I'm enjoying this discussion - but - am perplexed by the suggested need (is
curator more important than critic) to attribute hierarchical values to the
roles of any cultural producers/commentators. Surely we're all part of the
mix? For me it's the variety of voices, perspectives intentions and
opinions, along with the resultant tensions, that make it interesting and,
scuse me if i'm reacting out of context, I have to admit to speed reading
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From: Mathew Kabatoff [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 13 February 2002 06:36
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: curating critically
In a long forgotten email, I actually sent to Steve approximately 2 years
ago, I asked "in a contemporary moement where the modes of production
around media based practices that were at times expensive, vying for
exhibition space and the establishment of a critical and historically
succienct discourse, was there any difference between a 'producer' and a
Steve answered (permit this flashback steve) "there doesn't appear to be
Thinking about this conflation in regards to the role of the curator, as
as several assertions by list-members that "curators are in fact more
important than critics", it would seem then that the curators role to the
production new media art (in this case) is bound to both captial and
discursive ecomonies. This could be an interesting intersection in terms
of practice as modes of distribution, as the curator is the one constructing
an exhibition that is supported by either a local, national or international
institution. The curator, and I think that it could really be said to be
opportunisitically specific to new media practices, as they involve so
much, the purchasing of technologies and the rearticulation of exhibition
space in the face of burgening artistic practices, that alternate modes of
display, organization and in fact new media art production, can be
I am thinking here of a potential role for the curator to move along both
horizontal and vertical axis of exhibition, presentation and the
development of discourse. Therefore the curator would be able to
intervene, or to work with artists at various levels that would
contribute to the greater discourse and representation of new media
practices. The curator could embody a role that was working with and
alongside artists, not meaning that they would produce their work, but
almost collaborate in the development of a discourse, the firming of
exhibition space and the articulation of discussion on the lecture circuit.
The document produced around the show is neither criticism, or art
history, but the historical, theorietical and economic conditions that frame
the work. It seems that this mode, is what makes the role of the curator
different from either the historian or the critic, as their practice is not
hermunetically sealed within it own written substrate. But the question is,
is that if priviledge this mode of heterogeneous artistic support, is
priviledged over strident methods history or criticism, does the discursive
space risk entropy, due to the expenditure of energies in some many
areas in while producing: the best gallery setting, the best web-site, the
best catalogue essay, the best relationship with the artist etc...(i guess
that is why you would have a production team).
apologies for rambling, but I think that the disussion put forth on the list
really has been towards the better articulation of new-media art curation
and the discursive set of terms that surround it. opposed to the resistance
the steve is providing in terms of 'defining and killing' both the discourse
and practice, this forum, amongst others seems to be so much about a
certain type of coherence and 'coming together'.
> Thought this article was interesting in relation to discussion of
> A couple of things that I appreciated about what Enwezor said:
> "Mr. Enwezor said he blamed this narrow vision on a kind of inherent
> shared by many curators, dealers and collectors. "What really struck me
> conservative they were, the lack of intellectual curiosity, their fear of
> failure or to explore anything before it became a fashion.""
> I keep hearing talk about "it's time" to sum things up; to "really" assess
> art, etc. - which I don't necessarily disagree with and certainly practice
> times, but it also seems like an opportunity to experiment on the
> side of things as well as the art making/culture producing side, and to
> extent does that mean trying to figure something out that interests you,
> curator, without necessarily knowing the answer or even knowing if how
> approach the matter will be a "success?"
> Enwezor also said:
> "For his part, Mr. Enwezor says the duty of a curator is to pay close
> to the world that gives birth to art, rather than to try to predict its
> trend. "Given the complexity of deep entanglements with which we live, it
> no sense to predict," he said. "I see the exhibition as more of a
> a prognosis.""
> While I probably overstate the case, I think it's worth holding in my the
> _possibility_ that defining something is another way of predicting and
> be always the most useful role.
> Steve Dietz
> Curator New Media
> Walker Art Center
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/
> > [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2002 5:12 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: curating critically
> > re: Josephine 's questions - >
> > >1 - it is beyond doubt that curators are as important or probably more
> > >important as critics in the way art is perceived. Can they make a
> > >difference as to how it is valuated (economically) as well?
> > I used to think curators were very much connected to the role of
> > if only in terms of cataloging and contextualising works of art. Is this
> > not still the case? Archiving is closely connected to evaluation. This
> > museum practice is what happens generally after works have been
> > in galleries or online etc..
> > Now musuems of modern art archive the processes of contemporary
> > commissioning, presentation and appreciation of the arts too - 'as
> > happen'.. So the archives are digital. These archives are strange
> > they themselves exist within unstable media. In other words whose
> > archive the archives. (Ada web has already been archived I suppose).
> > Then there's the curating practice of producing exhibitions of works
> > have not yet been evaluated within a market context. These exhibitions
> > often on themes conceived by the curator who perhaps might extend
> > notion to it being a concept similar to that in art practice - more
> > personal and specific than usual. This is why so many artists have
> > curated I think.
> > The economies of these processes are increasingly interlinked. The
> > artist/curator might get funding for an exhibition which they can then
> > on to other artists who they feel they can collaborate with in producing
> > show (for instance). This show might involve a network outside the
> > context, which also collaborates with the experience. As such,
> > the experience may become archived in a casual kind of way. These
> > archives might at some point find their way into a museum as
> > the original event. (or diagrams in the gallery)
> > As such, what is being funded is a kind of asynchronous distributed
> > event/performance which depends on technological continuity to be
> > re-enacted.
> > There is a relationship here between moving
image/performance/event and the
> > gallery/museum as a space for the free/paid for consumption of ideas
> > experiences
> > >
> > >2 - There are on line and off line exhibitions. Do curators take more
> > >liberties (with both the artists and the artworks) when they arrange an
> > >on line exhibition then when they organize physical exhibitions? If
> > >why?
> > The liberties which are taken seem to be related to the very nature of
> > web, the way the web has so far been engineered and the way that
> > architecture affects perceptions of what constitutes the work. In other
> > words there is no engineered structure which denotes unequivocally
> > source of the work. It is also all too easy for big institutions to view
> > the web as a content pool, for which there is, as yet, no legal
> > requiring them to pay for use/access.
> > >3 - When dealing with net art (but also other electronic art and new
> > >media art) do curators realize at all there is a history and context?
> > >yes, should they take this context into account at all? Are catalogues
> > >giving enough insight into the works presented?
> > history and context should be used to appreciate the conceptual,
> > and technical significance of works, but it seems many of the histories
> > which relate to net art and other electronic/new media art need to be
> > discovered..
> > >The web and the net
> > >are not just a collection of journals and magazines, they have some
> > >qualities of tv and radio combined with the personal space of the
> > >telephone. The cultural space has changed, and art institutions are
> > >of it. Art institutions and curators should realise what power politics
> > >they become/became part of.
> > New kind of cultural engineering/production process needed too.
> > :)
> > Sarah
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