curatorial activity and
“Art without Artists?” It was under this alarmist title that, two years ago, the artist and e-flux co-founder Anton Vidokle criticized curators for claiming the status of artists and critics in an inadmissible manner. His finding was not new. It had already been a topic of discussion in the late sixties, when the curator and critic Lucy R. Lippard was accused of using the exhibitions she designed after the manner of the Concept Art of her day to stylize herself as an artist who regarded other artists merely as a medium.
— Sabeth Buchmann, “Curating with / in the system”
The 21 st-century curator may also be expected to interact with the press and the public, giving interviews and talks. Curators may be required to participate in fundraising or development activities such as sponsors’ or patrons’ events, and they may be involved in the academic world through partnerships with schools, colleges or universities, providing lectures, seminars, internships or work placement opportunities. As the curatorial profession is continually changing, developing and expanding, so the curator’s range of skills must develop and expand to meet these new challenges and opportunities.
— Adrian George, The Curator’s Handbook
The 4th edition of RIACT combines artistic creation, research in the arts and artistic curatorship, inviting the submission of proposals that seek to provide original and well-grounded insights into the relationship of these three spheres of activity.
Curatorship of an art exhibition is widely acknowledged to effect an institutional and public mediation that is vital to the implementation of a previously designed curatorial idea. Among other aspects, said articulation is what Adrian George alludes to in the above-cited excerpt. However, if the exhibition we are considering consists in the public display of a “practicing” artist’s” creative processes, intended to exhibit a set of works in whose execution the curator was deeply involved, merging experimentation with reflection, then the curator’s mediation is also significantly expanded to the sphere of production and research, making the curatorial process inextricable from the artistic idea.
In other words, curatorial mediation becomes so involved with the artistic process as to be considered artistic mediation (distinguishing it from institutional and public mediation), generating an atmosphere of aesthetic empathy, shared investigation and co-production between the artist the curator, which in its radical instances can even assume the form of a co-authorship.
In fact, as has already been suggested, if the development of said creative process is merged with the intrinsic and specific elements of artistic research (within or without academic purposes), then curatorship of an art exhibition gains an added density, intertwining the three fields contemplated in RIACT’s upcoming edition, to wit, artistic creation, artistic research and curatorial production. So much so that we dare suggest the following syllogism: if curatorial activity is interconnected with artistic creation in the moments that are propitious to the gestation of the proto-images for an exhibition/investigation, and if authentic artistic creation implies an underlying artistic investigation, then the curatorial concept is also interconnected with that investigation and must be shared and equally relevant to both artist and curator.
In terms of the types of curatorship contemplated in RIACT nº 4, we suggest the following possibilities, notwithstanding others that may be equally relevant:
I — Artistic research underlying the curatorship of exhibition projects whose materialization is carried out by specialists who do not claim the status of artists for themselves. For example, an artistic research conducted by professional curators trained specifically in the field of Curatorial Studies. Or, conversely, a research based on artistic creation with a curatorial focus carried out by sensitive philosophers, art historians or other specialists, preferably from the fields of the Humanities.
II — curatorship of research and artistic creation projects developed by other artists, fully assuming the risk implied by the lesser distancing between both and the possibility of transformation of the respective curatorial project by a co-production implying problematic authorial issues. Sometimes, this modality of creation, research and curatorship is nourished by an existing bond of friendship and reciprocity between artist and curator (we have all come across such cases), with the risk of slipping into an atmosphere of curatorial condescension and a lassitude of the dialogues which should structure the intended project. However, such a complicity may also generate fecund and surprising experiences of cooperation, namely when the intersubjective harmony between curator and artist does not obscure the critical gaze. For this to be possible, it is crucial to adopt a Habbermasian principle, according to which all judgements about a creative and curatorial process are “pretensions of criticisabe validity”, permanently submitted to experimentation, to demanding exercises of cross-comprehension (including the silences implied by certain phases of the creative and investigative processes), as well as multiple adjustments made up until the moment of the work’s public display.
III — Curatorship of research and artistic creation projects developed by other artists, where curators/artists are additionally encumbered with responsibilities in artistic teaching, carrying with them a “maieutic presumption” which will spread over into the project of the artist who will make his/her work and investigation public. This involves an undesired academic and institutional ascendancy on the part of the actor who assumes the curatorial role, thus demanding that the artist in question and the curator /artist (especially the latter), develop a mutual ability to suspend or recreate the academic rituals and teaching techniques within an atmosphere of undaunted creative and investigative experience.
Important Dates for RIACT N.415/02/2022
Communication of the reviewing process results to all candidates.
Submission of the final proposals (between 5000 and 7500 words).
Communication of the reviewing process results to all candidates.
Presentation of the RIACT Journal at an Artistic Research International Conference.
* The first stage of the peer review process is completely free of charges. However, if the proposals are accepted, the applicants pay a nominal fee of fifty (50) euros to FBAUL, to be used for the English translation of RIACT’s Editorial, Introduction, and other sections of the Journal.