Can/Should Anyone Curate an Art Exhibition?
Director, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
"Curating" just as a word has changed in our culture. On the positive side, people no longer look at the word curator and wonder "what is that?". Not that long ago, curating wasn't recognized as an activity, an everyday experience that really, at its core, is about selecting. The world is incredibly big, there are a ton of ideas, there are billions of objects produced. We're overwhelmed by choices, and we look to people to help us make those selections in a intelligent manner.
The downside of the word being released into some kind of "common use" is that the decrease in professionalism. Sure we're all engineers because we all use equipment and make things go. Everyone became a poet because they could rhyme two words. The internet is doing this as much as everything, but in true curating there are guidelines, rules, and a sense of professionalism that have all been loosened up. But we'll survive. It's why institutions exist. It's why there are things like job descriptions and levels of education and experience required to get jobs at these institutions ... Curating artwork is extremely important, it defines who we are as a museum, and our curators do everything from write large grant applications for future exhibitions (that can be two years away), to coming up with ideas, to driving funding, looking for support, helping to install shows, coordinating the shipping of the work .. it's so much more than putting a nail in the wall.
Freelance Art Critic, Phoenix New Times
Just as most people are incapable of making great art, most people are not great curators of art. A curator is required to have a keen sense of vision and insight when it comes to mounting an exhibition, whether of new work or older work.
To me, a curator is pounding the pavement all the time to find artists working in ways sufficiently different to separate them from the pack and pushing to present them to the public. A good curator also is able to present art from any era in completely new contexts - ways in which we haven't seen the work presented before. He or she is also able to qualitatively select the best work of a particular artist to exhibit, not giving in to pressure from any artist or institution with regard to what work should or should not be included. Giving an exhibition for your artist friends or recycling work from a museum's permanent collection without giving that work a whole new cast does not rate as curation, to me.
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