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Interpretation, aesthetics, and audience are three major currents at play in the field of Art. Visual Art is a human activity and thus a cultural production, showing the work to a public or engaging a specific audience is one goal of art making. Because showing work dominates the field, curatorial subjects maintain a significant role in the artistic process, i.e. considering a viewer.
In recent years, the field has witnessed exhibitions and gallery shows curated by unlikely practitioners, e.g. architects, educators, historians, commercial photographers, graphic designers, and scientists. Historically, curators of art have been art collectors, art historians, art critics, arts administrators, and artists, today we see many areas heretofore uninvolved, stepping into exhibition management and curatorial practices. Focuses on interdisciplinarity, diverse perspectives, the dialogic / alternative / emergent praxis, have opened the flood gates for new ideas that link art to life. On The Curatorial, Maria Lind writes, "Is there something we could call the curatorial? A way of linking objects, images, processes, people, locations, histories, and discourses in physical space? An endeavor that encourages you to start from the artwork but not stay there, to think with it but also away from and against it."
Curatorial strategies are no longer limited to art historians and art administrators, the field has opened its doors to anyone with critical ideas and messages in the experience economy. Art educators have produced amazing shows that speak to art practices that involve youth and community in exciting new ways. Below you find an example of an academic program that focuses on the curatorial. These programs are wide-spread throughout the world and have changed the face of exhibitions.
As contemporary art practice evolves, the role of the curator is shifting. Ideas about the relationships among art, exhibition spaces, and audiences are changing, and the way that art institutions are structured and administered is becoming more complex.
The first of its kind on the West Coast, the Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice offers an expanded perspective on curating contemporary art and culture. The program seeks to extend the current European and North American academic focus on traditional museum and gallery exhibitions, exploring the impact of artist-led initiatives and other efforts that take place outside conventional venues.
Reflecting San Francisco's geographic location and cultural histories, the MA in Curatorial Practice degree also emphasizes curatorial and art practices in Asia and Latin America. Providing an international perspective with professional development at its core, the program prepares students for careers in museums and galleries, public art, project management, and publishing.
The choice of the term "practice," rather than "studies," was deliberate. The program provides a rigorous practical training alongside scholarly research. While using the San Francisco Bay Area as an incubator, visiting lecturers and intensive research trips serve as a conduit for the exchange of ideas among students, curators, artists, critics, and scholars from around the world.
Central to the philosophy of the Curatorial Practice Program is the development of the curriculum with faculty who are active professionals, involving some of the leading practitioners in the field today. In this way, students learn first-hand about the considerations that are influencing professional decision-making and current curatorial strategies.
Core faculty includes curators and art professionals from museums and galleries in the region, as well as CCA's Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. A Curatorial Practice studio provides a base for students in the program to meet with visiting professors and arrange informal discussions, as well as housing the Curatorial Practice archive.
Curatorial Practice Masters Degree at California College of the Arts
Independent Curators International (ICA)
3 Recent Texts:
Carolee Thea: On Curating: Interviews With Ten International Curators (2009)
Lucy Lippard, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Walter Hopps, and Pontus Hulten: A Brief History of Curating (2009)
Brian O'Doherty: Studio and the Cube: On the Relationship Between Where Art is Made and Where Art is Displayed (2008)
This is an expanding list of materials that provide discussions on aspects of contemporary culture, curatorship and critical practice.
Arjun Appadurai: Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (1996)
Meta Bauer: Education, Information, Entertainment: Current Approaches on Higher Artistic Education (2001)
Tony Bennett: The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics (1995)
Pierre Bourdieu: Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1986/2002)
Nicholas Bourriaud: Relational Aesthetics (2002)
Nicholas Bourriaud: Postproduction (2002)
Mikita Brottman: High Theory / Low Culture (2005)
Michel de Certeau: The Practice of Everyday Life (1984)
Alex Coles: Site-specificity: The Ethnographic Turn (1984)
Anthony Cronin: Art for the People? (1988)
Claire Doherty: Contemporary Art: From Studio to Situation (2004)
Carol Duncan: Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums (1995)
Stephen Duncombe: The Cultural Resistance Reader (2002)
Stephen Duncombe: Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture (1997)
AlexFarquhason: I Curate, You Curate Art Monthly Vol.269, September, pp. 7-10 (2003)
Liam Gillick, and Maria Lind: Curating with Light Luggage (2005)
Reese Greenberg: Thinking About Exhibitions (1996)
Mika Hannula: Stopping the Process: Contemporary Views on Art and Exhibitions (1998)
Anna Harding: Curating the Contemporary Art Museum and Beyond, Art and Design Profile No.52 (1997)
Dave Hickey: Air Guitar Essays on Art and Democracy (1997)
Susan Hill: The Producers: Contemporary Curators in Conversation (2000-2001)
Grant H. Kester: Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (2004)
Grant H. Kester: Rhetorical Questions: The Alternative Arts Sector and the Imaginary (1998)
Grant H. Kester, Richard Bolton, Coco Fusco: Public Art, Activism, and Oppositionality: Essays From After-Image (1998)
Miwon Kwon: One Place After Another: Site-specific Art and Locational Identity (2002)
Maria Lind & Raimund Minichbauer: Future of Public Funding for Contemporary Art in Europe (2005)
Sharon Macdonald: The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture (1997)
Manifesta Journal: Journal of Contemporary Curating (2003)
Malcolm Miles: Art, Space and the City: Public art and Urban Futures (1997)
Nina Möntmann: Art and its Institutions: Current conflicts, Critique and Collaborations (2006)
Vanessa Joan Müller & Nicholas Schafahusen: On Construction Perspectives of Institutional Practice (2006)
Brian O'Doherty: Inside The White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (1986)
Paul O’Neill: Curating U-Topics: Art Monthly, Vol. 272, Jan., pp.7-10 (2004)
Paul O’Neill: Curating Subjects, London: Open Editions (2007)
Andres C. Papadakis: New Museology: Art and Design Profile (1991)
Martha Rosler: Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings 1975-2001 (2004)
Katya Sander & Simon Shekh: We Are All Normal (2001)
Karsten Schubert: The Curator's Egg: The evolution of the museum concept French Revolution-present day (2002)
Moira G. Simpson: Making Representations: Museums in the Post-Colonial Era (1996)
Mary Staniszewski: The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at MOMA (1998)
Christoph Tannert & Tischler Ute: Men In Black: Handbook of Curatorial Practice (2004)
Timothy Van Laar & Leonard Diepeveen: Active Sights: Art as Social Intervention (1998)
Jan Verwoert: Confessions of the Global Urbanist, Afterall, Vol. 9, pp.47-56. (2004)
Gavin Wade: Curating in the 21st Century. Walsall : New Art Gallery (2000)
Raymond Williams: Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1983)
Chin-Tao Wu: Privatising Culture: Corporate Art Intervention Since the 1980 (2002)
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