“The true art of a curator is an art of compromise.” No doubt Pierre Restany's bon mot reflects the reality of curatorial practice. Curators are dealing with different and often alien interests—political, economic and social. In realizing their oeuvre, they must always satisfy the requests of politicians, sponsors, managers, artists, professionals and large audiences. What are the limitations of this art of compromise? Does an art of compromise also presume a consciousness of what should not be a matter of compromise? These are among the many questions that lay at the ground of Manifesta Journal 12 on curatorial ethics; these questions ultimately also try to examine whether ethics is a secondary consideration for curatorial work, or inextricable from the process and as such a consistent part of the curator’s intellectual self. Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, in the Discourse section, takes his point of departure from Simon Critchley’s position on ethics, which claims action in order not to limit itself to mere discourse. Accordingly, the curator’s job is an ethical one which is shaped by a multiple commitment towards the institution, the artwork and the public. In the Positions section Dieter Roelstraete questions if curatorial ethics as such exists, and whether it’s not a questions of doing it. He argues that all curating should be ethical: it should be caring about the stranger. Thomas Wulffen writes a personal account of his withdrawal from curating, and Søren Andreasen and Lars Bang Larsen speculate on the concept of mediation as a condition of today’s curating. A group of curators (Magali Arriola, Francesco Manacorda, Gerardo Mosquera, Mark Nash, Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Kathrin Rhomberg) has been invited to contribute with brief statements defining their position of curatorial ethics. In dialogue with Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, Simon Critchley further delves into the relation of ethics to the arts and the ethical responsibility of curators for action. Further in the Dialogue section, a conversation between Pier Luigi Sacco and Angela Vettese focuses on the complex relations between art and economy, and Zoran Erić interviews Maria Rus Bojan and Ami Barak, who curated this year’s Venice Biennial Romanian Pavilion, about the ethics in artist-curator collaboration, the professional ethics of curators and their responsibilities. Jan Verwoert questions in the Variations section if there is something like a codex for con-artists, cultural producers, writers, and curators, or if this should just be just called the ethics of disappointment. In the Practice section, Katerina Gregos describes the many tasks curating requests beyond display and interpretation of art which often end up in strategic choices in pursuit of political and aesthetic correctness, and clientelism. She argues for a concentration on art and the visual and a thorough research, which seems to get more and more lost in today’s curating. MJ #12 is the final issue of the second Manifesta Journal series.
The issue includes contributions by Søren Andreasen, Magali Arriola, Ami Barak, Lorenzo Benedetti, Simon Critchley, Zoran Erić, Jonathan Griffin, Katerina Gregos, Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, Lars Bang Larsen, Francesco Manacorda, Gerardo Mosquera, Mark Nash, Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Alessandra Pioselli, Kathrin Rhomberg, Dieter Roelstraete, Maria Rus Bojan, Pier Luigi Sacco, Marjolein Schaap, Jonas Staal, Jan Verwoert, Angela Vettese and Thomas Wulffen.