I have worked as a curator, producer and artist all my life, from
within the independent sector, into institutions, festivals and venues
in the UK and internationally
This mix, which seems very natural for me, has in fact become much
more "allowed" in recent years - here in the UK it is finally accepted
that of course one can, as an artist, have very interesting overviews,
future visions and expertise, and that vice versa one can, as a
curator, also be a concept maker and creator - but this was not always
At body>data>space we make and show our work collectively - we also
commission, produce and curate other artists work
I did the same in my previous collective situation as shinkansen
(sound and movement research) from 1989 to 2004, where we worked with
over 800 artists. We commissioned and presented many excellent works
from artists as part of the Dance Umbrella, ICA and Future Physical
programmes. We also created and presented in group works, making
content pools involving many artists working with similar themes
(interauthorship). I am very happy that we have done this dual role
now, although at times across the years it has been complex, difficult
and often not accepted by the funders, critics or by other curators !!
(However all is archived in the British Library who found our methods
At present we have an exhibition in Paris with five pieces by
body>data>space (involving about 20 artists all in all) and two piece
by other artists ( Michael Takeo Magruder and Ivor Dioski). This
exhibition - on until Jan 11 at Centre des Arts Enghien-les-Bains,
has been co-curated with the venue and, even though the invitation was
specifically to show work by body>data>space, we considered it an
imperative to include the other artists work, to truly and
convinvingly illustrate the theme " Virtual Physical Bodies " to the
100s of visitors and in particular the schools groups moving through
the exhibition. We also invited another range of artists to write for
the catalogue to get an even sider view. The theme, context and the
constituency of the venue was and is, in my view, the most important
We need to remember that often the names of the artists / curators are
of little relevance to the public in the long run, it is the theme,
the concepts, the way of seeing, thinking, listening, feeling that
stays within the public memory.......
So I agree with the previous comments that it is important to keep
this issue fluid and open - to allow new forms to emerge and for
concepts to be fully illustrated. Maybe it is obvious but it seems to
me that an artist working with a certain set of themes or issues or
methods will, as a matter of good research practice, have an excellent
overview of others working closely and along the same lines, and in
this way may the best person to curate whatever......
I do also see that if one is working in an institutional setting, as
Mike Stubbs discusses, it is not okay to curate your own work at all.
There are examples of people who do, even from within funding bodies,
shift internal funds to self promote - internal producers we call them
- usually they use the situation and their access to finances to give
themselves status as curators, academics and writers !!
It comes down to personal ethics in the end and for example, I would
never ever put body>data>space's work into a competition or
commissioning process where I am on the jury or panel, and I would be
very careful in any curation I am doing only to include work from our
collective if it is truly relevant and important to the theme, the
public and the context.
best festive wishes to all
PS I've just remembered that in fact there is a new scheme in the UK
by New Work Network and Cultural Leadership Programme called
"Connecting the Activators"
'Over the last two years NWN has increasingly recognised a strand of
its membership as key artistic “activators” – developing leaders who
in association with delivering their own artistic practice act as
enablers, facilitators and producers to make extraordinary events
happen in collaboration with other arts practitioners, venues and
New Work Network has been awarded a grant from the Cultural Leadership
office to support a national network of artist-producer/curators
('activators') in a 12 month professional development programme.'
Research Associate Artist
ResCen Middlesex University
Post Me_New ID Forum, looking at identity, the post human body &
digital practices taking
place in conjunction with CYNETart festival / TMA Hellerau in Dresden
between 31st October - 2nd November 2008.
Post Me_New ID is a co-production between body>data>space (London, UK),
CIANT (Prague, Czech Republic), CYNETart / TMA (Dresden, Germany)
and Kibla (Maribor, Slovenia) supported by the European Union within
the Culture 2007 Programme.
Centre des Arts Enghien-les-Bains, Paris
body>data>space exhibition 'Virtual Physical Bodies'
9th October 2008 - 11th January 2009.
Check out the latest b>d>s newsletter
On 22 Dec 2008, at 13:17, Mike Stubbs wrote:
Over the years i've moved from an initially unfunded ari (artists run
initiative) Hull Time Based Arts 87-99 through to increasingly formal
and institutional roles at ACMI Australian Centre for Moving Image,
where issues of probity and insider dealing were often in the news
headlines (mostly surrounding the National Gallery of Victoria) and
now FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology.
This process has been organic and as a young enthusiast some 20 odd
years ago it felt natural to show my work in a collective context form
time to time, now it would feel totally weird to be curating my own
stuff or even for it to be too closely associated with FACT. Its
increasingly difficut to call myself an artist. I have less energy
and am more focussed. Howevery work is still occassionally shown,
though iv'e not made anything for a few years now. In the future
maybe I will again. For now I am very happy developing an
organisation and encouraging good arts practice and public debate.
The professions of arts advocacy, curating and being an artist, are
all demanding and all creative in their different ways. Sometimes
they come together, other times they need to remain separate.
That said I don't like rules and ultimately people will see you for
what you are and we have to trust each others judgement and do what we
feel comfortable with.
And of course, there should always be exceptions to rules and
tolerance for those that break them.
best for next year
88 Wood St
Liverpool L1 4DQ
+ 44 (0) 151 707 4444
skype name: mikestubbs45
On 22 Dec 2008, at 12:45, Simon Biggs wrote:
> I agree with Andreas 99% (I may have curated my own work once, so that
> accounts for the non-100% support).
> Curation is akin to peer review in the sciences. It is the means by
> on the one hand, the curator tells a story or establishes an
> whilst, on the other, the value of artworks (and by extension the
> who produce them) is validated in relation to those stories and
> In the sciences it would be frowned upon big time if somebody was to
> review their own work. That said, anyone familiar with peer review
> in the
> sciences knows that things are not as simple and squeeky clean as
> would like. It is a can of worms.
> Nevertheless, there is a degree of codification of the process of peer
> review which does present a degree of rigour. What would be the
> if this was applied in the artworld? How would it effect the value
> of art,
> the role of the artist, the curator, the peer reviewer? By
> definition the
> curator would have to be a peer of the artists selected and therefore
> another artist (or artists) – therefore implying the end of the
> curator role.
> Mmm? That last outcome sounds very attractive ;) (perhaps not to the
> CRUMB readership though).
> On 22/12/08 12:27, "Andreas Broeckmann" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> friends, a question:
>> it sometimes happens that artists work as curators; it also
>> occasionally happens that these curator artists choose their own
>> artistic work for their exhibitions or programmes.
>> in my view, this looks bad and should not happen, i personally wished
>> that there was a 'code of conduct for curatorial work' that said: 'if
>> you curate a project, you don't select your own work for it (not even
>> if you are a member of a curatorial team'.
>> i know that some practising artists (who also curate) see this
>> differently, for them there is no ethical problem in selecting their
>> own work if it fits into a specific project or conceptual framework.
>> what do people think about this?
> Simon Biggs
> Research Professor
> edinburgh college of art
> [log in to unmask]
> [log in to unmask]
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland,
> number SC009201