are secondary sources can provide only little of the information needed to appreciate
keepers of institutional mandates or purveyors of taste. Working relationships with the unique sets of physical and social parameters that go into the realization of
artists are becoming more complex as the scope and ambitions of projects grow an exhibition or event. Students must visit sites if they are to know the reality of
and challenge established exhibition norms. Concurrently, ideas on the relationship interactions with colleagues, artists, audiences, and benefactors; they need to meet
between art, site, and audience have expanded, and the ways organizations are with practitioners who can give them first-hand accounts about the considerations
structured and administered have become more diverse. It could be said that curating that influence professional decision-making from all perspectives. They also need to
is now a field rather than a job, and so it makes it harder to rely on the traditional develop projects, in groups and independently, in order to test out ideas and learn
career strategy of apprenticeship (after completion of an art history degree) as a way from their mistakes and achievements.
of gaining needed skills and an understanding of the curatorial debates that have
emerged over the last sixty years. A curating program provides time for people to So, while the CCA program has been designed to encompass training around
build on their knowledge, to experiment, and to challenge their assumptions of the institutional curatorial strategies, including collecting, displaying, interpreting, and
field. conserving art - with classes during the first year of the program held at the CCAs
Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the San Francisco
But in some respects, the notion of study in relation to curating remains problematic, Museum of Modern Art, as well as in-class presentations by curators working at the
as it implies a certain distance from the subject, which is counterintuitive to the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the
process of exhibition-making. Just as an artist develops an art practice, perfecting Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among others - the program places
both conceptual and practical methods, so a curator similarly needs to develop as much emphasis on, for example, artists expanded approaches to curating.
a curatorial practice: continuously engaging with artists production, exercising
discursive skills, and refining her or his practical experience. In the programs first year, Fred Wilson worked with the students to develop a project
that explored his practice of institutional critique. In the fall of 2004, Hans Haacke
and Andrea Fraser are each working separately with incoming students around

98 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 99

The question of how useful or necessary
it is to study curating has been met
with skepticism on both sides of the Atlantic,
not least because of the fear of overpopulating
an already competitive profession.

the same issue. In recognizing one aspect of the West Coasts specific character, last anywhere from an afternoon to six weeks. In the classroom, students have met
artists such as Jeffrey Vallance and Dave Muller, both of whom have blurred the with artists who were past participants in the project and examined inSITE in the
boundaries between art and curatorial practice, also share their experiences and context of public art developments in Latin and North America. In November 2004,
perspectives. These discussions introduce a performative, or project-oriented, students will spend four days in San Diego and Tijuana, participating in tours of
method of exhibition-making, and also shift the emphasis from the figure of the both cities similar to those commissioned artists receive when they are introduced to
curator back to the artist. the ambitions of the project. In this way, students can consider the specifics of the
commissioning process from the perspective of the artists. They will then meet with
Offering another viewpoint, Sandra Percival, director of the Public Art Development some of the current participants, curators, and organizers to learn of the problems
Trust in London, examines the topic of commissioning in her class, exploring and questions that have arisen as new works developed. This will allow students
the curators role in the production of an exhibition or new work. By posing such the opportunity to witness the reality of how a process is affected by the specifics
questions as, What does an artist require of a curator in site-related or socially of location and public interaction. The curators role is thereby posited as one that
oriented projects? and How does a curator engage with an artist to determine the goes beyond working with spatial concerns in relation to art practice; it is seen as
best work for a specific moment or place? Percival has encouraged students to see also encompassing the idea of creating mental, social, and political spaces in which
the possibilities of a curatorial approach that is process-oriented, rather like that of a issues and ideas relevant to contemporary society may be discussed.
producer or facilitator. On other occasions, students have held in-class conversations
with such artists as Alfredo Jaar or Wang Jian Wei, asking logistical questions and This concept is taken a step further in a class developed by Matthew Coolidge,
sharing different outlooks on the expectations and responsibilities of realizing large- director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), a quasi-institutional
scale non-gallery projects. organization that grew out of Coolidges interest in the eclectic uses of land in the vast
American West. The students spend a week at the Centers interpretive compound
Research trips provide instances of diverse curatorial models in action. By in Wendover, Utah, on the edge of the Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake Desert.
establishing ongoing relationships with some of the unique projects and organizations Coolidge regards the area as an underappreciated region of national significance,
in the region, the program has been able simultaneously to offer students an that is often considered to be the emptiest place in the Lower Forty-eight States.
opportunity to conduct primary research on site as well as to take classroom Home to Robert Smithsons Spiral Jetty and Nancy Holts Sun Tunnels, as well
discussions to another level. as casinos, a U.S. Air Force base, and a toxic waste disposal site, students look
at how places in the region are perceived, through both conversations with local
Through collaboration with the organizers of inSITE, for example, the students representatives as well as presentations from CLUI staff. During the trip, students
have had the opportunity to explore the entire process of the projects most recent focus on considerations of place, or space, as a curatable medium and on the
incarnation, which opens to the public in the summer of 2005. The inSITE project process of curating as the construction of a point of view. They are expected to
was established in 1992 as a binational event across the U.S.-Mexican border. collect data and, when they return to the classroom, to devise a tour individually that
Featuring a different theme with each installment, the project is process-oriented, represents their own curatorial statement on the area, constructing an experience
involving artists commissions and residencies, which offer participants the chance that is composed of sites and dialogues from the region. This project can then be
to respond to physical and cultural issues in the neighboring cities of San Diego and developed further in the students own time, leading to the production of exhibitions
Tijuana, culminating in a public presentation where events and installations can and presentations for CLUIs Wendover site.

100 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 101

It could be said that curating is now a field
rather than a job, and so it makes it harder
to rely on the traditional career strategy of
apprenticeship (after completion of an art history
degree) as a way of gaining needed skills and
an understanding of the curatorial debates that
have emerged over the last sixty years.

In a similar vein, there are, over the two years of the program, other opportunities Many of the research trips and projects with international visiting faculty would
for gaining practical experience that depend on the students particular interests. not be possible without the support of trusts and foundations interested in the
Students may choose to carry out an internship with a local organization alongside pedagogical development of the field. Since the program started a year ago, CCA
their studies or wait until the summer interval between their first and second year to has received substantial funding from the Getty Grant Program to help realize the
undertake a work placement for an intensive period. They might submit a proposal courses aim of developing a network of visiting faculty and initiating site-based
to curate an exhibition for the ongoing program at the colleges student-run gallery projects. Support from the Christensen Fund has helped in hosting visiting faculty
or participate in a semester-long event, such as the exhibition project that curator- from Asia and Latin America to the program, while an informal collaboration with the
in-residence Manray Hsu developed to elucidate issues of cultural globalization Asian Cultural Council in New York has enabled the college to bring art professionals
and apply some of his Eastern-influenced philosophies towards curatorial practice. from Asia to San Francisco. These partnerships, together with the willingness of
The one practical project that is mandatory is the thesis exhibition, which requires artists, critics, and curators to dedicate time and energy to working with students, are
students to work collaboratively to conceive and organize an exhibition and catalogue testimony to a desire on the part of the industry to encourage emerging generations
(following the model established by the Royal College of Arts Curating Contemporary of curators to excel in a constantly evolving field. In return, courses such as CCAs
Art program) as a way of learning about working and negotiating with colleagues, Curatorial Practice program can support these developments by documenting the
pooling resources and expertise, as well as other practical aspects of seeing an different models and perspectives for an interested public and providing an ongoing
exhibition through from beginning to end. commitment to education that builds on the knowledge and expertise of faculty and
participating organizations.

August 2004

Further information on CCAs Curatorial Practice program may be found at www. and

102 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 MJ - Manifesta Journal no. 4 103

MJ - Manifesta Journal
journal of contemporary curatorship

No. 4, Autumn / Winter 2004

Teaching Curatorship

Published by:
Moderna galerija (Musem of Modern Art) Ljubljana
Ljubljana, Slovenia
International Foundation Manifesta
Amsterdam, The Netherlands The International Foundation Manifesta (IFM), with
offices in Amsterdam, the Netherlands organizes
Editors: and co-ordinates the New Network Program, which
Viktor Misiano is a multi-faceted resource and research program,
Igor Zabel encompassing the Manifesta Biennial, the Manifesta
Archives and a program of publications, discussions
Managing editor: and related activities, focusing on contemporary art
Marieke van Hal and its role in society.

English language editor:

Rawley Grau
MJ - Manifesta Journal is part of the Manifesta
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MJ - Manifesta Journal Special thanks to Hedwig Fijen, Zdenka Badovinac,

Journal of contemporary curatorship Mateja Kos, Nataa Vuga, Viktor Misiano and all
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