[-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options: Globally

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Wed Apr 25 13:12:11 EST 2012

Thanks so much for such a broad and stimulating introductory post, Christiane.  I am particularly interested in your discussion of choices regarding the space of curating and whether or not to bring together contrasting if not disjunctive curatorial worlds.

One of the strongest contrasts you emphasize comes from work within the established museum circuit or more outside of it via the net.  I personally have admired your work with the Whitney, which no doubt has required significant push back against more traditional notions of artistic materials and authority.   I heard tell just the other day of statements made by a curator of another major museum who pretty much drew the line in the sand by declaring that net.art belongs on the net, not in the museum (a line I've heard many times in the past from rather surprising sources).  I think this institutional indifference to curating net.art, something I've done since the late nineties including work with Calin Man, has less to do with analogue anxiety per se than with age old institutional questions of boundaries, control, authority, etc.  I've had numerous exchanges with museum curators who were uncomfortable hosting my net.art projects because of their concern about their lack of control with what users might be doing on the net. Indeed, Renate ran into something very similar just lack week when installing her net.art project, PrivateSecretsPublicLies.net in a museum setting.  Here, use of curatorial space seems directly linked with a certain curatorial posture that often seems to turn as much around rather traditional exercises of authority than experimentations with aesthetics.

What I found fascinating about last week's description of the Apache Project was that the space itself of the curation seemed potentially open to contestation without further clarification of the curatorial project.  But this sees to involve less the issue of curatorial authority than of institutional history and cultural politics (not all mutually exclusive, of course).

Recently, I've found myself returning to the CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA curatorial project I shared with Arthur and Marilouise Kroker and have found myself rededicated to net.art constructed for the network itself and the small screens receiving it.  But as you point out, even patronage of this work entails the kind of institutional framework (in this case, university patronage) that frequently has been the subject of lively critique on this list.

It's interesting that you bring up the 'new aesthetic,' which I've also been following on CRUMB.  This concept seems to me to embrace more of a commitment to a certain kind of pixellated design than an aesthetic definition or ideological aesthetic per se.  I suppose that I find myself less taken by the novelty of this context and don't find that it provides any greater curatorial context than I've found from our conceptual work with CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA or practiced in another context by Turbulence.org, with which I'm now engaged in an archival project.  I think you're really onto something, however, by asking us to reflect on context of online ideas and the crosslinking of ideas.

Looking forward to hearing more of your stimulating thoughts.



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 Christiane_Paul at whitney.org [Christiane_Paul at whitney.org]
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 11:50 PM
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options: Globally

Thanks so much for the introduction, Renate, and hello everyone -- I'm looking forward to our discussion this week.

While I have not been able to actively participate in the exchanges in the past few weeks, I at least managed to lurk and follow them, and I want to start by picking up on some of the previously discussed issues as they relate to spaces of curation and the understanding of curatorial roles.

* spaces of curation
Stating the obvious, curation does not take place in a homogenous space and it seems impossible to assess a state of “curatorial practice” in general because it so radically varies within different spaces. We might encounter a “growing centrality of the curator” and the phenomenon of the star curator, as well as the imposition of curatorial authority and institutional narrative on artistic production, in a fairly hierarchical and centralized institutional art world; and a decentralized, collaborative, “open source” practice in which the curatorial role becomes more diversified in online lacunae or virtual/physical public spaces (e.g. Mother Neff State Park). While these distinctions generally apply, they are of course generalizations and there is blurriness (imposition of curatorial authority could also take place in an exhibition of net art and occasionally does).

Sometimes these different spaces even exist side-by-side within one institution. My curatorial work in the galleries of the Whitney Museum -- such as 'Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools” (http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/CoryArcangel) -- gets attention from The New York Times, The New Yorker etc. My curatorial work on the Whitney's artport site (http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/Artport) -- such as Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki's Twitter visualization “America’s Got No Talent” (http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/Artport/Commissions/AmericasGotNoTalent) or the Sunset/Sunrise series (http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/Artport/Commissions/SunriseSunset) -- involves a very different curatorial process and will be acknowledged only in an online art world. (For various reasons, ranging from institutional support to the interest of audiences).

Whether you make it your goal as a curator to invest your energies into bringing these worlds more closely together is a personal choice. Throughout the last year, in particular, I have sensed a general growing boredom with these unification attempts (at discussions during CAA / ISEA in Istanbul / MediaArtHistories in Liverpool), the general consensus being that “new media” and online art is very alive and kicking, commissioned by festivals, independent organizations, shown online and in public spaces, and often reaching larger audiences and having a greater impact than museum shows. I still believe that it would be great to see the latter works in dialogue with other art forms and to “write” an art history that acknowledges the genealogies of and cross-influences between different forms of media.

* what is “curating”?
Throughout the past couple of years, we have seen many discussions about the inflationary use of the term curating -- on mailing lists and forums and even the NY Times devoted an article to it. The term was applied to everything from curating window displays to “web sites” (by providing links and tags), and everybody seemed to have become a curator. Perhaps this is the most radical (or diluted) expression of the decentralized, collaborative curatorial role. What is missing in tis scenario, however, is the provision of context that seems an essential part of curating.

If you are on the CRUMB list (http://www.crumbweb.org/), you have probably followed the engaged discussions of “The New Aesthetic” (as proposed by James Bridle on the blog of the same name -- http://new-aesthetic.tumblr.com/), which became a meme in the new media world after a panel at SXSW and Bruce Sterling's assessment of it (http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic/#comments; http://www.furtherfield.org/features/banality-new-aesthetic; http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/the-new-aesthetic-needs-to-get-weirder/255838/; http://digitalhumanitiesnow.org/2012/04/editors-choice-new-aesthetic-round-up/).

I do not want to import this discussion into empyre, but I couldn't help wondering if the spread of this meme wasn't a nice example of a lack of badly needed curatorial context. There isn't that much new in the aesthetic or not much of an aesthetic in this new. Creating context for this discussion from a curatorial perspective would have helped.
On a larger scale and along the lines of Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, I'm interested in how the online environment, which seems so deeply contextual by nature, can also obliterate context through the privileging of "the latest post" rather than a dialogue and "deep" crosslinking of ideas.


From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of Renate Ferro [rtf9 at cornell.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 8:54 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: [-empyre-] Welcome to empyre Week 4:Rethinking Curatorial Options:     Globally

Welcome to Calin Man, Arshiiiya Lokhandwala, Jolene Rickard, Beryl
Graham, Elvira Dyangani, and Sarah Cooke to the fourth week of our
discussion on Rethinking Curatorial Options: GLobally.
Each of our guests we  have met and worked with personally.  They all
bring diverse approaches to curating and new media art.  Our emphasis
this week will continue to tease out several questions Tim and I asked
earlier this month that we feel have only begun to be discussed:

"How do curatorial and social considerations impact the cultural,
political, and theoretical reception of artistic practice?  What role
does positioning work within the sanctioned spaces of museums and
galleries or the non-sanctioned public or personal spaces have on both
artistic and curatorial practice? How do global histories, customs,
and politics inform this positioning? What paradoxes or tensions
present themselves when the role of the curator and the artist are
combined?  Finally, how might artistic practice itself be understood
as a curatorial intervention in conceptual art?"

Tim and I are looking forward to our last week of discussion and
really welcome all of our guests and subscribers. Best to all of our
empyre subscribers.  Renate

Calin Man (RO)
b.: 1961; place of residence: Arad, Romania.
education: B.A. in literature, Timisoara University, Romania;
chief-editor and designer of intermedia magazine; member of kinema ikon group.
curator for kinema ikon projects. net.works and digital installations
exhibited at various important new media shows
 (i.e. Venice Biennial, Sao Paulo Biennial, FILE, Centre G. Pompidou,
Contact Zones: The Art of the cd-rom).

Arshiya Lokhandwala (IN)
Arshiya Lokhandwala is an art historian (Ph.D, Cornell University,
USA), Curator (M. A., Goldsmiths College, London) Gallerist, Lakeeren
Art Gallery (1995-2003 and 2009-ongoing) in Mumbai, presenting over 70
exhibitions of the Indian contemporary art. She also curated
Rites/Rights/Rewrites: Women's Video Art that traveled to Cornell,
Duke and Rutgers's Universities from 2003-06. She was also a
participant of the Documenta 11 Education program in Kassel in 2002,
under the artistic curator Okwui Enwezor. She areas of work include
Biennales and Large-scale exhibitions, globalization, feminism,
performance and new media art practices. Her recent curatorial project
has been Against All Odds: A Contemporary Response to the
Historiography of Archiving, Collecting and Museums in India, Lalit
Kala Academy, Delhi January 2011 and Of Gods and Goddesses. Cinema.
Cricket : The New Cultural Icons of India at the Jehangir Art Gallery
in February in 2011. She is the curator of The Rising Phoenix: A
Conversation between Modern and Contemporary Indian Art, Queens
Museum, New York, 2014. She has curated over 75 exhibitions at
Lakeeren and continues her gallery program at Lakeeren along with her
practicing as an independent curator and art historian.

Jolene Rickard ( US, Tuscarora)
Jolene Rickard, Ph.D. is a visual historian, artist, and curator
interested in the issues of Indigeneity within a global context. She
is the Director for the American Indian Program at Cornell University,
an associate professor in the History of Art and Visual Studies and
Art Departments. Recent essays include “Visualizing Sovereignty in the
Time of Biometric Sensors,” in The South Atlantic Quarterly:
Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and the Law, 110:2, Spring 2011, “Skin Seven
Spans Thick,” in Hide: Skin as Material and Metaphor, NMAI: DC, 2010,
“Absorbing or Obscuring the Absence of a Critical Space in the
Americas for Indigeneity: The Smithsonian's National Museum of the
American Indian,” in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 52, Autumn,
2007, and Rebecca Belmore: Fountain by Jolene Rickard and Jessica
Bradley, Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery and Kamloops Art Gallery,
Canada, 2005.

Recent projects include; Consultant to the National Gallery of
Canadian Art in preparation for an international survey of Indigenous
art in 2013, also identified as the first Quinquennial (Ottawa), a
participant in the Cornell/Duke 54th Venice Biennale Dialogue (Italy)
2011 and she was a co-curator for the inaugural exhibition for the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (Washington,
D.C.) 2004.

Jolene is from the Tuscarora Nation territories in western New York.

Beryl Graham (UK)
Beryl Graham is Professor of New Media Art at the School of Arts,
Design and Media, University of Sunderland, and co-editor of CRUMB.
She is a writer, curator and educator with many years of professional
experience as a media arts organiser, and was head of the photography
department at Projects UK, Newcastle, for six years. She curated the
international exhibition Serious Games for the Laing and Barbican art
galleries, and has also worked with The Exploratorium, San Francisco,
and San Francisco Camerawork.

Her book Digital Media Art was published by Heinemann in 2003, and she
coauthored with Sarah Cook the book Rethinking Curating: Art After New
Media for MIT Press in 2010. She has chapters in many books including
New Media in the White Cube and Beyond (University of California
Press), Theorizing digital cultural heritage (MIT Press) and The
'Do-It-Yourself' Artwork (Manchester University Press). Dr. Graham has
presented papers at conferences including Navigating Intelligence
(Banff), Museums and the Web (Vancouver), and Decoding the Digital
(Victoria and Albert Museum). Her Ph.D. concerned audience
relationships with interactive art in gallery settings, and she has
written widely on the subject for books and periodicals including
Leonardo, Convergence, and Art Monthly.

Elvira Dyangani Ose (Spain/Guinea Equatoria)
Elvira Dyangani Ose (1974, Spain / Guinea Equatorial) is Curator,
International Art at Tate Modern, supported by Guaranty Trust Bank
Plc. She is an art and architecture historian, currently completing a
PhD in History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University, New
York. She is as well Artistic Director of Picha Reencounters 2012, the
third edition of the Lubumbashi Biennial. As an independent curator,
she has developed different interdisciplinary projects, focusing on
recovering collective memories, urban ethnography, and artists’ role
in the process of history-making. Her most significant projects are:
Olvida Quién Soy/Erase Me from Who I am,  Africalls?,  Nontsikelelo
Veleko/Welcome to Paradise, and Carrie Mae Weems: Social Studies.
Elvira Dyangani Ose  has worked as curator in several institutions in
Spain. She was general curator of Arte inVisible, AECID, in 2009 and

Sarah Cooke (UK)
Sarah Cook is a curator and writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
and co-author (with Beryl Graham) of the book Rethinking Curating: Art
After New Media (MIT Press, 2010) and co-editor (with Sara Diamond) of
Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Institute Dialogues. She is
currently a Reader at the University of Sunderland where she
co-founded and co-edits CRUMB, the online resource for curators of new
media art and teaches on the MA Curating course. She is a member of
the advisory board of the Journal of Curatorial Studies and co-chaired
Rewire, the Fourth International Conference on the histories of media
art, science and technology with FACT in Liverpool (2011).

Having grown up in Canada, Sarah has a longstanding association with
The Banff Center where she has worked as a guest curator and
researcher in residence for the Walter Phillips Gallery, the
International Curatorial Institute and the New Media Institute,
developing exhibitions, summits, residencies and publications. After
completing her PhD in 2004, Sarah worked as adjunct curator of new
media at BALTIC  Centre for Contemporary Art funded by the AHRC. In
2008 Sarah was the inaugural curatorial fellow at Eyebeam Art and
Technology Center in New York, where she worked with the artists in
the labs to develop exhibitions of their work. Sarah has curated and
co-curated international exhibitions including Database Imaginary
(2004), The Art Formerly Known As New Media (2005), Broadcast Yourself
(2008), Untethered (2008) and Mirror Neurons (2012).

Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
Cornell University
Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office #420
Ithaca, NY  14853
Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net

Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
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