Friday, 2 April 2010

How about some advice?

I have read with great amusement this recommendations to a budding curator by the self confessed newspaper man Augustine Zenakos, who in turn was suggested to us by the curator Tom Morton. I couldn't resist but leaving some personal comments.

Read a lot of post-structuralism, preferably in the form of quotations you can find in catalogue essays. Quote them in turn, profusely, making sure their relationship to any actual artwork remains obscure.

Whenever I see the word "post-structuralism", I just turn the page over.

No studying anything before the 1960s is allowed. Learn all your history through contemporary art theory.

I tried that, but my heart belongs with the idea that history, all history, is necessary to do a good job.

Never say you are anything more than a facilitator for artists. If inadvertently you do, and you momentarily appear like having anything remotely resembling a vision or, worse, an agenda, cover it up quickly with a phrase like “curators have to stand firm against the voracity of the market”.

Yes, Master.

Be as immaterial as possible, be a ghost. Support everything anti-spectacular and insubstantial. When asked to describe it, use words like interventional, process-based, archaeological, investigative. If challenged with something like the inability of others to see the point, call them antiquated and formalist and declare the work of art to be changing.

You forgot to include "taxonomy" in your list, Master.

Praise the local, but in abstract terms. Make sure that you choose a local thing that does not require any local knowledge to be understood. If you can’t find something suitably local where you are, pick a Mexican or a Lithuanian one. When faced with a situation that is truly local, dismiss it as nationalist, and continue.

But this will cut any potential fund out, Master.

Be against state-run cultural policies, as well as private enterprise. Declare your support for small autonomous zones of collaboration. When asked about their funding, don’t dwell too much: this is not about money.

And the fact that it is never about money makes the curator zone off limits for those who can't afford it, which is a shame.

Be for independent organizations, but when faced with one, call it cliquey and turn away. There is nothing there for the taking, anyway.

Er...Yes, Master.

Always acknowledge the public. Say that all this is being done for their benefit, because contemporary art is for everyone. Then, blame lack of funding, public support, etc. If someone appears to be practical about these things, call them a behind-the-scenes-mover-and-shaker and state that you are not interested in authoritarian structure.

Wow, I never thought to actually be such a complicated thing. I just thought I was practical.

You’ll do fine.

Thank you, Master.

And now, let's close the little distraction-from-the-more-important-task-of-writing-the-damn-catalogue-text-for-our-show-post and go back to work.

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