¿Qué pasó con el curador experto?Publicado: agosto 24, 2013
“El curador era una figura de autoridad intelectual, de carácter probablemente masculino, elegantemente vestido y supuestamente bien informado sobre el contexto de procedencia, significado y cultural de los objetos que cautivan su interés (…) Lo que antes era una práctica experta se ha democratizado (…) este cambio en la actividad curatorial se encuentra “en línea con el cambio que lleva de expertos a aficionados, de guardianes a la amplia participación pública”
¿What happened to the expert curator?
In a world where we can ‘curate’ our Whole Foods basket, asks Daniel Blight, what cultural currency does curation now hold?
It is often said that the British Museum is the oldest national public museum in the world. Founded in the second half of the 18th century, it was a place open to all “studious and curious persons”, but managed by those who came exclusively from the echelons of high society: the elite, the wealthy and the learned. Only after offering your credentials at the ticket office did you receive a pass to enter the displays, perhaps some two weeks later.
The curator in those days was a figure of intellectual authority, most likely male, smartly dressed and supposedly knowledgeable about the provenance, meaning and cultural context from which the objects he cared for came. This period established the public museum as an institution with values apparently tied to rationality and objectivity, though more realistically packaged in a certain kind of patronising, supercilious world order.
Back in the present day, what was previously an expert practice has democratised. As academic and curator Peter Ride sees it, this change in curatorial activity sits “in line with the whole shift from expert to amateur, from having gatekeepers to public participation”. The very structure of knowledge and the institutions in which curators mainly operate are now being questioned. In fact, they have been since the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century – artists were the first to realise that their ideas didn’t always align with those of the curator.
A space has now opened up – both physically and online – where anyone can give curating a go. If you are part of culture, then you are qualified to contribute to the arrangement of its artefacts. The practice of curating now occupies museums, public and commercial galleries, project spaces and, of course, the internet.
Within these contexts, the act of arranging objects, images or sounds into an order that may or may not have meaning has proliferated throughout the creative and cultural industries. The curator is now a producer: you might curate your Flickr feed, your mates playing records at a bar or festival or an exhibition in your own apartment – a trend showcased by the Serpentine Gallery‘s co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, a master orator of what he calls a “global dialogue… in space and time”.
While the practice of curating within cultural institutions may have changed, the elitism and sense of privileged access remains – abundantly. Even now, you can walk into a museum or gallery and be overwhelmed with the feeling of being in a place where meaning is inaccessible to the layperson, other than through spaces specifically created for audience participation.
Knowledge is dictated, encased, framed and vitrined-off to be accessed only by those in the know. Institutions seem to own our collective history and culture, but shouldn’t they (and their meaning) really belong to us?
What, then, if we’re looking in the wrong place for qualified, ground-breaking curators? Perhaps they are no longer in museums, galleries or cultural institutions, but instead in front of a screen – sociable and connected. Curating in the age of the internet is the act of responding to social and technological developments: their usability, instability and the various networks of communication in which they are presented online.
As Ride says: “All the factors that make the internet such a powerful force socially and economically make it also challenging and exciting in the arts. Dealing with networks means that nothing is stable, everything is constantly moving in response to massive amounts of data … so internet artwork is always part of that environment and often reflects on it.”
With an admirable and relentless sense of humour, New York based artist Brad Troemel produces his own artwork and also curates in galleries and on the internet, both independently and collectively. His co-produced Tumblr site Jogging – open to all, not simply artists – is one of the most visited sites across the entire Tumblr network. It’s become a vast platform for images that take on a currency not necessarily determined by the niche circles of arts culture. Instead it turns to engage popular culture, late capitalist society and, let’s face it, pretty good visual puns and gags.
One way in which this kind of online activity might be described, ‘digitalcurating’, is a relatively meaningless term according to Troemel, “broadly accounting for any act where a person organises visual content on the internet in a way that creates meaning through the differences and similarities of their collected images”.
Troemel believes that “curating is now linguistically deluded beyond the point of return to an artistic context – Whole Foods encourages you to ‘curate’ your own selection of organic produce, for instance – and similarly because the methodology of curating is no longer one associated with any specific cultural figure or type of content.”
In this, we return to the movement from expert to amateur. The sheer quantity of material being collected and curated on the internet, and indeed the rate at which this activity can represent culture and form social networks, is staggering. Institutionalised curators are, along with the institutions themselves, being left woefully behind.
In fact, their attempt to keep up may soon become their authorial downfall: people are creating meaning themselves – online, inside, outside and in rings around the snail-paced bureaucracy that has come to characterise most cultural institutions.
The question for curators to ask themselves now, especially those within the public arts sector, may be: how can we attract wider audiences and create meaning within a structure that cannot adequately and quickly respond to the pace of networked culture?
Whatever our response to this, one thing is abundantly clear – we cannot do it by bandwagoning internet art, nor will it be helped along bythe ostentatious character of the curator in itself.. The cultural institution, tied in the UK to the wider governmental logic of the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, may need to shift its priorities structurally and ideologically. In times where money is harder to come by and people’s access and thirst for knowledge is more readily satisfied via the internet, curators need to play a much more transparent and far less haughty game if they are to stay ahead.
publicado por The Guardian
Puntos y preguntas relacionadas con la recientemente completada investigación #OpenCurating, para lo cual se realizaron 10 entrevistas a comisarios, artistas, editores, expertos en web y archivistas sobre los desafíos, expectativas, y las nuevas posibilidades que la cultura digital y los medios sociales presentan a las instituciones de arte contemporáneo. >> http://www.lttds.org/projects/opencurating/