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Subject:

Re: curating critically

From:

mathew kabatoff <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/

Date:

Fri, 15 Feb 2002 15:36:26 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (340 lines)

I think that the points you make Steve, are quite valid. I do however have
to disagree with your comment that the curator is a "function not a person",
even though there are in fact positions of fluidity, and the production of
discourse that can only be carried out through curatorial functions. I do
agree that 'context' is key to the operation of the curator, whether it
happens that an artist is able to represent and frame their compatriots
within a gallery space, or if a curator, like Paul or Ippolito is able to
both engage in the rigor of museum programming, catalogue essay writing, and
a practice.

What I would argue, and I think that this is one of the reasons for the
forum, is that the 'person' is directly linked to the 'imagination' of
future curatorial practice that attempts, alongside artists, historians, and
critics to represent this time, this articulatable space. Manetas could be
seen as a somewhat useful example, embodying the role as
artist/curator/media centre director, as he not only has a painting/flash
animation practice, but did start up the 'electronic orphanage', and as you
mentioned (which I didn't know) is curating a "whitney" show. The problem
however with  Manetas, is that he defaults on the side of artworld fashion,
corporatism and therefore conservatism. Even though he wears the mask of the
multi-tasker, the model that he is presenting (at least in terms of a vision
of new media work/painting that he is bringing into the standard operations
of the art world gallery system) takes on the 'ethic' of the media-lab, but
is certainly 'not' a hotbed of innovation. I would stick my neck even a
little further to say that, the reason it is 'not' a hotbed of innovation,
is because of the 'person' and not the role. Obviously the 'role' is
exciting, having a medialab in...Los Angeles...in where ever, having access
to prime showing space...is really amazing. The thing is that Manetas is the
'person' who is directing that production, is the 'person' who is directing
what discourse is produced around both the artwork and the ethos of the lab,
and is the 'person' who takes this representation to more traditional others
in the artworld. I think that the vision presented by Manetas, lacks
imagination.

Across Chunk-King Road however (and you are close to this group of people as
well Steve) there is a space called C-Level. C-Level is a media lab founded
I believe one year ago by Eddo Stern, Mark Allen and a number of other x-Cal
Arts grads who remained in LA <http://c-level.cc>. C-Level, apart from the
fact that it was really started out of the desire to have a showing space
for these artists, has presented a certain type of curatorial vision, the
showing and hosting of critically minded media makers in their space. They
have help small symposia including some of the BIT people, have shown
recently produced documentaries and had some interesting video game
intervention performance, like the "Tekken Torture Tournament". Apart form
this practice, because again we have a similar form, and we have a similar
role, the directed vision behind the project is radically different as it
provides both intellectual and financial space to produce interesting
projects. Because the distributive network is disrupted that represents the
general ladder of the artworld, there is a bit of room to move.

I think that this is vital, to new media production and is what essentially
marks a difference in the productive zones of practice (no temporary
business here!! ;)). Meaning that the new media world, and yeah I do
acknowledge the thin membrane between art world interface, but that the new
media world has had, finding now even greater interest and resources, media
lab sites, which are active. Thus binding the curator/producer/director to
what is produced in the space, and how it is represented to outside
discourses. Because there is a concentration, both on the part of the artist
and the curator, a closer dialogue can be produced, where showing space is
not the 'end all', but rather a site for convergences of the discourses of
production, criticism, history and presentation. I think that these zones,
as temporary as they may be, offer some imagination for future practice,
which may or may not be unusual in its form, but certainly unusual in how it
is carried out.

m




On 2/13/02 10:23 AM, "Steve Dietz" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Thanks for dredging that one up, Mathew. It does seem my response was a bit
> truncated. ;-)
>
> I suppose it's obvious, but I think it's worth stressing - that the curatorial
> role is a function not a person. Roles are fluid and multiple. "Early on" -
> and
> continuing - practicing artists have been the best curators of net art (or is
> it
> vice versa?) Miltos Manetas and Christiane Paul are both curating "whitney"
> shows. They are differently sanctioned. Miltos also has a role as an artist
> and,
> I believe, Christiane has had a (creative) role in the creation of
> collaborative
> art projects. Neen and Christiane's forthcoming book are also both kinds of
> criticism. The difference, I might try and argue, between their practices
> isn't
> one that makes a difference. It's the context in which it happens. And even
> that
> needs to be nuanced. What's the qualititative difference between how the
> Whitney
> supported Data Dynamics, say, and how Neen was presented at Gogosian gallery?
>
> Mathew's putting into play the role of curator as producer reminds me of
> Gerfried's oft-stated comparison of new and old museological practices, one of
> the main differences being the shift from presenter to producer. I'm not sure,
> however, this is specific to new media. It may seem like it looking through
> the
> lens of visual arts, but in the area of performing arts, it is quite common
> for
> the presenter to also be a producer. Walker's curator of performaing arts
> (Philip Bither) does this all the time. Looking at new media through the lens
> of
> performing arts, I would say that in commissioning works for Gallery 9, I both
> make a selection (curate) and am more and less involved in enabling its
> production, but this is not that unusual. Is it?
>
> s
>
> 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 Mathew Kabatoff
>> Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 12:36 AM
>> 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
>> 'curator'"
>>
>> Steve answered (permit this flashback steve) "there doesn't appear to be
>> any difference".
>>
>> Thinking about this conflation in regards to the role of the curator, as well
>> 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
>> presented.
>>
>> 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 significantly
>> 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'.
>>
>> mathew
>>
>>
>>> Thought this article was interesting in relation to discussion of curating.
>>>
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/12/arts/design/12CURA.html?todayshea
>> dlines
>>>
>>>
>>> A couple of things that I appreciated about what Enwezor said:
>>> "Mr. Enwezor said he blamed this narrow vision on a kind of inherent
>> timidity
>>> shared by many curators, dealers and collectors. "What really struck me
>> was how
>>> 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
>> net
>>> art, etc. - which I don't necessarily disagree with and certainly
>> practice at
>>> times, but it also seems like an opportunity to experiment on the
>> curatorial
>>> side of things as well as the art making/culture producing side, and to
>> what
>>> extent does that mean trying to figure something out that interests you,
>> as a
>>> curator, without necessarily knowing the answer or even knowing if how
>> you
>>> 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
>> attention
>>> to the world that gives birth to art, rather than to try to predict its next
>>> trend. "Given the complexity of deep entanglements with which we live, it
>> makes
>>> no sense to predict," he said. "I see the exhibition as more of a
>> diagnosis than
>>> 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
>> may not
>>> be always the most useful role.
>>>
>>> s
>>>
>>>
>>> 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
>> Sarah Thompson
>>>> 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
>> archiving,
>>>> 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
>> exhibited
>>>> in galleries or online etc..
>>>> Now musuems of modern art archive the processes of contemporary
>>>> commissioning, presentation and appreciation of the arts too - 'as
>> they
>>>> happen'.. So the archives are digital. These archives are strange
>> because
>>>> they themselves exist within unstable media. In other words whose
>> going to
>>>> archive the archives. (Ada web has already been archived I suppose).
>>>> Then there's the curating practice of producing exhibitions of works
>> which
>>>> have not yet been evaluated within a market context. These exhibitions
>> are
>>>> often on themes conceived by the curator who perhaps might extend
>> this
>>>> 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
>> also
>>>> curated I think.
>>>>
>>>> The economies of these processes are increasingly interlinked. The
>>>> artist/curator might get funding for an exhibition which they can then
>> pass
>>>> on to other artists who they feel they can collaborate with in producing
>> a
>>>> show (for instance). This show might involve a network outside the
>> gallery
>>>> context, which also collaborates with the experience. As such,
>> elements of
>>>> the experience may become archived in a casual kind of way. These
>> informal
>>>> archives might at some point find their way into a museum as
>> evidence of
>>>> 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
>> and
>>>> 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
>> yes,
>>>>> why?
>>>>
>>>> The liberties which are taken seem to be related to the very nature of
>> the
>>>> web, the way the web has so far been engineered and the way that
>> this
>>>> architecture affects perceptions of what constitutes the work. In other
>>>> words there is no engineered structure which denotes unequivocally
>> the
>>>> 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 structure
>>>> 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? If
>>>>> 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,
>> aesthetic
>>>> 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
>> part
>>>>> 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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