On Curating

Peter Lewis

A great deal has been debated around the term 'curating'. Its lack or excess of address prepares it to fall into all hands. We invited responses in any manner of 'writing' (i.e. as inclusive of sound, image, photography, film, video, archives, or by whatever might be considered illuminating) to the following questions for this issue of '/seconds'.

What is curating? What does it do? How can it be taught? Can curating ever be 'adequate'?

What are the subjects and objects of curating, and to whom is it addressed?

Is its (retro)activity valid, a new artistic procedure, an avant-garde?

Are there 'works' named as 'curating' rather than 'curated' ones?

Is curating a symptom of novelty? Is it named only in the works that compose it as a configuration, a singular multiple of [art]works?

What (if not already operative) are the criteria for a pedagogical, curatorial 'system'?

Does negotiation of the boundaries of art's avant-garde return to the locational question?

Some further responses might be reformed around time intervals. Is curating a 'going between' interstitial space and temporality, void without edges (i.e.) art /life?

Questions of smuggling are also implicated in a retrieval of feminist curating. What of the historical, of artists' spaces and their self-determination? Smuggling implies also the 'foreign' and the return 'home' to the communal dwelling places that structure freedom.

Is curating, at root, 'foreign', where the condition of 'foreigner' now belongs to everyone, as the constituent characteristic of the 'many'?

These are a few examples of a surplus of questions that have constantly re-appeared in publication (art journals, talks, conferences, research seminars, etcetera) that denote not merely a circularity of thinking and 'discussing' but a constriction of circles, going from nowhere to a pure and simple collapse of what has been circulated between: the pedagogical theme. The lack of avant-gardes characterised by their romantic-didactic opposition to classicism is the effect of a saturation of doctrines, 1 and argued in the evidence of a kind of service industry or escort experiment for contemporary art. Something like sodden tissue-paper. This is obviously not an 'adequate' enough designation of the potential operations of art since there is no standard that can be applied, whether at a didactic point of inquiry of a truth or to its incarnation embodying truth, art's effects, allegorical or descriptive, are able to be quickly recruited and absorbed by the market. Or is there an energy in defeat (through 'dis-relation') to be reconstituted by the market's double-bind: globalisation and the closure of the avant-garde's romantic-didactic schema?

Can we nominate a new value in the marker of a subversive 'intellectual subject' [the 'multitude' as proposed by Toni Negri] not inured, but liberated in 'curating'?

What do we think curating does and where is the new curriculum?

1 see Alain Badiou, "Handbook of Inaesthetics", [Stanford,California: Stanford University Press 2005] pp9-15