[-empyre-] "Death of the Curator"

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Fri Apr 13 02:45:03 EST 2012

Dear Aram

I am always supportive of we artists being able to sustain ourselves,
whether through grants, fees, sales, or teaching. If you read into my
"coed dance" essay a naive "i don't want anything to do with the world
of practicality" sentiment, it's a 180 deg misreading. I was
specifically talking about the harm being from standing too close to
the curating process, and it's distortion impact on the creative
process. If you read the whole essay, you'll see I also end with an
optimistic example of where it is possible to do so as well.

I also was not suggesting that an artist retreat into studio and
disconnect from the world. My concern is about protecting and
nurturing the creative time, which includes extended periods of
isolation and quiet. I like what Nicholas Carr talks about in THE
SHALLOWS, and think of the example of disconnecting for a period from
the net in order to imagine without excess stimuli.

As for, Hirst– a cartoon, not a discussion peg. :-D

To quote Julian Spalding:
"Damien Hirsts are the sub-prime of the art world"


On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM, Aram Bartholl <bartholl at datenform.de> wrote:
> thx johannes! sorry for not responding much here. just arrived in nyc
> yesterday night. (preparing for my booklaunch
> http://eyebeam.org/events/book-launch-aram-bartholls-the-speed-book and
> 7on7 http://rhizome.org/sevenonseven/ )
> reagarding your essay @naeem i think artists today - especially all the
> famous ones - do know and need to know exactly whats their position and
> context in the field, they need to know the numbers, the business side
> and everything. in fact you need to be a real entrepreneur to play the
> game i believe. and all the hirsts and koons etc are for sure. the
> cliche of the artist in his studio retreat not knowing what s going on
> seems a bit outdated to me...
> the tough side being involved in the curatorial process is to me that i
> have to deal with all these (spoiled) arists ;) it is fun to make a
> selection for a show but it then it s hard work to produce it (and to
> deal with your artist friends) this is a good reason for me to
> concentrate on the making art side (and not getting into trouble with my
> friends ;)
> have a great day everyone!
> Am 11.4.12 11:13, schrieb Johannes Birringer:
> >
> > dear all
> >
> >
> > thanks for the provocative readings and viewings provided over the past days,
> > (I am listening to Brad Troemel's "Art after Social Media"), Aram, thx for the many links.
> > Also am trying to catch up reading the text ["Las Grietas"] you linked us to , Pedro,  thx!
> >
> > and I wanted to ask Naeem to talk about the photograph chosen in the front of his essay on "At the co-ed dance" -- i attach it for those who have not read it....
> >
> > Naeem Mohaiemen schreibt:
> >>>
> > 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.
> >>>
> >
> > I enjoyed reading this piece a lot,  and was sorry to learn "Artlies" is not alive anymore, I remember writing for it when it got started
> > in Houston some years ago in the 90s, an independent organ of criticism run by a collective (of writers and artists, no curators allowed though) if I remember correctly,
> > laid out and pasted together on John Bryant's computer in the attic.
> >
> > Brian's long post and critical reflection on decision-making processes (underlying curating?) and organizing under "the governmentality of neoliberalism" was most insightful, I felt, and deserves much more
> > discussion, if we were to look at the compromises (and roles as "accomplices") Ana pointed to, especially under the conditions of the market described by Brian,  and I wonder, if I could ask Aram this question, whether the conditions are the same or somewhat different - for social networks, online galleries, YouTube, etc and temporary "speedshows" ?  very And if they are unchanged, and particularly timely for the digital/networked platforms, then how can distributed curating become like a tactical media?  very fast and very ephemeral before co-opted, to be re-hyped (it started at the beforementioned documenta X, with the splendid installation of "The Hybrid Workspace  temporary media lab" , for 100 days,  -- so one might think the museum had already co-opted you before you even had started)....?
> >
> > Naeem's implicit self-questioning is something can surely be addressed, from the many experiences people on this list have,
> > -- when you say "I started to wonder if artist-as-curator was always a healthy construct"  (not really),  I assumed you meant the inevitable
> > complications that might arise when artist-run galleries or shows remain "hermetic"  (inviting friends and themselves) or self-serving
> > before they, possibly, create interesting cracks in the mirror that make the very messiness and spontaneity you describe interesting to be coopted
> > by museum and academic institutions or larger public venues like Kunsthallen etc. I wonder whether some progressive municipalities were run like that
> > or imagined themselves like that (Amsterdam?). The idea (harking back to last month's debate) of the cit as curator interests me a lot, with some of the implications of "caring" , "curing" and "being curious" that
> > have been raised here.
> >
> > Were it not for the photograph, Naeem, that keeps haunting us.
> >
> > And what is the role of private capital?  Can it, in some cases, provide a certain "autonomy" allowing the forging of exhibitions that could
> > not happen in public institutions or museums governed by boards of directors/collectors and friends?  In Houston, for example, the Station Museum (run
> > by James Harithas) has kept putting on what one might call political exhibitions which no one else would touch or dream of doing, and it must
> > take a certain financial independence to be able to sustain that.
> >
> > Lastly, I wish we'd not leave the first week entries, for example the questions raised by , and returned to, Jennifer and Jim about mass orchestrations
> > of urban festivals or spectacles un-scrutinized.  There was so much claimed for "artists produc[ing] large-scale performances and interventions that engage, critique and reconceptualize the urban context"
> > which we have not questioned at all here, for example in connection to tourism industry and civic/city policy or economic interests participating in urban spectacles and fostering
> > the illusions of art concerts/rock concerts being a 'counter-movement" and leaving audiences to have or influence choices of/for (collective) curating...
> >
> > is there such a thing as "collectice curating", and what would it be?
> >
> > In the town where I was born, the local merchants and businesswomen and men  (Mittelstandsbetriebe) put on a show every year, for the masses to enjoy.
> > They also get the streets blocked off, for sure.
> >
> >
> > respectfully
> >
> > Johannes Birringer
> > dap-lab
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> --
> ____________________
> Aram Bartholl
> Ackerstr. 38
> 10115 Berlin
> landline: +493060980161
> mobile: +491791036178
> skype: agoasi
> bartholl at datenform.de
> www.datenform.de
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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