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Do curators need university curatorial programs?

Moser, Gabrielle (2008) Do curators need university curatorial programs? C Magazine (100). pp. 27-32. ISSN 1193-8625

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Abstract

How possible is it to train curators when their work is not exclusively based on craft? WhUe defining what an artist does is always tricky, we can mosdy agree that artists create artworks: they produce objects or experiences that are in some way distinct from commodities produced in the mass market. Pinning down what a curator does, though, is more complicated. Aside from exhibitions and the occasional catalogue, there are few tangible finished products that result from a curator's practice. The type of activities that can be classified as "curatorial" are also increasingly diverse. Organizing and mounting exhibitions, writing and publishing critical essays, programming screenings and performances, coordinating fundraisers, conducting studio visits and even speaking in public about their work and lobbying for changes in cultural policy are now all considered within the purview of a curatorial position. The Power Plant's Helena Reckitt says this diversification results from the boom in public interest in contemporary art that has occurred worldwide over the past 2$ years, which has prompted many contemporary galleries to emphasize authence interaction and participation, and adopt Kunsthalle-style institutional models that do not have a perma- nent coUection. As the Power Plant's senior cu- rator of programs, Reckitt works on all aspects of the gaUery's programs: from developing ex- hibitions and artists' projects, to devising talks, education series, film screenings and perform- ances, and co-editing the gallery's new con- temporary art magazine. In her words, "It's a broad job description that reflects the diversity of skills demanded by curatorial work today."2 This uncertainty about what it is to practice as a curator is not only reflected in the profession- al curator's ever-expanding job description, but is also evident in the wide array of pedagogical tools used by Toronto's university programs to try and teach the profession of curation. Clement Greenberg's claims not only ignore the ways economic and social capital influence an arts worker's access to jobs in arts organizations, but they abo overlook the fact that access to education continues to be crucial to gaining any kind of access to the art world.11 Despite the obvious nearsightedness of Greenberg's claims, the notion that curators should play professional roles in museums and galleries as mediators between art and its public has stuck. In fact, in Toronto the notion of the curator as professional has had a renaissance over the past five years thanks to the adoption of Richard Florida's theories about the importance of the Creative Class' contribution to the city's economy. Not only have Florida's ideas been taken up in public discussions about the future of Toronto's cultural landscape, but they have also been explicitly cited in the City's Cultural Renaissance program. Adopted in 2003, this program provided financial support to eight major cultural construction projects, including now-completed renovations at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art GaUery of Ontario and ocad.12 Although these buddings have architectural importance, political scientist Barbara Jenkins argues that they are "better understood as both participants in, and reflections of, contemporary patterns of global economic competition and the changing role of culture in capitalist production."13

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Academic degrees, Art exhibits, Curators, Fine arts
Divisions: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2016 15:14
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2017 19:27
URI: http://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/1145

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