Saturday 25 August 2012

Journal I on awareness of the curatorial

Picking up from Rachelle's post, personally I'm not too concerned with the proliferation of the word, "curate". Admittedly, I think there are moments when the adoption of the word had seemed a tad odd. Case in point, the change in designation from film programmer to film curator in the local film scene, seemingly just to keep in sync with the changing art trends. Despite the fact that the programming of films, its context and most importantly, its experience (within the theatre) remain unchanged.

From the keepers of a collection, whose job was to care for the collection, the role and definition of the curator has expanded greatly to what it is today. Contemporary curating presents new context or experiences to approach existing conditions or perspective (be it about the past, present or future). Through a combination of artefacts, artworks, situations, etc. they provide that encounter. 

Perhaps a thin line that exist between an artist and a curator is that the former creates, whereas the latter orchestrates? But even then, this is a bit of a generalization. While turning to design, the often cited distinction between art and design is that; design was made with specific purposes and functions in mind, while art's purpose was merely for itself and the artist. While the former largely holds true, the latter is flimsy at best. Particularly in contemporary art making, with the growth of art institutions and market. In a related manner, while economics was once predicated upon production, it is now defined by consumption.

To draw an example, I saw a talk by one of the founders of this company:

In the About Us, they described themselves as "uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires". Evidently, there is a distinct consumer angle, but this doesn't undermine the fact that the way they approach design (at the macro level, which is for whole companies) is by and large the same as curating. They curate a costumer experience, they re-interpretate the context of consumer service and at the core of their practice, is impeccably aware of the consumer's (audience) behaviors and desires.

As the boundaries of art making and design practices (and also other practices) expand, they collide and overlap with the curatorial. I think what's interesting is the arrival upon and identification with the curatorial - the very moment when the practice of curating enters the public sphere, which it inevitably has, as neither sphere (institutional and public) exist in isolation of each other.

Similarly, over the last few decades we have seen plenty of examples of art making gaining awareness within the public sphere, particularly the appropriation of pop art aesthetics into mainstream aesthetics. Of course and thankfully, this appropriation is never just one-sided. In many ways, this trafficking provides a form of acknowledgement to the relevance of both spheres.

That being said, to what purpose this relevance serves, is of course, for each and everyone to decide.

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