Tuesday, September 11, 2012

who c___ for whom?


art's most recent fad spills onto the world. it is presented as a symptomatic cultural matter, but the presentation reveals exactly what it hides. npr correspondent scott simon writes this piece & opens thus,
How do I love thee? Let me curate the ways...
as verb, word, cipher, "curate" did not just "hit the spot." it had to happen at a time when art has lost its aura and becomes as redundant as information. the public must be guided through the art noise. only he/she who has the expertise can "heal" art by giving it an aesthetic order ("curate" comes from curare, "to take care of") .  

art is materia prima. huge quantities of generic artfair art, supplied without qualitative differentiation is just artstatic. aesthetic commodities need to be processed, cogitated, conceptualized & publicized. art needs arthoodication (a complex task performed by art experts). at this juncture, to curate means to make something better than it was (artmaking is secondary to its presentation).

on this point, übercurator hans ulrich obrist is very clear:
exhibitions have become the medium through which art becomes known (...) exhibitions are the primary site of exchange in the political economy of art, where signification is constructed. (a brief history of curating, p. 6)
curators present an "order," i.e., the exhibition: the embodiment of the curator's deferred presence. they produce cultural spectacles (not unlike the phenomenon of the human voice, a kind of medium for a non-present subject). not really present and yet, the curator's exudation becomes -the more- manifest: a disembodied "order of things" given in absentia. in an age of virtuality, who doesn't want a part of that?

simon quotes a john mcwhorter, who gets it backward:
John McWhorter, the distinguished linguist, told us he thinks curate abuse is "part of the rejection of elitist categorization in American life ... one can claim to 'curate' the mundane and take on the implied prestige of the art expert.
only that this "rejection of elitist categorization in American life" is exactly the campaign's goal! elitism (i.e., arthoodication) is sold to the masses as a democratic (repressed) desire. said differently, you end up "loving" what you really (hate) want & cannot have.

one last but crucial point: though he plays as the artist's ventriloquist, the curator is another puppet. there is always someone behind, pulling the strings. this ventriloquist really is camera-shy. guess who? 

curators of the world, curate!* (while the market rules). 

* let's abuse (instead of avoid) the c__ metaphor. the best way to get rid of a bad metaphor is to wear it out.   


Malagodi said...

"Nothing is true, everything is permitted." Wm Burroughs

Those objecting to the trivialization of the word 'curate' are professional curators.

Words are appropriated, reapplied and dispersed so fast now that any value that they once claimed as having inherent meaning is gone. Words have the meaning agreed upon within the group currently using them. This has always been the case, but there is no caste or academy to enforce definitions or usage.

Sorry curators, your title has been appropriated by organic grocery store managers. Not much to be done about it.

Alfredo Triff said...

hahaha, bravo stephen.

Anonymous said...

you make a generalization. how about curators that care for their job? curators that really want to change things?

Anonymous said...

Amazing Professor! I'm always up to date with your articles :D

As a writer I think it may be the inherited literary curse; when an artist proyects something externally, the symbol of what society understands disinterprets the artist's true "art" so words are ellusive since in the translation of an abstract idea, thought or feeling (any label we express it with) to the actual symbol we created is "not entirely true."

Even the words "Hate" and "Love" are illusive, they are just bonds to the subjects we choose to deal with, or subjects that come to deal with us. So, how crazy is it? "Hate" and "Love" (being "opossites") are nothing but representations of how we connect to any subject, yet WE are the ones who decide which one to "be" because we are the ones who separated them as opposites, down to the core they are mainly only the bond between the "curator" and its "subject." otherwise the "symbol" would not exist! XD I don't if its clear or not but well :)

great article! there's so much in it that I can't digest; it may be beyond me :D

Have you seen the last issue of Metromorphosis? I wrote a "slightly reperspective" of Art! Hope you enjoy it!

-Facundo Raganato

Alfredo Triff said...

yes, erwin-can, there is a bit of generalization on my part for what has become a pretty generalized practice.

facundo: i agree that "when an artist proyects something externally, the symbol of what society understands disinterprets the artist's true "art" so words are elusive." thus, the system has it, we (the public) need a an expert to put the artist's work, intentions, etc, in context for us. :)

Anonymous said...

Why do we need the expert? if the Artist wants to portray its Art, let him go and portray it, he doesn't need an expert to put it context, to the contrary, the "experts" are looking for Art. "Art speaks for itself" it is always the Artist's decision to choose to either lessen the art's "true" connection with fake framed fertilizers so it grows with a financial purpose, or be true with its aesthetics and take the risk with the principles of Art to die as a Van Gogh.

Nobody wants to die as a Van Gogh, but everybody wants to be remembered like him.

-Facundo Raganato