Dialogue 1.0 Words exchanged before departure
Q: at this point in time what does the concept of curating mean to you?
A: at this moment it’s about creating a whole out of two parts that shift in relation to the visitor. Part A is the narrative context, the idea that explains why these works have been drawn together and why they sit together hopefully in comfort. Part B is the way we negotiate that narrative in terms of moving through the physical space that houses the art work. This pathway or selection of pathways for engagement compliments the theoretical narrative, the subject ‘matter’ of the exhibition. You can’t have one without the other but I think the success of an exhibition is dependent on the harmony or symbiotic relationship between the two.
Q: what about the artworks themselves?
A: obviously they’re key to the experience but I see the role of the curators is to make the framework for them to be understood in the way they were meant to be when they were created by the artist as much as possible. Work can be read in different ways but I take issue with the idea an artist surrenders the meaning to the public once it is on display and is open to meaning by others.
I would hope the selection of the art within the context I would place it, stands alone in terms of its quality. Artist select themselves on their own ability only to a degree, I see curating as the layering of the perception of the work outside the hands of the artist.
Q: is curating a creative act akin to being an artist?
A: this is the basis of my research, theoretically and practically over the next 12 months.
As an artist first, I approach the activity from a conceptual/creative perspective but then are the points where I conflict with the artist and their values and ideas? Can I ? Does a hybrid exist? I was thinking of ways to describe this and the simplest or perhaps dumbest example is to select a painting and I decide for the context of the show its hung facing the wall, the image hidden and mute. This is obviously wrong, my action creativity negates the artist but what is the ground in between? What if we agree to hang the work against the wall but the visitors are encourage to turn the painting and look at the image?
Q: what you talk of a hybrid artist/curator what do you mean?
A: well I suppose I mean the activity that has been happening probably over the last decade and is a consequence of artist-led initiatives that have risen independent of institutions. Artist have created opportunities for themselves when others we not available, gathering as collectives and exhibiting out of creative and economic necessity. Artists became responsible for creating shows and their angle or entry into curating is initially less academic more from ‘the eye’. This part of the arts ecology has been energised through creative initiative usually realised with little or no funding or support. This means there is a vitality and desire to deliver and flexibility on venues and duration of presentation means the parameters for such exhibitions are different. Now artists are organising shows but its about wearing different hats or as I suggest an extension of creative practice and curating is a conceptual activity in itself? I hope to find out.
I expect this opinion to be subject to change.