“The Art of Curating”

“IF THE FIRST DECADE of the second millennium will be remembered for the rise of the art fair, the decade before should definitely be remembered as the decade of biennials and, implicitly, the decade of curating.”

I found this quote at the beginning of an online article from the digital webpage for the  Calarts School of Critical Studies. In this article the author, Nicola Trezzi, makes the argument that “the era of curators demands that we redefine the practice of curating as an art in its own right, with its own structure and language.”  She furthers the assertion by also claiming that individuals graduating with a degree in Art History are perhaps the least qualified candidates for this “young science.” To support herself, Trezzi discusses how the educational process for art historians has deeply rooted them in a temporal rather than spatial perception of art. It is for this reason, she suggests, that some of the most successful curators (i.e. Jens Hoffmann, Francesco Bonami) have risen out of other disciplines (i.e. stage directing, set design, cultural sociology). Today, it is not enough to organize a collection (specifically, an art collection) based on the basic information of each selected piece. In order for the curation process to be considered successful, the curator must visually create an extension of the artist’s practice.

As I read this article I could not help but apply Trezzi’s insight to the website I used for my individual presentation. Upon revisiting the online version of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology I considered how the effectiveness of the archive would be influenced if it only organized the collections temporally. Although this particular aspect of the site is useful for the purposes of narrowing down the search for a particular garment from a particular time, if it was the only form of organization for the archive, I think I would have completely lost interest in the midst of my research.  Fortunately, the digital presentations of specific exhibits at FIT managed to pick up the slack that this temporal method of organization imposed on the site. In complete contrast, these exhibitions portrayed the spatial or “successful” approach to curating as discussed in Trezzi’s article. The presentation of “Gothic Glamour” in the windows of haunted houses, behind the iron gates of a cemetery, or laying in the bed of a coffin are supportive examples of exactly what Trezzi’s article meant in regards to the extension of the artistic practice.

 

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