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

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Sat Apr 14 15:24:26 EST 2012

Dear <<empyreans>>, Johannes,

thank you for enlarging the frame of reference. I suggest you might be 
being somewhat literal about institutional roles - a direction Brad 
Brace is gently nudging us in  - since there is also a theatre of 
theatre, addressed in Samuel Weber's concept of theatricality and it was 
to this I was alluding, the processual rather than the professionally 
determinate role of director. I would also like to think that not only 
was and is directorlessness more complicated in collaborative creation, 
experimentation, its necessity for theatre as an artform, but also that 
it was and is never really as simple as director-auteurs (or authors and 
curators, for that matter) holding or occupying autocratic positions. 
Rumours of the death of kings and of queens may tend to be wishful 
thinking but they are also usually exaggerations. And I agree the 
ascendancy of these figures often coincides with what Brad Brace would 
call the bad faith of a neurotic desire to see them cast asunder out of 
self-interest. As representatives of states and institutions in a 
theatrical spectacular.

Wouldn't you say that these roles - museum director, impressario, 
curator, artist, patron, director, intendant, even dramaturg, theorist, 
PR-guy and critic - have a large degree of fluidity? that their share in 
historic narratives and stake in "influence" fluctuates as creativity, 
imagination, necessity, opportunity, altruism and self-interest demand?

It was David Byrne who described Robert Wilson's working method as 
circus-like and you are right of course the final productions of his 
opera as he calls them have a precision and discipline that is quite 
un-circus-like. Or is it? Interesting that the process may appear 
chaotic, crazy free-for-all of collaborative energy, but the work itself 
is austere, scarily controlled and formal: comparing Wilson's furniture 
and his drawings gives a similar impression. The trash-culture aesthetic 
which still has some currency onstage and ingallery seems to operate in 
the opposite direction: highly conceptually formalised to grab-bag of 
throw-away, kitsch, low-camp, pop-culture referencing and pomo self-riffing.

The curatorial impulse doesn't it also outside of institutions have to 
do with choosing collaborators? that is, not just the making, showing, 
recording of work, but the selecting, aligning and rallying of people 
powers and their deployment in space, in (a) specific places(s)? the 
emplacement as well as the connective tissue of communication? (I would 
like to say tactic and strategy.)(Here again, the example of Robert 
Wilson (and Diaghilev, yes), for his foregrounding of this selection, 
emplacement process, not because we "used to talk about curating.")


Simon Taylor


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