Monday 11 August 2014

journal | Thoughts around the institutional prerogative: Part 1

by Melvin Tan
Field trip to No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at CCA

I concluded that what hit me the hardest since finally graduating from the system and joining Curating Lab + working in a small production studio, is coming to terms with how disparate the institutional/corporate mould is to the way small enterprises/collectives run.

A lot of examples of exhibitions discussed and visited during the Curatorial Intensive were set within the authority and dispensation of a government-led organization. It got me wondering about local examples that embody other curatorial modes in exhibitions/programmes/publications. Some examples were put to us to consider and yet, I still struggle to break out of the institutional state-of-mind.

So you can only imagine how much HK was an eye opener for me. Spring Workshop

By context of being ‘community-led’, ‘civil’ or ‘semi-professional’ and ‘independent’ in Singapore, I find that —in all its administration and strategy— the curatorial within such programmes are often not a specific or distinguishable praxis in its production cycle.

My new experiences in an art collective allowed me to learn the different characteristics and processes that art operates outside of the known institutional system. I saw through how a different currency to art-making imbues very different art (presenting art that institutions can’t/wouldn’t carry), the discourse and criticality is different (with/without bureaucracy, KPIs and OB markers) and the atmosphere & spectatorship is different (with/without the aggregation of market/HNIs and stakeholders of statuary boards or state-funded agencies).

2013, opening of Closure in a Teban Gardens En-Bloc Unit
The effect of not distinguishing such properties, makes the purpose of the production and its art not clearly identifiable to the producers and audiences. On the lived experience, operations and criticisms blur the lines between the top-down and bottom-up modes and reflexivity is at stake as we follow isomorphic values and parochial views to spectate/create. So I found myself wondering about activism and liabilities of the curatorial particularly the local context. Within the sovereignty of practice, are curators sitting in a pivotal position to resolve such issues?

No comments:

Post a Comment