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

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Sat Apr 14 15:54:34 EST 2012

How uncanny that you mention Sam Weber since I introduced him for a talk a few hours ago and cited his Introduction to first volume of Glyph where he emphasizes the collaborative powwr of writing.  It is, as you put it, the collaborative theatricality of curation that has fueled my fruitful encounters with the artists whose work I dialogue.  But, of course, this can't happen unless the curator opens him/herself up to the 'touch' or the 'sounding'  of the work.  Might we say that the processual constitutes the very curatorial ground of interaction?  Best, Tim

Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
A. D. White House
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York. 14853
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of simon [swht at clear.net.nz]
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2012 1:24 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] re- Death of the Curator?

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

empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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