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  • MJ#12

    Ethics

    Read Manifesta Journal #12 online here.

    “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.

  • MJ#11

    The canon of curating

    At the heart of MJ’s 11th issue, “The Canon of Curating,” lies the question on how the canon of curating is to be defined. If “a history of exhibitions” must be written what should its parameters be? In art history, the canon has been losing ground since the 1960s, when the study of “great artists” began to be replaced slowly by the study of the conditions surrounding artistic practice. This shift was also demonstrated by curators of the time. Nevertheless, within the practice of curating, the canon seems to occupy a noteworthy position—if only because some curators still feel the need to “curate outside the canon.” In the Historiography section, Bruce Altshuler explores the discussion and research around the complex establishment of an exhibition canon. Simon Sheikh notes in his contribution that it is important to keep the inclusionary and exclusionary mechanisms of a canon in mind and reconsider the writing of a history of the exhibition canon through ideas and concepts rather than events. In the Studies section, different scholars explore canonical exhibitions from the last century that took place in England, Italy, and Brazil: Elena Crippa investigates the curatorial strategies of the first International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 at the New Burlington Galleries in London; Paola Nicolin explores the canon of exhibitions in Italy in 1967 and 1968; Inti Guerrero examines the 1998 anthropophagic São Paulo Biennial and its aftermath; and Francesca Franco directs our attention to the curatorial model of the Venice Biennale, focusing on the 1968 and 1974 editions. In an interview with Cristina Freire, Walter Zanini describes his anticanonical curatorial approach for the sixth Jovem Arte Contemporânea exhibition in Sao Pãolo. And in Positions, Bassam El Baroni proposes that a new universality should become the center of curatorial debates, and Jelena Vesić makes five comments on the canons of contemporaneity.

    MJ #11 includes contributions by Bruce Altshuler, Bassam El Baroni, Elena Crippa, Francesca Franco, Cristina Freire, Inti Guerrero, Milena Hoegsberg, Fieke Konijn, Olga Kopenkina, Paola Nicolin, Jean-Marc Poinsot, Simon Sheikh, Jelena Vesić, and Walter Zanini.

  • MJ#10

    The curator as producer

    MJ #10 inquires into the different ways in which curators can be producers, expressing their ideas through their practices. Moreover, it seeks to question how such a role affects the definition of the profession and discipline, and how the curator, forced to operate within the framework of the culture industry and negotiate elements such as entertainment, distraction, and mass consumption, can withstand these external conditions and invent strategies of resistance and critique within the format of the exhibition. In the Discourse section, Boris Buden explores the various points of view amongst art professionals on how to define the new role of the curator in contemporary art production. Pascal Gielen, on the other hand, discusses the problems of the curator in the today’s neoliberal network economy. Gijs Frieling describes in the Practice section his curatorial approach at Amsterdam’s W139: refraining from pressuring artists to produce art and explain themselves in the theoretical discourse. The Dialogues section presents an interview between Claire Bishop and Nato Thompson concerning the practice of critical and political curatorship. In the Positions section, Luke Skrebowski discusses the evolution of Benjamin’s “The Author as Producer” into “The Curator as Producer” and in Studies, Martha Buskirk gives a detailed description of how the Italian collector Guiseppe Panza dealt with the conceptual works of Carl Andre, Donald Judd, and others in his collection. The section Documents features reprints of essays by Lucy R. Lippard and Carl Andre, which were originally delivered at the Art Workers’ Coalition Open Hearing in 1969 at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

    MJ #10 includes contributions by: Carl Andre, Claire Bishop, Boris Buden, Martha Buskirk, Céline Condorelli, Emanuela De Cecco, Christine Eyene, Gijs Frieling, Pascal Gielen, Claudio Iglesias, Lucy R. Lippard, John Roberts, Luc Skrebowski, Nato Thompson, Christopher Townsend, and Nathalie Zonnenberg.

  • MJ#9

    History in the present

    Exhibitions are, by definition, ephemeral. They experience time dramatically. While the works displayed are usually destined to endure, the exhibition itself is condemned to disappear. From a historical perspective, the most authentic locus of an exhibition is arguably in the viewer’s memory. Not all exhibitions, however, are granted a place in history. In its 9th issue Manifesta Journal focuses on the History in the Present and queries the complexity of exhibition’s temporality. Within the section Positions, Mihnea Mircan discusses contemporary artistic and curatorial practices with regard to their mechanisms for processing art history, and suggests that artworks can function as historical objects as well as sites that forecast the future understanding of art. In the section Discourse, Stefan Heidenreich deals with the paradox of eternal contemporaneity, whereas Boris Groys’ essay interrogates the definition of contemporary art through the “excessive” or suspended time of time-based art. Dialogues features an interview with Seth Siegelaub, one of the first independent curators and a chief proponent of conceptual art in the late 1960s. Within the section Studies, Sven Spieker equates curating with a pre-modern understanding of storytelling. The section Documents presents a reprint of a text by Marga van Mechelen in which she discusses three exhibitions that questioned the presentation of contemporary art in the late 1980s. Finally, Chiara Bertola provides an insight into the curatorial practice of the institutional space of the museum, drawing on the example of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in the section Practice.

    MJ #9 includes contributions by: A*Desk, Zeigam Azizov, Chiara Bertola, Dessislava Dimova, Petja Grafenauer, Boris Groys, Stefan Heidenreich, Giovanni Iovane, Marga van Mechelen, Mihnea Mircan, Seth Siegelaub, Elena Sorokina, Sven Spieker and Nathalie Zonnenberg

  • MJ#8

    Collective curating

    Anticipating the curatorial model of the upcoming Manifesta 8, which will open on October 2, 2010 in the region of Murcia, Spain, Manifesta Journal #8 concentrates on the topic of collective curating. Within the section Positions, Raqs Media Collective, curators of Manifesta 7’s Ex-Alumix in Bolzano, Trentino – Alto Adige, describe their approach towards collectivity and collective work. Vít Havránek, who, together with tranzit.org, forms one of the three curatorial collectives of Manifesta 8, focuses on the micro-politics of curating by characterizing the three components of curatorial activity: theory, practice and reality. In the section Discourse, Katharina Schlieben’s essay “The Crux of Polyphonic Language, or the Thing as Gathering” discusses the antagonism and polyphony of the different actors within a collective. Within the section Studies, Mexico City-based curator Magali Arriola gives an insight into the evolution of collaborative practices within several biennials, including Documenta, the Venice Biennale and Maurizio Cattelan`s 6th Caribbean Biennial. The section Mapping features a text by Chamber of Public Secrets, the second curatorial collective of Manifesta 8 contributing to this issue. In their text they provide an overview of active collectives and collaborative artistic activities in Europe. Finally, the section Documents presents the reprint of a historical interview with Jean Leering, former director of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, in which Leering argues for the importance of working collaboratively.

    MJ#8 includes contributions by: Magali Arriola, Jelle Bouwhuis, Chamber of Public Secrets (Alfredo Cramerotti, Rían Lozano and Khaled Ramadan), Vít Havránek and tranzit.org, Jean Leering, Julia Moritz, Paul O`Neill, Alexei Penzin, Raqs Media Collective, Michele Robecchi, Katharina Schlieben, Yulia Tikhonova and What, How and for Whom (WHW).

  • MJ#7

    The grammar of the exhibition

    The Grammar of the Exhibition Manifesta Journal’s new series on contemporary curatorship starts with an inquiry into the fundamental aspects of curating - namely the grammar of the exhibition. In this context, grammar can be defined as the linguistics and vocabulary of curating, and can also be considered an accepted methodology to help interpret and define the ideas, decisions and actions of the curator. Subdivided in various sections, a differentiated group of authors has been invited to contribute to MJ#. Within the section Positions, Anselm Franke investigates the grammar of exhibitions under the conditions of the society of control. Within Discourse, Mieke Bal undertakes an analysis of the curatorial syntax by comparing the exhibitions 2MOVE (Belfast, Oslo, etc. 2007-2008) and Partners (Munich, 2002-2003). Mary Anne Staniszewski traces the grammar of exhibitions at the New York art institution Exit Art by making a close reading of their long-term program in the section Studies, while Cathleen Chaffee focuses on Marcel Broodthaers and his Musee d’Art Moderne exhibitions. Documents includes RoseLee Goldberg's seminal text Space as Praxis (1975), which is republished as an important document on the definition of space in artistic and curatorial practices.

    MJ#7 includes contributions by: Zeigam Azizov, Mieke Bal, Cathleen Chaffee, Anselm Franke, RoseLee Goldberg, Milena Hoegsberg, Bartomeu Marí, Isabel Tejeda Martín, Peter Osborne, Filipa Ramos, Marco Scotini, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Markéta Stará.

  • MJ#6

    Archive: memory of the show

    Archive: Memory of the Show explores the task and meaning of the archive, as both a facility and a concept in the field of contemporary art. Artists’ archives and archives related to museums (such as its permanent collections) have gained prominence in our cultural discourse since the turn of the millennium. But how should an exhibition or a biennial be documented or archived? And is a curator’s archive worth keeping for memory?

    With contributions by: Chiara Bertola, Francesco Manacorda, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Arlette Farge, Bruce Altshuler, Sandra Frimmel, Jurgen Harten, Matthias Müller, Peter Piller, Rafal Niemojewski, Vadim Zakharov, Yasmine Van Pee, Leif Magne Tangen, Frédéric Maufras, Anton Vidokle, Marieke van Hal, Roomer’s Sight and Henry Meyric Hughes.

  • MJ#5

    Artist & curator

    Artist & Curator discusses the circumstances under which the distinctions between those who create and those who mediate, in terms of organiser, facilitator to collaborator in the creative process with the artist, have become blurred. Is curating a meta-discourse or does it exist on the same level as an art practice? What influence has institutional critique had on institutional practice? Should artists influence the structures and processes of institutions? Why, when, and how?

    With contributions by: Ami Barak, Francesco Manacorda, Andrew Renton, Beti Žerovc, Huib Haye van der Werf, Jens Hoffmann, Alex Farquharson, Marieke van Hal, Viktor Misiano, Barbara Steiner, Lu Jie, Anton Vidokle, Issa Touma, Maria Rus Bojan, Janka Vukmir and Michele Robecchi.

  • MJ#4

    Teaching curatorship

    Teaching Curatorship Although the figure of the contemporary art curator is a relatively new feature in the world of contemporary art, it has developed and established itself very quickly. An important part of this process has been the development of an educational system for curators. There have been a growing number of curatorial schools and courses, from short workshops to full programs of graduate studies. Just as it is the case with art education, however, curatorial education seems to be a complicated issue. What can be taught and learned in such a process? Can curatorial schools transmit merely technological skills and general information or can they shape and develop one's fundamental positions and understanding of art? Are such schools merely a system of self-reproduction of the system, or do they enable their students positions that oppose conventions and routines? A number of people involved in the process of curatorial education are invited to reflect upon these and other issues.

    With contributions by: Zoran Eric, Stevan Vukovic, Paul Brewer, Mercedes Vicente, Rainer Ganahl, Dominic Willsdon, Kate Fowle, Angela Vettese, Sasa Nabergoj, Catherine Hemelryk, Alice Vergara-Bastiand, Robert Fleck, Pier Liugi Tazzi, Cloe Piccoli, Teresa Gleadowe, Pip Day, Natasa Petresin, Karina Ericsson Warn, Mans Wrange, Richard Flood a.o.

  • MJ#3

    Exhibition as a dream

    There have been a lot of exhibitions and other events dealing with the issue of dreams recently. Dreams have been connected to art for a very long time. What is important, however, that they have become one of the major cultural paradigms of the last century. They are a key concept in the Freudian understanding of the unconscious, a crossing point of the personal and social, and a compromise between desires and cultural repression. Moreover, the concept of dreams has an even more obvious social dimension as 'social dreams', utopian way of thinking. In both contexts, dreams are tightly connected to curatorial work. The issue discusses the concept of dreams as it appears in the recent curatorial work, and point at the issue of the role of curator's unconscious.

    With contributions by: Viktor Mazin, Valery Podoroga, Udo Kittelman, Robert Fleck, Nicolas Bourriaud, Luca Cerizza, Raimundas Malasauskas, Giacinto di Pietrantonio, D.A.E., Alia Rayyan, Maria Hlavajova, Kathrin Rhomberg, Gregor Jansen, Victor Palacios, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jochen Volz, Pavel Pepperstein, Una Szeemann, Alicia Framis, Tobias Berger, WHW.

  • MJ#2

    Biennals

    The theme of the 2nd issue is the complex role of biennials of contemporary art and other big art events in a globalizing society. There has been a lot of discussions of importance and role of these events. The extraordinary, global expansion of the number of such events, not only in big centres, but also in smaller cities and sometimes in transitional situations has been both criticized as hypertrophied and praised as a way of decentralizing art system and connecting it to a wider global audience. The aims of the issue are both a reflection upon the role and possibilities that such art events in different social and cultural contexts and a reflection upon the background of these developments.

    With contributions by: Okwui Enwezor, Pablo Helguera, Thomas Wulffen, Slavoj Žižek, Rosa Martinez, Francesco Bonami, Carlos Basualdo, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Vasif Kortun & Serkan Ozkaya, Lev Evzovich, Michele Robecchi, Isabel Carlos,and Edi Muka.

  • MJ#1

    The revenge of the white cube

    It seems that the idea of the "white cube" is already overcome. Cultural strategies in the 1980s and 1990s were turned against the white cube, trying to relate the works, projects and exhibitions to actual time and space and to the social and political realities. The "white cube" was considered to be out of time and space, an ideal, a sterile, utopian place for no less sterile autonomous art. Several recent exhibitions and other events, including the last Documenta XI, indicate a different understanding of the "white cube" and a new importance of white cube strategies for curatorial work today.

    With contributions by: Beti Žerovc, Boris Groys, Hedwig Fijen, Art & Language, Bart de Baere, Iara Boubnova, Branislav Dimitrijevic, Charles Esche, WHW, Viktor Misiano and Igor Zabel.