Tag Archives: Art

Kutungka Napanangka and the sticky question of aesthetics

DisplayImage

Kutungka Napanangka, Brown Snake Dreaming, 2004

I don’t have a lot of time to blog today, so I thought I would just offer a little case study that I have been thinking about this week. There has been a lot of debate lately over the short-comings of Aboriginal art history. I have many opinions on this – and I don’t have time to share them all now – but what I would say, is that rather than a symptomatic failure, I tend to think the problems with the field are more representative of the enormous epistemic challenges that Aboriginal art poses to western intellectual frameworks.

Kutungka Napanangka, Morning Sickness Dreaming 2005

 

Kutungka Napanangka is an artist that I have always found intriguing. Not only does she produce beautiful paintings, but her career encapsulates many of the peculiar challenges that Aboriginal art poses. Paintings of the western desert are created at a complex intersection of Indigenous cosmology and market forces. They reveal numerous influences: cultural, familial, more recent influences from the market and from art centre facilitators and art-coordinators. Kutungka was born at Kintore around 1950, and began painting in 1999 through Ikuntji Arts Women’s Centre (Haast Bluff). In 2005, she moved to Alice Springs, where she commenced painting with Papunya Tula Artists.

 

SO1805

Kutungka Napanangka, Claypan Site of Yulkarpa, 2007

Kutungka’s career is interesting because, it has exhibited several seemingly disjointed periods in which her art has entirely changed aesthetic direction. These changes can be clearly aligned to changing external circumstances in Kutungka’s life – such as the arrival of new art-coordinators or her move between different art centres. However, they also reflect her changing personal circumstances – such as her geographic location and proximity to different family members and artistic influences. These changes resulted in major shifts in her art practice.

 

Katungka2

Kutungka Napanangka, Brown Snake Dreaming, 2000

If we are serious about discussing the role of aesthetics in Indigenous art, then I suspect a case study like Kutungka’s could be extremely useful. Perhaps, underneath the superficial aesthetic shifts, we can begin to uncover the underlying conceptual /visual concerns that shape her paintings, and by examining both the continuities and discontinuities, we might come to a better understanding of how aesthetics are contribute to these conceptual/cultural concerns? Doing so might not only shed light upon how western assumptions are brought to bear on our reading of Aboriginal art, while offering alternative ways of viewing and valuing desert painting.

3 Comments

Filed under Blog

Taking baby to the Museum

This blog is a new project, intended as a space where unformed ideas might find their first articulation. Over the 2014 Fall semester I am going to attempt to record a daily thought: just something small that is interesting or troubling me. I welcome your feedback, and hopefully some of these posts can spark further thoughts, debate or critical exchange.

aug 13 1107

Discussing Carl Andre’s Equivalent V 1966-69, Museum of Modern Art, New York

As it is Friday, I thought I would post something a little bit lighter. In one of my earlier posts this week, I mentioned that museums are a guilty pleasure of mine. One side effect, is that my son Gabriel has found himself pushed around quite a few institutions.  In his short 14 months on the planet, he has been to the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Hood Museum at Dartmouth, Toledo Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Met, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Brooklyn Museum (just to name a few). It has been really gratifying to see Gabe become so comfortable with the museum environment, pointing excitedly to things he recognizes, clapping and smiling to video installations, or peering curiously at things he finds of interest.

IMG_3146

Gabriel (center) enjoying James Turrell’s Aten Reign 2013, Guggenheim Museum, New York

Clearly I am not the only parent who likes the idea of taking their children to museums (indeed, as the modern museum was founded on the idea of public enlightenment and self-improvement, it seems an inevitable result). I am not sure whether art museums can help stimulate cognitive development or produce more enlightened young citizens, but I do know that in my life the arts have always given me great pleasure. More than anything I would like to share that with my son; to inculcate the value of imaginative and poetic pursuits, so that he too can glimpse the myriad ways of seeing the world around us.

IMG_3092

Examining El Anatsui’s Bleeding Takari II 2007, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Most major museums now cater to children in some way or another. MoMA and the Chicago Art Institute both have terrific children’s areas. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has fantastic programs for slightly older kids, and thanks to Daniel Baumann, the Carnegie Museum now has a wonderfully retro Lozziwurm. The Toledo Museum of Art not only has a family center, but also offers “baby tours.” Many museums offer “stroller tours” – but more often than not, these are pitched equally at the parents as the toddlers (a bit like the moms and bubs sessions offered at cinemas). Toledo’s program differs, in that it was designed by Dr. Kathy Danko-McGhee, an expert in early child development. Designed for children from 2-18 months, these tours have a duel purpose: to stimulate cognitive development in young children, and to teach parents and caregivers how to engage babies’ with art, which in turn promotes brain growth and literacy skills. Sensibly, the tours are limited to half-an-hour, to accommodate for babies’ short attention span.  I am yet to take Gabriel on one of these tours, but am hoping we can get to one in the next few months.

IMG_2762

Crikey it’s big! Checking out Alexander Calder’s Flamingo 1973, Federal Plaza, Chicago.

As it is Friday, and the end of the first week of my daily blogging exercise, I wanted to throw open the floor to you. What are your thoughts about taking baby to the museum? Do you think there is value in taking small children to museums? Have you had any great experiences, or shocking disasters? Is there a museum you particularly love, or a program that you think warrants commendation? Alternatively, do you think children should be left at home; that museums should be a quiet place for adult contemplation? I really look forward to hearing your thoughts, comments, stories… Till then, see you next week.

IMG_3133

I think I’m ready to go Dad! With Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Straw Hat, 1887, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

4 Comments

Filed under Blog

I Wayan Bendi: On Looking at Looking

This blog is a new project, intended as a space where unformed thoughts might find their first articulation. Over the 2014 Fall semester I am going to attempt to record a daily thought: just something small that is interesting or troubling me. I welcome your feedback, and hopefully some of these posts can spark further thoughts, debate or critical exchange.

168314_480531411770_5443325_n

I Wayan Bendi’s studio, outside of Ubud in Bali. (Photo by author).

Growing up in Perth, Western Australia, the island of Bali loomed prominently as a tourist destination. I remember girls in primary school coming back with their hair in tight braids, while the boys sported the ubiquitous Bintang beer singlets. It was not until December 2010 that I first visited Bali, and I must admit, I found it a bit depressing. The Balinese have an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage, evident in myriad forms across the island (art, architecture, food, dance, music). But the oppressive impact of mass tourism is equally ubiquitous. I couldn’t help thinking of Johnny Rotten’s acerbic account of “a cheap holiday in other people’s misery.”

wayan-bendi-cintakunegerikulow_20101116164632

I Wayan Bendi, Cintaku Negeriku, 2008-10

In any case, I get the feeling that most Australian visitors don’t trouble themselves too much to think about Balinese culture: which meant that when my father and I stumbled upon the Neka Art Museum in Ubud, we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. It is a pretty unusual museum for those accustomed to western institutions: most of the rooms are quite open, allowing outside air to breeze through.  Like much of Bali, the Museum has the feel of a sort of faded glory; a quiet resignation to the deleterious effects of modernity. I knew a little of Balinese art, but I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. For my father and I, it was just nice to get away from the throng of street merchants selling tourist curios. However, in the Neka Art Museum, I encountered an artist whose work immediately struck me: I Wayan Bendi. Over the next few days, I tried to seek out as much of his work as I could.

resizeImage.php

I Wayan Bendi, Lukisan ini memperlihatkan pertempuran melawan Belanda. (The Struggle for Independence Against the Dutch), 1985

Bendi was born in 1950 in Batuan, a village near Ubud. He is something of legend in Balinese art, considered one of the leading practitioners of the Batuan style of panting that emerged in the 1920s. In something that will certainly endear him to fans of Australian Indigenous art, Bendi attributes his own take on Batuan painting to a vision he had in a dream. Paintings in this style teem with action, and are crammed full of intricate details, pulsating with the chaotic rhythms of village life. A number of things struck me about Bendi’s work. The first, was the ease with which his narratives combined traditional/mythological elements with the mundane activities of daily life. Huge spirit figures team over scenes of people going about their routines. I was similarly struck with the adaptability of Bendi’s style to incorporate recent historical events: in Ubud I saw images that Bendi had painted of London and Singapore. In other images, he depicts the Struggle for Independence against the Dutch (see above), the World Trade Center attack on September 11, the Bali Bombings of 2002, and even the death of Diana Princess of Wales (see below). Although his style of painting was deeply rooted in his homelands, Bendi was clearly comfortable using it to depict faraway places: from Jakarta to Singapore, Hawaii, London and New York.

wayan-bendi-diana-spencerlow_20101116164744

I Wayan Bendi, Diana Spencer, 2007

But the detail that struck me most in Bendi’s paintings was the recurring appearence in his Balinese paintings of the big-nosed western tourist, sporting a large camera. These figures were inevitably poking their noses/cameras into everyday events – often the cockfights made famous by Clifford Geertz (see for instance, in the lower right of the painting Kebakaran 1999 shown below).

kebakaran_the_firefighters copy

I Wayan Bendi, Kebakaran (The Firefighters), 1999

Amidst all of the action of this Batuan scene, Bendi seems to be critiquing the very act of looking. I loved this critical representation of the objectifying representational apparatus of the tourist/anthropologist. In a place like Ubud, where the packaging of Balinese culture for tourist display has created a tired simulacra of an exquisite tradition, Bendi’s paintings seemed magnificently subversive. I really hope I have the chance to see more of Bendi’s work – I think he is a first rate contemporary artist, and one whose work really warrants some serious critical inquiry.

5 Comments

Filed under Blog

Aboriginal Art and the Archive

This blog is a new project, intended as a space where unformed thoughts might find their first articulation. Over the 2014 Fall semester I am going to attempt to record a daily thought: just something small that is interesting or troubling me. I welcome your feedback, and hopefully some of these posts can spark further thoughts, debate or critical exchange.

13-6_Tolarno-Andrew_8-999x570

Brook Andrew, 52 Portrait, 2013, installation view Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

Museums are my guilty pleasure. When we go on holiday, I am sure I drive my wife crazy wanting to spend all-day-every-day in museums. I say they are a guilty pleasure, because I completely recognise that museums embody all of the problematic features of western modernity. Critically mining the museum/archive is a pretty popular strategy among a current crop of young, urban based Indigenous artists in Australia (Brook Andrew, Christian Thompson, Danie Mellor et al). This is ostensibly the topic of Emily Cloney’s article in the recent edition of Artlink.

christian_at_prm

Christian Thompson working in the archives at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University.

All three are highly sophisticated artists, and I have a great respect for their work. But in the past few months, I have been giving a lot of thought to whether the space of the archive really offers the transgressive potential that these artists are looking for. My thinking here is obviously filtered through Foucault and Bennett – so you must excuse the monolithic epistemic power I attribute to the museum. But I wonder if a different way to think of it might be through Hal Foster’s essay on the contemporary arist-as-archivist. Consider Foster’s assertion:

Certainly the figure of the artist-as-archivist follows that of the artist- as-curator, and some archival artists continue to play on the category of the collection. Yet they are not as concerned with critiques of representational totality and institutional integrity: that the museum has been ruined as a coherent system in a public sphere is generally assumed, not triumphally proclaimed or melancholically pondered, and some of these artists suggest other kinds of ordering—within the museum and without. In this respect the orientation of archival art is often more “institutive” than “destructive,” more “legislative” than “transgressive … Sometimes strained in effect, archival art is rarely cynical in intent (another welcome change); on the contrary, these artists often aim to fashion distracted viewers into engaged discussants (here there is nothing passive about the word “archival”)

Hal Foster, “An Archival Impulse,” October 110 (Fall, 2004), 4.

Foster is clearly celebrating a different kind of contemporary artist-as-archivist here, but I wonder if we can’t read him against the grain. Being “institutive” than “destructive,” more “legislative” than “transgressive” certainly runs counter to the kinds of critique envisaged by people like Andrew, Thompson or Mellor. To me, it sounds more applicable to the work of Aboriginal painters in Arnhem Land, the Kimberley or the Central Desert, whose works consist of a vast repository of deeply felt experiences, registered in a palimpsest of historical meaning.

IW00211_lg

Peter Mungkuri, Ngura (Country), 2012

The type of archive found in remote Aboriginal art differs in one key respect from Foucault’s definition; where Foucault sees the archive as composed of statements existing solely in an exterior space, without dependence on a subjective interior consciousness, the archive of Aboriginal paintings maintains a defiant indexicality to the landscape. All of which makes me wonder, whether in fact, Aboriginal art is always going to be in fundamental tension with the western archive, museum and curatorial endeavor. What kind of archive could possibly be appropriate to mediate the sharing of the archives without absorbing them into an external “law of what can be said?”  I am not sure of the answer to this question, nor do I suspect there is a single answer. Perhaps I will just end where I began, with Foucault:

In this sense, the diagnosis does not establish the fact of our identity by the play of distinctions. It establishes that we are difference, that our reason is the difference of discourses, our history the difference of times, our selves the difference of masks.

Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, A.M. Sheridan Smith, trans. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972), Part III, Ch.4.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

George Nuku: Waharoa/Portal: Te Ao Marama – The World of Light

This blog is a new project, intended as a space where unformed thoughts might find their first articulation. Over the 2014 Fall semester I am going to attempt to record a daily thought: just something small that is interesting or troubling me. I welcome your feedback, and hopefully some of these posts can spark further thoughts, debate or critical exchange.

935943_10151663770508375_1888169641_n

George Nuku, Waharoa/Portal: Te Ao Marama – The World of Light, 2013

Keeping with the theme of materiality, a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing George Nuku’s installation Waharoa/Portal: Te Ao Marama – The World of Light 2013, created for the exhibition Paradise Lost? at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It is a really interesting work, made up of old-display cabinets from the Museum of Anthropology – precisely the kind of cabinets used to objectify and display Indigenous cultures. Before my comments, I would like to quote Nuku’s artist statement in its entirety, because I think it reveals a lot:

Don’t worry, it will be traditional by this afternoon.

This artwork’s shape and elements are dictated by its site, availability of materials, and time; these are some of the factors that determine a given tradition. I say that it is a traditional practice to be innovative. The composition of Waharoa speaks to the ancestors and forces of nature that are present in this Great Hall. The plexiglass as a material speaks to light and the water that surrounds us; they are the source of life itself. The abalone shell and the white feathers speak directly to the wood that surrounds us – the union of earth, sea and air. The red and black paint, and the cord binding everything together, represent time/space and male/female aspects respectively.

The Waharoa communicates to the people that the past is in front of us and the future we remember.

IMG_2952

George Nuku, Waharoa/Portal: Te Ao Marama – The World of Light, 2013

Waharoa is a fascinating work, and I was particularly pleased to be able to see Nuku speak about his practice. I was not at all surprised to hear him speak very passionately about his materials: particularly his use of styrofoam – which he described as “like carving clouds.” Reading his statement for Waharoa, however, one thing that struck me was how much Nuku had adopted the parlance of minimalism (site-specificity, the activation of space etc). The question I kept returning to was whether these (deeply personal) works were antithetical to the aims of minimalism, or whether, in fact, they achieved a more perfect embodiment of these aims than any of the minimalists were ever able to achieve?

IMG_2957

George Nuku, Waharoa/Portal: Te Ao Marama – The World of Light, 2013

I have a feeling, that the key to answering this question requires investigating the nature of self- and object-hood inherent in these works. Nuku intimated this in his speech at UBC, Nuku saying, “I carve poles, but the poles also carve me into what I am now. My work is me.” It is important to note that Waharoa is also a kind of self-portrait, replicating the designs of Nuku’s own tattoos. In Maori culture, tattoos (or tā moko) are more than just surface designs; they reveal much about a person’s identity, lineage and connection to place. In other words, they do not just cover the surface of the body (like western make-up), but reveal something essential from within. Rather than just offering site-specificity through transparency, I wonder if Nuku isn’t getting at something more profound: critiquing the impossibility of the minimalist project through the assertion of peculiarly Maori sense of self-hood, objecthood and space. This is clearly what is at stake in his invocation of connectivity between the art object and its surrounding space; the union of earth, sea and air.  While Nuku’s invocation of innovation sounds decidedly modernist, rather than partaking in the universalism of late Modernism, Warharoa offers exactly what the title suggests: a glimpse at a radically different way of seeing the world. In its transparency, Waharoa does not proffer a single, overarching world-view, but many shifting, disparate and mismatching ways of seeing and valuing the same world.

IMG_2949

George Nuku, Waharoa/Portal: Te Ao Marama – The World of Light, 2013

5 Comments

Filed under Blog

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui

This blog is a new project, intended as a space where unformed thoughts might find their first articulation. Over the 2014 Fall semester I am going to attempt to record a daily thought: just something small that is interesting or troubling me. I welcome your feedback, and hopefully some of these posts can spark further thoughts, debate or critical exchange.

IMG_3069

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui installation image at the Brooklyn Museum (photo by author).

In recent months, my thoughts have increasingly turned to the use of found materials in the work of Indigenous artists. In part, these investigations have been motivated by an attempt to think through the nature of objecthood in Aboriginal art. Although not strictly an “Indigenous artist,” one artist that I have been testing some of these ideas against is the Ghanian born sculptor El Anatsui. I have found it extremely difficult to articulate why I find Anatsui’s work so compelling. When you describe his work – “he uses old liquor bottle tops and turns them into flowing tapestry like sculptures” – they sound a bit twee. But when you stand before these works, it is impossible not to be moved by their poetry and grace. On the one hand, Anatsui is a master of teasing out the former associations of his recycled materials. Here is the description of a 1998 work titled Motley Crowd:

For Motley Crowd … Anatsui used house posts he took from deserted homes in Nsukka region. Historically, when a house built in a vernacular style, primarily of earth and wood, became dilapidated the hardwood posts were reused to build a new house. Some posts supported generations of homes, making them ripe metaphors for endurance and connections to those who came before.

(Exhibition Label, from the exhibition Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui, Brooklyn Museum, February 8 – August 18).

 

IMG_3065

El Anatsui, Motley Crowd, 1998/modified 2010

 

It is clear that Anatsui is mining these kind of relationships across his oeuvre, but what happens after these materials are turned into works of art? Like most Aboriginal art, critical commentaries seem to fall a bit short here. Certainly, we can all see that Anatsui is making something of great beauty, but there is clearly something else at play here.

 

IMG_3057

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui installation image at the Brooklyn Museum (photo by author).

 

I was lucky enough to make it to the Brooklyn Museum to see the final weekend of the exhibition Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui. One thing that struck me in the exhibition, which is made up predominantly of recent works (2010-2011), is that Anatsui’s work is getting better and better. Compared to older works in the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art or MoMA, he seems to be finding subtle new ways to engage with his materiality. The end result is that the works seem much less forced, less bombastic and much more inventive. For me, these recent works are not just engaged a straightforward criticism of colonialism (the effects of alcohol, poverty, etc), but rather, are suggesting something radically new. In their delicate lightness, Anatsui’s recent works seem to be less about the material itself (bottle-caps), than they are about asserting their own individual presence. In other words, is it possible that these works are becoming less about transformation (turning bottle-caps into art; reframing African modernity in poetic terms), and more about the ineffable reality of presentness? These works leave behind any simplistic reading as “alternative modernities” for something that is much more assured in its transcendent contemporaneity.  Since leaving the exhibition, Anatsui’s works have rarely been far from my mind. I wish I could have returned to the exhibition several times, because his works raise so many questions, which are almost impossible to ask when standing before their dazzling radiance.

 

IMG_3054

Mandatory tourist shot outside the Brooklyn Museum. (Photo by the author’s dad).

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

Book Review: Paul O’Neill: The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s)

9780262017725

The Curator as Fall Guy

Review of Paul O’Neill, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) (MIT Press: Cambridge, Mass, 2012)

It seems that no one in the art world is just one thing anymore. We are all some hybrid variation of the hyphenated multiplex artist-curator-critic-theorist-activist-historian-model-actor. While it might seem easy to account for this as the triumph of inter-disciplinarity over the modernist doctrine of specialization, the rise of hyphenated identifiers has been matched by the equally ubiquitous multiplication of new forms of specialised critical discourse. Nowhere is this more evident than in the emergence since the late 1980s of curatorship as an independent field of critical inquiry. Since 1987, postgraduate curatorial training programs have proliferated at tertiary institutions across the world, and the field of “curatorial discourse” has emerged as an accepted (albeit vaguely defined) field.

The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) by curator, artist and writer Paul O’Neill is an attempt to provide a historical account of the emergence of this new discourse, while defining the parameters of the field. Rigorously researched, at times it feels like an act of curatorship in itself; as detailed arguments and counter-arguments pile up it is sometimes hard to discern the author’s own critical voice beneath his dense survey of critical opinions. This is most notable in the book’s second chapter, where O’Neill’s conclusion seems to offer a markedly softer assessment of “Biennial Culture” than that offered in the preceding 30 pages. Nevertheless, O’Neill sketches a convincing history of the emergence of curatorial discourse as a gradual process, beginning with the avant-garde of the 1920s, gaining momentum in the 1960s, before reaching a level of global prominence in the era of the Biennial in the 1990s. Central to this narrative is a shift in agency that occurs as artists begin to challenge the autonomy of the art object, recentering art around the event of the exhibition. For O’Neill, this relinquishing of authorial control by artists was met by the rise of the curator: “curatorship emerged as a creative, semiautonomous, and individually authored form of mediation.”[1] This is highly problematic for O’Neill, who blames curatorial discourse for “establishing, or at least bolstering, a coherent sense of agency in contemporary art production.”[2] O’Neill is particularly strident in his criticism of the authorial role of curators institutionalising meaning within the frame of the exhibition.

At this point it becomes apparent that O’Neill’s account is far more than a simple description of the emergence of curatorial discourse, functioning equally as a strategic manual for institutional resistance. As an artist-curator himself, there is something almost teleological in the way in which he positions the emergence of curatorial discourse. For if, as O’Neill concludes, all curatorial processes should be collaborative, dialogic, and open-ended, there is an unmistakable sense in The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) that he sees this as an inevitable process of internal artistic development, shaking its institutional frames and dispersing its agency.  Leaving aside the orthodoxy that collaborative processes are necessarily more challenging, democratic or open (a point that Claire Bishop takes up with some force in her recent book Artificial Hells[3]), O’Neill’s enthusiasm for the blurred boundaries of collaborative artistic-curatorial ventures raises several objections.

Firstly, despite the repeated description of curators as the authors of meaning with exhibitions functioning as texts, exhibitions do not work in the same way as written texts. Curating is not the same as writing, mostly because artworks (or any object for that matter) very rarely act like words, even when they are used like readymades to the service of a rigidly proscribed curatorial regimen. This is because exhibitions always involve a dialogic tension between the artistic and the curatorial. The problem for O’Neill, is that in attempting to position “curating as another medium of artistic production”[4] he manoeuvres himself into a corner in which it is almost impossible for him to productively define the difference between these two forms of agency. Occupying both positions (as in the artist-curator) does not necessarily mean that the two discourses become united (that is, that the curatorial becomes artistic or the artistic becomes curatorial). The discourse of architecture does not simply evaporate in a home is designed by a builder. While I wholeheartedly agree with O’Neill’s conclusion that we need to move beyond “the level of an oversimplified antagonism, in which the practices of artists and curators are kept separate from one another,”[5] this should not be at the expense of critically understanding the particular ways in which different modes of thought contribute towards the construction of artistic and exhibitionary meanings.

Reading O’Neill against the grain, we might instead see the artistic and the curatorial as two distinct modes of agency present in every exhibition of artworks. The first of these (which for convenience we might term “the artistic”) resides within the artistic form (which is expressly not limited to objecthood). The latter (which we might term “the curatorial”) controls the mediation of these forms in space and time (again, this is not limited to physical spaces, and can include virtual spaces). Regardless of whether they are wielded by an artist, curator, artist-curator or collaboratively, these two modes are always in balanced tension. Some instances, the balance of agency will be weighted in favour of the artistic, while in other instances it will swing towards the curatorial, but both will always be present in some respect within an art exhibition. The key question in both artistic and curatorial discourse might then become negotiating this push and pull of these separate (but necessarily connected) discourses: a complex balancing act to ensure the openness of creative processes. Ultimately, this is the aim of The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s): to enable “dialogical spaces of negotiation between curators, artists, and their publics.” This does not mean that we all must become artists, but that by critically addressing different modes of thought there are new possibilities. In beginning to map out the shape and form of curatorial discourse, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) takes an important step towards kindling these possibilities.

 


[1] Paul O’Neill, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) (MIT Press: Cambridge, Mass, 2012), 4.

[2] Ibid. 2.

[3] Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012).

[4] O’Neill, op. cit. 129.

[5] Ibid. 129.

Comments Off on Book Review: Paul O’Neill: The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s)

Filed under Blog, Uncategorized