[-empyre-] re- Death of the Curator?

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Apr 13 23:25:53 EST 2012

hello Simon

thx; I was only responding to the questions raised about text/literature being part of the dicsussion on curating, and mentioned the somewhat unusual idea
of developing/turning a literary essay into a collaborative intermedia online project where the contributors are, so to speak, taking part in a group show
without that the paramedial elements, that might emerge, are directed.

With Wilson, and theatre in general, that issue of directorlessness is more complicated, and as they say in England, "devised theatre" sought to get around
the autocratic positions that director-auteurs once had, and Bob Wilson is not a bad example of the auteur performance theatre, yes.  I enjoyed his early work.
I think they are revisiting (for his 70th birthday) the "Einstein on the Beach"  collabioration; it is scheduled to be done in London in May. I don't think in Wilson's productions there was
circus. It was all quite carefully precisioned, as far as i can remember, and yes, "the CIVIL warS" was an international co-production; in the theatre
we never used to talk about curating.

The decline of the director-auteur in theatre happened at the time when the curator-auteur began to appear, which may be a historical coincidence,
yet impressarios always existed (Diaghilev), and their influence on marketing a brand (a ballet company, a theatre company, a director's work)
was probably very significant ( i.e. the role of the Intendant in German state subsidized theatre institutions). 

Museum directors probably have had an equally powerful but vastly more influential position in the history of art and the canonization of modern art 
and the development of collections and archives; the same, I guess, might be true with patrons; I saw that books are now published on the role
of patrons and "their museums" (e.g. museum founder Dominique de Menil in Houston; see "Art and Activism: Projects of John and Dominique de Menil 
New Haven: Yale UP, 2010), etc. 

But the role of curator is far from dead, i also see no reason for it to be fundamentally questioned, on the contrary, the rise of a younger or different generation
of curators working/behaving as conceptual artists (simultaneously the more frequent occurrence of museums inviting artists to act as curators
of their holdings to suggest new kinds of mise en scène for work from the collections) offered many stimulating projects, generated debate, fruitful
dialogue and some resistances perhaps too, which is all good, and I am thinking of some of the folks that I heard about or whose shows i saw,
Carlos Basualdo, Okwui Enwezor, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Rajendra Roy, Catherine Morris, Hao Sheng, Peter Taub, Rosa Martínez, and so on, well, maybe some of them worked
for high profile museums or art shows, and then there are of course many more, some on this list, who work for independent arts organizations and whose
work is probably even more significant in the manner in which they fostered emerging artists or helped non-mainstream/uncategorizable art to be shown, or helped to
build "alternate" archives.  

I wonder how one can assess and evaluate historically or politicize these alternate strands, since, to my knowledge, especially regarding "new media arts" the
issue of how you collect video and installation works and interactive or net.art projects is surely a vital issue for the future, probably to be addressed in this debate*, since
the role of people like Christiane Paul, and not to forget  John G. Hanhardt, or the curators in New York at the Kitchen back then, or Harvestworks
(we mustn't forget the role of curating for sound art), or in many other places in the world where also media art was "curated" and developed through
workshops and residencies (STEIM, de Waag in Amsterdam, the V2 Festival in Rotterdam, IRCAM, and so many places) is remarkable. Other venues/organizations
– closer to performance-media also – like Digital Dance (Essex) or ZKM, or YCAM in Yamaguchi, they offer vital roles in commissioning new work and also helping (through residencies)
to develop such work.

R&D:  Development also needs curatorship, support infrastructures, networks, and of course funding, and bottom-up DIY and DIWO "protocols."  Curating digital art
requires techniques and expertise; all the death pronunciations are premature, resurrection is always needed. 

with regards

Johannes Birringer

*(an earlier book I remember is:  Adilkno, Media Archive,  Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1998)

Simon schreibt:
respectfully, isn't what you are talking about in regard to Kafka's
Wound as

"where the paratextual or paramedial dimensions can emerge"

simply theatre?

and isn't the Death of the Curator a repetition of the death of the
director, from about the '80s - it is particularly German theatre I am
thinking of, the generation of Peter Stein - ?
and in cinema in the '90s the bruited about "death of the auteur"?
In theatre it seems to me that the post-interpretative director, Robert
Wilson, epitomises a curatorial attitude/method when he becomes the
ring-master for the circus of collaborators and collaboration going on
around him, witness his work with the two Heiners, Mueller and Goebbels,
about whom there is something mismatched and yet apropos, or the great
failed project The Civil Wars - an internationally curated theatre work.

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