In 2003, Jens Hoffmann initiated a call to arms: “The Next Documenta Should be Curated by an Artist.” It resulted in 25 fiery artists’ texts on the act of exhibition making and the tension between the role of the curator and that of the artist. Now, almost a decade later, it seems that if there’s one thing the art world is certainly not short of, it’s curators. There’s no shortage of artists either, but the word curator has seeped seamlessly into the vernacular and any act of selection seems to be termed curation: curated blog content, curated pop-up stores, curated dinner parties. You’re probably a curator yourself. But alongside the exponential trajectory of the term curator, I have been noticing for a while now a growing number of exhibition makers who are quite clear that they don’t want to be called curators. This leads to asking, has the term curator become overloaded? Has it become diluted? And where does this leave curatorship? Curious about what this trend responds to and what it questions, I spoke with three artists engaged in the practise of making exhibitions: Luis Berríos-Negrón, Nina Hoffmann and Reynold Reynolds.
Luis Berríos-Negrón’s statement for Synapse – The International Curators’ Network at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt begins with “Luis Berríos-Negrón, is not a curator.” No delicate aside or an apologetic I’m-from-a-visual-arts-and-architecture-background, Luis makes it clear that he sees the term curator as problematic. He explained: “Instead of acting as a facilitator for the artist, the curator has become the power structure. Free-market Capitalism and the rash commercialisation of art have demanded that the curator become a fundraising agent, a narrative builder, a storyteller.”
In most circumstances, instead of being a matter of situating artworks, curatorial practise, the process of making exhibitions, has become about constructing a grand or meta-narrative to provide entertainment for an audience. The differences between representation and entertainment, situating and modelling, have become blurred, and not in a productive way. Among many others, Anton Vidokle muses that, by and large, the curator has become a structure that the artist has to fight against as opposed to working with.”
read the rest in the berlin art journal