[-empyre-] "Death of the Curator"

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 16:40:43 EST 2012

Dear Renate,
Thank you for the invitation to join this discussion.

I have attached here the PDF of an essay I had written about
artists-as-curators. It was published in the now defunct ART LIES
journal in their "Death of the Curator" issue in 2009 and then
reprinted in TAKE ON ART in India in 2011.

Some of this now feels quite dated, but hopefully some of it can still
be relevant to our discussion.

This was a key portion for me:

"This is when I started to wonder if artist-as-curator was always a
healthy construct. Being that close to the decisionmaking process,
seeing up close all the calculations and permutations and equations: I
worried that it would make me too conscious about my own work. Instead
of messing around, you start to walk in a straight line.

Of course, no one is living in a hermetic bubble where they have no
idea how decisions are made. It’s about the work, it’s about the
budget, it’s about the mandate, it’s about the theme, it’s about the
recommendation. Sometimes it’s also about the check box, and when you
are in an identifiable race/nation subgenre, navigating that is a
challenge. But to become overly conscious of this process is damaging
to the isolation and headspace that is needed when dreaming up worlds
and ideas for one’s own work.

A friend sounded a contrarian note in an email: “Well, I don’t think
becoming self-conscious about my own work is an unhealthy thing. The
agenda for me as an artist is organizing, having a larger
conversation, a research activity.” So this is not a cautionary tale
after all. There are many possible outcomes, no need to lament."

Hope people will get a chance to read the full attachment and then we
can get the discussion going?

in solidarity,
Naeem Mohaiemen


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