Since the turn of the 21st century the irresistible rise of the figure of the curator has been the defining feature of the contemporary art landscape. In response, educational institutions have increasingly sought to offer programmes with an emphasis on curating and the curatorial. The University of Edinburgh offers three such programmes, while many others exist elsewhere in Scotland and beyond. Thanks to these shifts – in combination with the establishment of biennials and mega- exhibitions at the pinnacle of contemporary art and the renewal in recent years of a concern with the politics and economics of the production of art – it has become impossible to ignore the import of the exhibition as the predominant location for the presentation and reception of contemporary art. Accordingly, the exhibition (and its histories) has become a fertile site of inquiry in art and art education. As Florence Derieux has rather polemically claimed, ‘it is now widely accepted that the art history of the second half of the twentieth century is no longer a history of artworks, but a history of exhibitions.’
The intention is in no way to suggest or to support a view that the exhibition is the correct vehicle for artistic or curatorial practice, nor is it to condemn the exhibition as an anachronism, an irrelevance or restrictive framework. Rather, in light of these developments, the ambition of this symposium is to engage in an increasingly urgent examination both of the implications of a privileging of the exhibition within art and art history, and of its characteristics, its politics and its histories. In order to do so we have invited contributions, which address the exhibition from both historical perspectives and through contemporary practices. In particular, the following key, if not exhaustive questions, have been devised to provide a starting point for the day’s discussion:
Diana Baldon is an Italian curator and is the director of Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm. She is currently writing her PhD thesis at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna on the crossover between art and politics in European post-conceptual art after the year 2000. She received a master’s degree in Creative Curating at Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2002. Since then she realised many exhibitions internationally, most recently, Counter-Production at the Generali Foundation (Vienna) and the 2nd Athens Biennale HEAVEN (Greece). Her critical writing has appeared in a number of catalogues and international art magazines such as, among others, Artforum International, Flash Art, Texte zur Kunst, and Afterall. Since 2005 she has conducted lectures, public talks and panels on curating and contemporary art at, for instance, the Venice Biennale; Witte de With, Rotterdam; the Postgraduate Program in Curating at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste; and CuratorLab at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm.Read More >>
Kirsten Lloyd is Associate Curator at Stills, Edinburgh, where she is currently curating a three-year programme of exhibitions, research workshops, public lectures and residencies entitled Social Documents, intended to examine artists’ mediation of social, political and economic realities (http://www.stills.org/social-documents). The exhibition ‘The Ethics of Encounter’ launched the project in 2010 with an interrogation of the complex interfaces which have emerged between aesthetics, politics and ethics in art’s most recent ‘social turn’. This was followed in 2011/12 with a public programme centred around the documentarist Allan Sekula’s rigorous photographic and filmic mapping of the economic mechanisms and spaces of globalisation. The trilogy will conclude in 2013 with the group exhibition 'ECONOMY', co-curated with Angela Dimitrakaki. Investigating the production of subjectivity through a capitalist economy in the 21st century, the project will be hosted by CCA Glasgow and Stills Edinburgh. Previous projects have included Nicky Bird’s Beneath the Surface/Hidden Place (2006-10), charting the effects of economic change and regeneration in Scotland and the Martha Rosler Library with Anton Vidokle (2008).
Kirsteen runs Parallel Lines, an agency for curatorial projects and research based in Glasgow. Over the past three years she has worked on projects including new commissions and accompanying publications with artists Graham Fagen and Corin Sworn at Timespan in response to the unique historical and geographical context of Sutherland in Highlands of Scotland; presentations including a programme at Salon Populaire, Berlin on her ongoing curatorial research with the extensive Lindsay Anderson archive held at the University of Stirling; and as Programmer: Professional and International Visits for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. In 2012 she enrolled as an AHRC-funded doctoral researcher at Glasgow School of Art to develop a thesis on the recent history of the curatorial in Scotland. Between 2010-2011, she led the VIRE: VAGA International Research Enquiry commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council, investigating the conditions and needs of curators in Scotland working internationally.Read More >>
Dr. Simon Sheikh is a curator and theorist. He is Senior Lecturer in Curating and Programme Director, Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a correspondent for Springerin, Vienna, and a columnist for e-flux Journal, New York. He is currently a researcher for the on-going Former West project, initiated by BAK in Utrecht. Curatorial work includes exhibitions such as Capital (It Fails Us Now), UKS, Oslo, 2005 and Kunstihoone, Tallinn, 2006; Vectors of the Possible, BAK, Utrecht, 2010; All That Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism, QUAD, Derby, 2011, Do You Remember the Future?, Etagi, St. Petersburg, 2011, and Unauthorized, Inter Arts Center, Malmö, 2012. Recent publications include the anthologies In the Place of the Public Sphere?, b_books, Berlin, 2005, Capital (It Fails Us Now), b_books, Berlin, 2006, and On Horizons (with Maria Hlavajova and Jill Winder), BAK, 2011. A collection of his essays is forthcoming from b_books. Lives in Berlin and London.Read More >>
Lucy Steeds is the lead author of a forthcoming book that offers critical reappraisal of the 1989 Paris exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ (Making Art Global, Part 2, Afterall, 2013) and is shortly to co-convene a session titled ‘Thinking and Rethinking Exhibition Histories’ as part of the annual conference of the UK Association of Art Historians (April 2013). She is Editor of Afterall's Exhibition Histories series of publications and co-Pathway Leader for MRes Art: Exhibition Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London. She has a background in exhibition making in the field of contemporary art from six years at Arnolfini in Bristol and her previous teaching experience includes lecturing in art history and theory at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford. She has a doctoral degree in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College in London, for which she took specific works of art by Jasper Johns and Bruce Nauman as a point of departure in order to write about limit experience and its approximation in prehistoric art, psychopathology and neuroscience.Read More >>
Steven ten Thije is researcher who holds an MA in both Art History and Philosophy. He previously taught art theory at the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Ten Thije is currently working on a PhD at the Hildesheim University, Hildesheim, supported by the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. His doctoral research focuses on the development of collection display in museums for modern and contemporary art in the second half of the twentieth century. In relation to this research, he also functions as a research curator for Play Van Abbe, a large exhibition program starting in November 2009. In addition, ten Thije is a thesis supervisor at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. He has written articles for journals such as De Witte Raaf and has contributed to other catalogs and art publications, such as the book Once Is Nothing. Individual Systems (part of the joint contribution of the Van Abbemuseum and BAK to the Brussels Biennial in 2008). Ten Thije lives and works in Amsterdam and Eindhoven.Read More >>