Saturday, 19 January 2013

final exhibition | Curating Lab: Phase 03

Opening Night: 17 Jan 2013
Time: 7pm
Venue: Goodman Arts Centre (map)
              90 Goodman Road
              Block B, #03-13/18/19

To RSVP, please email or call 6516-8817 / 8428

Exhibition Dates: 18 Jan - 03 Feb 2013

Opening Hours: Weekdays: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
                        Weekends: 12:00pm – 8:00pm
Admission: Free
Please direct all enquiries to: Michelle Kuek | | 6516 8428
                                           Stephanie Wong | | 6516 8797


Curating Lab: Phase 03 consists of three exhibitions presented by the participants of the Curating Lab 2012 programme. Beginning with a curatorial-intensive designed as a workshop, followed by internship assignments and a regional field trip, participants were guided by facilitators and mentors in the preceding phases, working towards the presentation of this final exhibition project. Curating Lab: Phase 03 draws attention to histories and the artifactual, their relationships and disjunctions, and the curatorial mediations that condition their production and consumption; to prompt provisional readings and trajectories of inquiries. 


A History of Curating in Singapore is a proposition examining curatorial development in Singapore traced through the undertakings of the individual, state institutions and the artist. The exhibition is predicated on unpacking the strongly-held and at times individualistic beliefs of how art and ‘culture’ intersect in society, where the manifestation of the curatorial has often teased the lines of complicity and intervention. Bringing together anecdotal histories and fragments from the repertoire of key curatorial figures in Singapore’s art history, the exhibition reflects personalities, national policies and social climates that have contributed to the emergence of the ‘curatorial’ as a state of awareness and being, where agencies are negotiated and (re)played. A History of Curating in Singapore is then precedent in its attempt to present a history of curatorial practice in Singapore. (more info)

after|thought interrogates the workings of the ‘Institution’ as a multifarious but coherent system that articulates and mediates  a national consciousness of 9 August 1965 - the date of Singapore’s separation from the Malaysian Federation. Isolating the museum, the media, and mass education as key instruments of mediation, it ponders how one consumes and negotiates the national narrative in relation to our personal memories of 9 August 1965; and how, does this moment of separation recur amongst contemporary generations. Deployed within a classroom setting, artists Joel Yuen, Teow Yue Han and Tse Hao Guang explore these questions, taking as their departure point archival traces of 9 August 1965 presented to them by the curators.

These undertakings into history are distanced by time and the immediacy of the contexts, but in harnessing gaps between contemporary imaginings and experience, the very act of representing something that can no longer be retrieved unfolds. after|thought provokes questions about how the institution and the individual agency becomes manifest as the spectres of separation continue to shape, reify or contradict conceptions or memories of the Singapore present. (more info)

Objectum explores the ambiguity of commonplace objects within museum collections. Based on the understanding that objects in the museum are cherished more so for their capacity to produce meanings rather than any innate qualities, this exhibition explores how objects lacking in fixed identification are malleable to signification. Collaborating with curator and photographer Ken Cheong,  Objectum revisits a 1995/6 exhibition at the Singapore History Museum (redeveloped into the National Museum of Singapore in 2006) titled Memories of Yesteryear, and the approximately 6000 daily life objects amassed by the Museum from 1994 to 2000. As a curatorial gesture, Objectum prompts an investigation into how easily things become embedded into discourses and therefore, how different spaces and agents, including museums, but also curators, artists and audiences, confer meanings onto objects. (more info)


Organised by NUS Museum with support from the National Arts Council, the Curating Lab 2012 programme offers final year tertiary students, recent graduates and young curators exposure into curatorial perspectives and practices. The programme centres on curatorial heterogeneities and contingencies, to be addressed as practices informed by conceptions of the nation and the global, spaces and their contexts, where modalities of practice are shaped and positions defined.

essay | untitled

By Rachelle Su
We are witness to a number of exhibitions and art works that involve commentary or reactions to socio-political issues. Art as activism has always been a highly contested arena, with many varied perspectives on the multiple issues involved. Think about an area in which art and politics had often come into contact, and state the various positions and reasonings for such positions. (6 Modules)  
To speak of a “cultural object” today is too limited, and that is partly because culture has become part of the market economy. Perhaps, the only domain that is not entirely absorbed by the market is the political domain…and a positive outcome of globalization is that we live in such an incredibly radical moment that the best way to participate is through politics, rather than culture.[1]
In “Curating Architecture” project, architectural research studio AMO develops an installation that rethinks the relation between image, data, ideological rhetoric and built forms. This work essentially conveys Rem Koolhaas’ firm assertion that “architecture develops out of shifting global economic and cultural infrastructures”[2], and should be rightly understood as “sites of politics…and that politics admits architecture both as a spatial and social process.”[3] Architecture and urbanism have always been considered as complex and creative acts that are uniquely sensitive as they work on a scale that requires keen calibration between various extremes of function, attitudes, objectives and thoughts. The contemporary city can therefore be read as a hybrid system that is constantly “becoming,” and through different intentions, interventions, narratives and analyses.  Beyond the structuring of cities by static objects such as houses, its urban flux – the ephemeral relationships formed between the users, objects and events – also makes up critical mass of a city’s experience. What is mapped in the mental life of a regular urban dweller will then require (re)-evaluations. Be it having breakfast in the park, wandering along the streets, or rubbing shoulders with complete strangers on crowded transportation, it is meaningful to note that the city arises out of these provisional and negotiated relationships as well.
The temporal expanse within which these dramas unfold, the ongoing writing and rewriting of the city, have rendered it akin to a palimpsest – a favorite term in urban studies of late, from André Corboz to Giuliana Bruno. What this amounts to is a reading of the city as a layered parchment, with countless fragments of possible stories emerging through constant overwriting, none of which can be read in isolation or completeness.[4]
And by doing so, urban dwellers are offered an opportunity to discover something new, and through their own agendas and perspectives find a new mapping and way of thinking about cities. These ambiguous and hidden layers in our urban-scape remain indispensable in recognizing cities’ latent energies and what seems to make up future interventions. This is a significant trial of contemporary urbanism, as it identifies the need to develop unorthodox ways of reading and intervening in the urban framework. The empirical apparatus for conventional urbanism deals only with limited aspects of the city while an elusive void still remains un-approached. The overload of information and stimuli that frames our recent culture is testimony for the need to widen the intellectual horizon and to be equipped with new tools for engaging with modern urban phenomenon. In this case, the contemporary city is one that,
… requires increasingly informed and critical navigation, if any sense – both as meaning and direction – is to be got from it. It seems that the work of interpreters has never been more topical. Approaching the city as a collection to be curated, whether through representations or in situ, opens up new possibilities for exploring and enriching the urban fabric and urban condition as a whole.[5]
Curation in its original meaning refers to the responsibility and care for something. In the past, a curator would traditionally be a person who looks after a collection of artifacts or things in a museum, and is a custodian of all that encompasses the collection – from ensuring that they are maintained in the best conditions, managing new acquisitions for expansion of works, to administrating its capabilities in display. Presently, curation has caught on additional meaning with a considerable shift towards the way things are displayed and less concerned with the specificity of the collection.
It (curation) has become a more loosely defined creative activity, increasingly  employed in a wide range of cultural fields. No longer implying an exclusive link to a collection, the contemporary curator is more like an artist-at-large, representing the world through the widest variety of media, locations and intentions. At its most  extreme, this reinvention of the idea of curation could be criticized as yet another fad of consumerist post-modernity, requiring ever-changing ways of selling  everything. Indeed, there is affinity between the arts of packaging, branding and curating, deployed in equal measures across the department store, the gallery and the museum. And although styling itself can no longer be dismissed as an inconsequential activity, it is the potential of contemporary curatorial practice beyond appearances that renders it most interesting and relevant.[6]
With such a shift from the traditional role of a curator, one naturally asks what is the stance that architectural exhibition-making can take in this expanded definition? Can an exhibition of architecture create a more complex inquiry into the link between architecture and other cultural participants? In her book entitled Art and Architecture: A Place Between, Jane Rendell proposed that public art could be thought of as social space. This proposition was interested in how the various forms of ‘spatial practice’ carried out by public artists engaged with issues developed through ‘spatial theory’. In addition, art and architecture collaborative, muf, also discussed their work as “a place between people”, much like how curation is the place of mediation between the work and the audience. Such an association inevitably provokes revisions in our thinking about the implicit relationships between curatorship and architecture. By taking a broader philosophical look at curation – by re-positioning it both as and within spatial practice – one may articulate ‘care’ as both a responsible act and a conceptual expression where idea and space interact. Ultimately, this links the curator, the architect-urban planner and the city dweller in a shared act of participation. The architectural exhibition, the national gallery, the urban redevelopment project, the heritage precinct, and art biennales, can unravel non-traditional forms of the city and route out fresh navigations between them. In essence, the architect-urban planner characterizes a type of über-curator, whose sculpting of cities provides grounds for their own involvement in the over-arching curatorial function:
Has architecture, properly thought and experienced, ever been otherwise? Is the city, considered as a site of curation, a place of care, anything other than such a irreducible life? Is the responsibility of the city curator, the urban planner, the architect, anything other or less than the fostering of such care? Or can their concern simply be regarded instead as the derived realm of res extensa, its forms and the materiality in which they are represented?[7]
Rather, just as the creative designer curates the city and at the same timecreates their work in a to-and-fro activity between what exists and what will exist, what they have an eye to in this resonating movement is its continuation by others within the space of the city of the room… when the task of the designer becomes not primarily the consideration of built form but the wider task of the consideration of the interplay of people and space, peoples and place… (this) gives responsibility and thus the possibility of curation to the others who will come to inhabit and come to view… this means that there is a responsibility – a political one – to allow for care, to allow for curation.[8]
In 1968, SPUR (Singapore Planning and Urban Research Group) exhibited on Elizabeth Walk a showcase entitled, Singapore: Our Environment Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Clearly, the ideological and educational values of public architectural exhibitions were never lost on civil society groups since post-independent. This exhibition premiered to jolt the public’s awareness of the condition of the city and to ‘bring out the inherent quality of the environment and attempt to recast old familiar scenes in a new light’. Rather than highlighting the state of architecture then, the curatorial technique used in the exhibition was to show deliberately how vital the architectural environment was to the existence of good architecture and practice. Curatorship in this case involves a different conception of space altogether, one that bridges the expanse between production and interpretation, author and reader – the city curator is therefore the ultimate mediator of things in space. Such category of urban curatorial acts translate to what Sarah Chaplin and Alexandra Stara has referred to as ‘poetic interpretations – creative interventions through interpreting and, conversely, invitations to critical engagement through making.’ This school of thought distinguishes curating from other types of public thinking, teaching and research in that it is both affirmative and critical at the same time. In other words, curation is not short of being a spatial practice with the act of exhibition-making an essential device for architectural production.

Traditionally, the role of architectural exhibitions is to display representations of architecture – it is usually linked to the idea of a space with miniature structural models and architectural plans depicting scenes of a building’s development and construction. Although exhibitions are discursive environments, they are also communicative: 
The exhibitor can use them (exhibitions) to gauge public opinions on his or her cause, rally public support or fortify his or her position. For these reasons, the nature and the transformations of (architectural) exhibitions directly highlight the public’s awareness and interest in architecture as a medium for imagining the future and taking stock of the moment.[9]
Beyond these values, architectural exhibitions can also ‘show architecture without recourse to representation (since) exhibitions are produced in spaces and the experience of space is the primary way in which we perceive architecture.’[10] In Martina Eberspächer and Gottfried Korff’s exhibition entitled 13 things, they confronted the subject with the object. The idea of the exhibition was to examine the fields of significance of the objectworld using individual things. What structural effect do things have on the architecture of our reality? Is there a grammar of things in the same way that there is a grammar of language? Eberspächer and Korff described their exhibition as architectural, although architecture as a cultural-political object was never fetishized:
The exhibition room, the stage production: every thing corresponds to an angled wall panel. The panels are arranged in such a way that the observer always has a view from underneath and from on top. The things look as if they have been cut out from some larger framework, they turn away from each other, and also look at each other again around the corners. These are inclinations and aversions. The angled wall panels seem to like frozen moments in the whirling chaos, in the possible network of interrelations. The world of meanings is presented here as an open system in which constellations arise and break away from each other again.[11]
Here is something of a challenge to curators of architecture. How does one focus on the nature of architectural exhibits and the limitations of interactivity in exhibition design without merely just staging an event and controlling the terms of display and object engagement? With the pressing questions that face us about the future of the built environment, the business of curating architecture and the city should perhaps embrace a more messy manifestation – akin to a de-sign(ifier) of things of sorts. A thorough curatorial exercise would be to fully embrace endless questions and contradictions. What, we might ask, is that why not let what happens in art happen with architecture? Being the mythical mother of the arts, how should the treatment of architectural exhibitions differ from that of displaying of artworks? When asked by PRAXIS: Journal of Writing + Building what would be the defining aspect of contemporary moment in architectural production and thinking, Aaron Betsky the director of Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) replied, “If I knew that, I could retire.”[12] As a response to that question, the curator will have to seize architecture’s wider social and political context, and engage directly with spaces, places, people and their ideas. The objective is to discover as many relationships as possible between the city we live in, and the built and un-built objects within it, and how they all eventually coincide together as one curatorial gesture in which we make sense of life.

[1] A dialogue between Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist as recorded in the essay published by Andrea Phillips on “Curating Architecture”, an exhibition at The Showroom, London, 2008. 
[2] Andrea Phillips, ‘Curating and Architecture: Notes from the Research’,, (accessed: 1 December 2012).
[3] Phillips, ‘Curating and Architecture: Notes from the Research’.
[4] Sarah Chaplin and Alexandra Stara (eds), Curating Architecture and The City (London: Routledge, 2009), p.2.
[5] Chaplin and Stara (eds), Curating Architecture and The City, p. 1-2.
[6] Chaplin and Stara (eds), Curating Architecture and The City, p. 1.
[7] Tim Gough, ‘Cura’, in Sarah Chaplin and Alexandra Stara (eds), Curating Architecture and The City (London: Routledge, 2009), p.101.
[8] Gough, ‘Cura’, in Chaplin and Stara (eds), Curating Architecture and The City, p. 101.
[9] Wong Yun Chii, ‘Missions and Visions: A Stock-take of Architectural Exhibitions in Singapore’, Singapore Architect Journal no. 228, August 2005, p.29.
[10] Carson Chan, ‘Showing and Experimenting Architecture’,, (accessed: 2
December 2012).
[11] Martina Eberspächer and Gottfried Korff, 13 Things, Württembergisches Landesmuseum,
Stuttgart, Museum für Volkskunde, Waldenbuch, 1993.

essay | untitled

By Tabitha Lee
Information, as a body of knowledge’s and ideas, is synonymous to the ‘internet’ landscape. Its volume and accessibility provides a readymade resource for curators to mine. Appropriating sets of knowledge as a basis for exhibitions in commonplace, often adopted as a predefined strategy. The Internet and its ‘raw materials’, in its organization and contents, can also be readily assimilated into an exhibition. (6 Modules)

A candid account:

I am not good with words. Hence, allow me a moment to mentally break this paragraph down.

Right, so this body of text praises the resources readily available on the internet. The quantity of information really allows one to start with the familiar click, and into a wonderland of curiosity and fascination. I often find myself getting lost in Wikipedia – Often starting with a specific search, I would often find myself linking from that one searched page to another, without a trace of memory what linked me to the latest page. Even in the course of Curating Lab, the tapping of the resources available online has been quite inevitable. In fact, the basic fact-finding was done online! One weblink to another, coupled with our imaginations and other texts the concept grew in structure and form. Steven Johnson clearly puts our experience into words, “Chance favours the connected mind.”

The internet has also allowed us to have easier and quicker access to things we are interested in! I learnt how could be utilized to run a quick search on stored items via their accession numbers. In fact, 
almost everything can be done via the internet. This thought came to mind – how much fun would it be to curate a show via the internet. Imagine booking the venue, liaising with artists, art handlers, gallery sitters etc etc all via email or internet connections, hope for the best, and hope everything turns out perfectly. Just a random thought, but hey! Definitely worth a try.

The internet and its vast readily available resources and knowledge give rise to 2 main issues. First, the debate on the term “curator,” and how its pervasiveness has brought about curators who fight for their rights to stay offline.

Issue 1 | The C-word.

Curators are increasingly using the internet in the multiple phases of exhibiting. Well, that we all know. But what about the way internet brings a new wave of “curators?” The kinds not formally engaged by institutions, or those of academic qualification. These new types of “curators” I am wondering about are those who manage content of interest, and carefully display or make available to public viewing, all with the advent of the internet. Some proudly bestow the C-word upon themselves, while most managers of content often operate simply out of interest, or aren't even aware they curate.

According the dictionary, (y’know, the built-in ones in your Macbooks) a curator is one who a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection. Doesn't that mean everyone is some sort of curator? To be honest, I hoard the silliest items. From French macaron boxes to stickers from Pasar Malams or our local night markets, used in a variety of ways. I post pictures on Instagram, but before I do, I spend a bit of time to make sure they look presentable, as well as ommiting boring pictures. I repost interesting videos and articles on Facebook that I deem worth sharing with those around me. Does that make me a curator of some sorts as well?

Back to the internet and curating. With the rise of social media/blogging sites like Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest, do we also see a rise in lay-curators who manage and disseminate content of their choice to the world around them? Is this not similar to a hired curator going through the processes of selection, acquisition, and designing to display items in a public arena?

Enough with the rhetorical questions; I have come to learn that the internet has indeed perpetuated the advent of lay-curators. Not that it is something worrying (in my opinion). However, there is the ongoing debate about the term curation, and what it means for a layperson that happens to disseminate materials of interest to be called a curator. Some curators are of the opinion that the term “curator” has been devalued. These curators work hard at their jobs, gunning for the perfect exhibition, while these youngsters sit comfortably at their laptops or with their iphones, reposting somewhat artsy pictures and quotes on Tumblr, or putting their entire life in pictures on Instagram. By definition, these people do cut it as curators. They take the pains to consider if the possessed contents are of any interest (not necessarily to be public interest in certain occasions). These are obvious content curators that make it a practice to find content and share them. Some of these content curators may be of influential status (given the vast fans/followers “liking” or sharing their posts), which only gives them further validation of their chosen content and the impetus to share more content. However, “former actual curator” turn writer, Choire Sicha calls such people “filthy bloggers” or “lowgrade collectors.” While I am quite shocked at his choice of words, it shows one extreme polar end of the debate on the term “curator.”

While Sicha is on one end of the spectrum, there are many people for the looser usage of the term. Many actual curators are turning to the internet to give internet users a feel of their space, and what they can expect in the museum or exhibition. Many museums do up their websites beautifully. Pictures are carefully taken and chosen to best present their galleries. They hope their website visitors enjoy the pictures and virtual tours, in the hopes that they (the visitors) in turn share the links with their friends via online methods. If interested, the layperson/curator then selects a medium of sharing. As such, how can the institutional curator then devalue the notion of the layperson as a curator when they depend on these people to spread their ideas creatively? It is quite impossible to remove the layperson from the notion of curating entirely as the internet has drawn the layman and the curator much closer. Virtually. By removing the curatorship notion from the laypeople simply based on the disapproval of their virtual methods might be shooting oneself in the foot, especially if one’s institution relies heavily on the internet for various purposes (from what I can think off, off the top of my head: to attract visitors, acquire items etc.)

This debate on the issue of the notion “curating” gets a little on my nerves. While some work really hard to earn the title of a curator, the term is also used to describe people in general who find content and share them. However, I feel that this is quite a small issue, and not worth all the name calling/rude language. In my opinion, its because the term is just used due to the lack of any other word to clearly describe the notion of selecting and caring for items in a collection.  Well, that's also proven according to my searches on the thesaurus (on my trusty Macbook and a general search on Hence, I would not be too nitpicky about such terms until a better word can be found.

Issue 2 | The right to stay offline

Here we see another issue brought up with internet playing an increasingly larger role in our lives. With the burgeoning pervasiveness of the internet, and increasing computer literacy, (as touched on above) many museums are pushing to be as tech savvy as they can. The demands of the audience also shift towards desiring more information on museum websites. Many museums seize the opportunity to grab the interests of potential visitors. This might have added an extra burden on the backs of curators – to curate information online for the institution, its website and the general public. Many curators struggle to keep up with the ever-changing waves of technology. Especially those from the older and more technologically conservative generations. I mean, younger curators should have no problem coping with these changes, more so if they are used to using such technology on a daily basis. But what about the older generations - folks who struggle when forming a text message on their under-utilized smartphones, or have Facebook accounts with only their children as their friends – who cannot adapt to these changes quickly? When they applied for their jobs, such seemingly arduous tasks were not on their job description. Hence, their reason for not wanting to use the internet is valid!

I wouldn't say who is right or wrong, but because the internet and all the technology involved are really moving at mind-blowing speeds, our demands shift to suit technology even faster. We all want things fast, be it information, resources or loading speeds. While the internet brings many benefits to the curator in research, it also brings about the common use of the term to describe ordinary people who take care and pride in their sharing of content, only to be met with heavy and perhaps harsh disagreement from certain curators. Many curators are forced to adapt faster than their minds actually can, in order to fulfill institutional demands for visitorship or online presence, often causing unnecessary stress and increased workload. Hence, online content, though seemingly common/ordinary, sees a lot of discourse and clout around it.


essay | untitled

By Ng Shi Wen
Books, e-books, websites, artists books - a collection of images and text spread over linear and non-linear pages are valid curatorial forms. They also play on the differences (and similarities) between document(ation) and material(ization). Compare this to the exhibitionary. (6 Modules)

This statement questions the nature of text -- can they be mediums through which curating can take place? Does the validity of text as a curatorial medium blur the distinction between the document and material (which are objects) and documentation and materialization (which are acts)?

July 2012

What are ‘curatorial forms’? What is curating?

The etymology of the word ‘curate’ conveys care – the care of minors and lunatics, and the care of souls

Yeung Yang, pp.12 in Fominaya and Lee, 2010
Today a curator is expected, or may choose, to take on multiple tasks like conception, artistic direction, administration, project management, programming, publicity, dealership and writing.

Michael Lee, pp. 6 in Fominaya and Lee, 2010

The rise, over the last forty years or so, of exhibition spaces that have no permanent collection has led to a shift in the focus of the role of curator towards that of a ‘filterer’ or ‘selector’.

Magnus Renfrew, pp. 141 in Fominaya and Lee, 2010

Curating can be likened to caring for an (art) object. The curator is expected to care for the works in all its aspects. His or her role also is to communicate the significance of the collection to the public, to act as a “filterer” or “selector” in order to construct a coherent and focused narrative, which can best allow the viewer to perceive the work. The curator acts somewhat like the middle person between the artist and the viewer, like the editor of a book.

Texts and images as valid curatorial forms

In writing, one chooses what to include. There is a process of selection and selecting is a curatorial act. How does one translate sight/experience into text? The process of expressing the visual as text is already an added layer of  interpretation when one considers the fact that texts seek to represent something. In re-presenting, the text maker is implicated, being the agent who decides on how to re-present. Image making is a similar process, for in making an image there is a decision to be made on what to include and exclude. In the case of books, this is followed by another selection process – what images to include and where to place them in a body of text. If the practice of curating is one that is largely synonymous with acting as a “filterer” or “selector”, text and images can be seen as valid curatorial forms.

What is the difference between the document and the material? When are the distinctions blurred?

When considering this perhaps it is best to begin with examples. Many pieces of art, especially sculpture or installation art, are photographed (think Heman Chong’s Stacks). Here the art is documented in the form of photography, but the photographs of the piece will not be sold as art. However, another interesting example that was mentioned during the curating lab intensive was 
that of 2000 yuan bills being slot into books borrowed from a public library. These were then photographed, and the photographs transacted as art. In this case, the only way others could encounter this art was through its documentation. Here, the document has become the material, the art object.

Texts as exhibition

The difference between an exhibition and a display can be crudely described as such – a display is merely the showing off of a collection of objects. They are arranged and manipulated for visual consumption, but may not necessarily be ordered in a thoughtful way. An exhibition, on the other hand, would imply that the “display” has been through some sort of curatorial intervention.

Texts as exhibitions, then, is not an invalid claim. Both are curated (having gone through similar acts of selection and re-representation), as this essay argues above, and seek to communicate an idea or concept to the viewer.

December 2012

I started thinking and talking about curating in July 2012 with a way of  thinking that had been shaped by years of being immersed in my field of study (the social sciences). It is the way of understanding the world and its phenomena by seeking definitive answers. I imagined curating to be similar to a research essay, expressed not in the medium of text but in visuals, both having a clear and focused narrative (coming from the curator) through an unabashed neglect of discordant voices that did not help the narrative. Viewers (of both text and exhibition) would come away having learnt something, or understood the curator’s point – all viewers would derive the same understanding, and from there they were free to agree or disagree with it.

Reviewing my response to module 4 now, what has become strikingly obvious are the gaps in my understanding of curating. 

To curate inevitably also deals with space. The exhibitionary can allow the space to speak, whereas books, or press space, is fixed space that the viewers cannot transcend. Whereas the viewer is an active agent who is free to move in an exhibition space, text is necessarily linear. Pages are ordered, and order has agency.

To curate, if it means to care for the objects in all its aspects, also requires allowing for the objects to speak for themselves, and to provoke thought, as the objects do, and not to provide answers, to tell. In such a framework, the act of translating sight into text seems almost unfair to the art objects, for in doing so, the act of text making is already interfering with objectivity.

This is not to say that texts, or more specifically, books, cannot be valid forms of curating. However the ways textual space and the medium of text itself are interpreted by the viewer is essentially different from the exhibitionary. It may privilege information, or order, or interpretation. What I can take away from this difference in the ways I have negotiated Module 4 pre and post experience is that there is no simple answer to what curating is, and following that, what ‘curatorial forms’ are. Curating is a practice that can take many forms and focus on various aspects of “caring” within the ecology of art today. It is a malleable practice that can be shaped by the commercial, by history, by art and artists, by institutions, the state, etc.


Fominaya and Lee, 2010. Who Cares? 16 Essays On Curating in Asia. Para/Site Art Space with Studio Bibliotheque, Hong Kong.

Friday, 18 January 2013

common programme: Curatorial Roundtable 05

Date: 18 January 2013, Friday
Time: 7.00pm
Venue: NUS Museum (map)
              University Cultural Centre
              National University of Singapore
50 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119279
To RSVP, please email or call 6516-8817 / 8428
Limited seats available.

Please direct all enquiries to: Michelle Kuek | | 6516 8428
                                                   Stephanie Wong | | 6516 8797

:: Curatorial Roundtable Series 

Presented in conjunction with Curating Lab 2012, the Curatorial Roundtable series is a public talk series that gathers together curatorial and industry practitioners across different spectrums to discuss their latest exhibitions and projects. Although presented primarily for the participants of Curating Lab 2012, the series is an opportunity to bridge the gap between the curator and the audience, providing opportunities for interaction and stimulating discussions on curatorial practices and process.

:: About Jim Supangkat

Jim Supangkat (b.1948) is an art critic and chief curator of CP Foundation in Jakarta. He was the professor of Fine Art and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology for twenty years. As the leading curator in Indonesia, he initiated the Indonesia New Art Movement in 1970s regarded as the beginning of contemporary art discourse in Indonesia. He has been curating international contemporary art exhibitions in Indonesia including Contemporary Art of the Non-Aligned Countries (1995), CP Biennale I (2003) and CP Biennale II (2005), Contemporaneity: Contemporary Art in Indonesia at MOCA Shanghai (2010). He has written several books and numerous essays introducing contemporary art in Asia and Indonesia to the international art world. In 1997, he received the Prince Claus Award for this attempt.