The explosion of the term “curating” started just a few years ago with everyone curating anything from menus to our┬áown lives. This led to a need to define exactly what being a curator means.┬áThere is ┬áno simple answer to that. There are lots of cross-over areas, but mainly they fall into these categories.
In large institutions with large collections, there are subject specialist curators. As the name suggests, they have expert knowledge in a specific area. It could be as broad as Indian art or as precise as Picasso’s pottery sculptures.
They often have staff who perform the traditional duties expected, such as cataloguing and documentation. This allows them to do research and organise exhibitions. Besides what you’d expect, their work┬áalso┬átypically involves managing teams, as well as negotiating and meeting with other curators from other collections.┬áNaturally in smaller institutions they need to do everything.
Independent curators are free to determine their own projects. They could be organising any number of exhibitions from single events to those that are part of a program or the entire program itself.┬á
And then there are artist curators. People expect them to break the rules and go against the establishment. They can get away with anything because anything they do is art. They may seem like something new, but there is a long tradition in the west dating back as far as 1768 when Joshua Reynolds became the first president of London’s Royal Academy of the Arts.┬á
There are various reasons for doing shows.
One reason is to bring topics to the audience. But who is that audience and what’s the best way to reach them?
Sometimes you can bring a new target group to an existing program simply by the works you choose. Other times you have to take the work to them. That may mean leaving the site entirely.
We continue┬áour┬á7 part series written by participants in this yearÔÇÖs edition of the┬áKonstfack┬áCuratorLab based in Stockholm, Sweden. They recently went to the┬á11th Gwangju Biennale 2016,┬áThe Eighth Climate (What does art do?)┬áin Korea. The texts originally appeared on their┬áwebsite.
intro by maeshelle west-davies
United to what?
United by┬áAhmet ├ľ─č├╝t┬áis a two channel HD animation. One channel is being shown on a public billboard in Gwangju while the other channel is being shown simultaneously at┬áAlt Art Space and YAMA in Istanbul, as well as in several other cities.
I first encountered United,┬áAhmet ├ľ─č├╝t‘s latest work, on a billboard in Gwangju, in the context of the 11th Gwangju Biennale,┬áThe Eighth Climate (What does art do?). It made me think. I saw it again in my hotel room in Stockholm and once more in the city where I am based ÔÇô Iasi, Romania.
From the first viewing to the last one I had both mechanically and literally responded to the affirmation: United, by asking myself impulsively, “United to what?” This is actually a realization of how deeply our personal actions are rooted in cause and effect processes.
I did not think that the title referred to the fact that the gun manufacturers are united in the fight against the public sphere ÔÇô as Ahmet ├ľ─č├╝t may have suggested. I immediately took the responsibility for action and resurrection, although always from the comfortable position sometimes given by community, from a ÔÇťsafe societal environmentÔÇŁ or through distance.
The work is partly based on two tragic stories. Enes Ata┬áwas┬áan 8-year-old child who was killed in 2006 during a protest┬áin Diyarbakir (Amed), Turkey (also the native city of Ahmet ├ľ─č├╝t). Lee Han-Yeol┬áwas killed during the 1987 democratic uprisings in Korea.
Analysis of the subject matter of this artwork brings us to the conclusion that certain questions play an important role.
“How can we explain such terrible and tragic events?”
And/or “How can we memorialise them?” Personally, I believe such tragic events should be spoken about, but that politics and critique of ideology are the only proper languages in which they can be discussed.
Making the two events that ├ľ─č├╝tÔÇÖs animation refers to ┬áspeak once more seems to be the artworkÔÇÖs raison dÔÇÖ├¬tre. So, in order to decipher this speech, it is of the┬áutmost importance that we analyse the political climate surrounding these events from a local, national and transnational perspective.
One of the leading questions of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, namely ÔÇśWhat does art do?ÔÇÖ became not so much a general question, but a more pointed one in light of the artwork in question:
Are we ÔÇô the viewers – united in murdering these two youths?
And if so, how did we do that and why?
My argument is that, in order to answer such paralysing questions, one must question both the political climate and particularities of the events that the works refers and to ÔÇôto the same extent our own political climate that surrounds us as viewers. I claim that even more that just employing this line of questioning, each of us must (to the extent of his/her own possibilities) try and connect these disparate and seemingly unrelated political milieus.
How can we describe the local politics that surrounded these state killings and how can we connect these tragic events within some broader/ larger political sphere, be that national or international politics, to whom they are allegedly connected? What are the political claims of the artistic work and how can works of art make effective political claims without even directly entering the realm of political activism and political struggle?
by Florin Bobu
Florin Bobu (b. 1978, Tecuci) is a Romanian artist and curator who lives and works in Ia╚Öi. He studied Media Art (B.A., 2005), as well as Sculpture (B.A., 2005) at ArtEZ/AKI, Akademie voor beeldende kunst en design, Enschede, The Netherlands.┬á
Since 2012 he has been president of the 1+1 association, a non-profit institution that aims to promote the role of contemporary artists in today’s Romanian society by strengthening their status, discussing their responsibilities and supporting artistic practices. He has also been a volunteer co-curator of┬átranzit.ro/┬áIa╚Öi, since 2012.
Among the exhibitions he has participated in:┬á
ÔÇťBest ManÔÇŁ, Les Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid, curator Nathalie H├ęnon and Jean-Fran├žois Rettig Sectiunea D├ęconstruction / Reconstruction (2008); ÔÇťVideos EuropaÔÇŁ (2009); ÔÇťAs You Desire MeÔÇŁ, the contemporary art gallery of the Brukenthal National Museum, curator: Raluca Voinea (2010); ÔÇťThe Vector Association at Western FrontÔÇŁ (2011); ÔÇťCradle CountÔÇŁ (with Andrea Faciu), The Unanswered question. Iskele 2, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein & Tanas Berlin. curator: Rene Block (2013); ÔÇŁDemocracy ÔÇô not quite enough for everybodyÔÇŁ, RAM ÔÇô Media Art, Http:// section – the Media Art festival, Arad (2014); The School of Kyiv ÔÇô Kiev Biennial (with Cristina David, Livia Pancu and Dan Acostioaei), (2015).