Just launched: TAKE on Art Magazine — Issue #5 ‘CURATION’ co-edited by Vidya Shivadas & Natasha Ginwala

A recent panel discussion called The Trouble with Curating at ICA (London) (i) began with the chair (Andrew Renton) stating: ‘If you type curating in your Google search you will see that there is a bit too much curating going on in the world and there are a lot of things that are done in the name of curating.’ He went on to discuss the wildly variegated use of this slippery terminology, whose spectrum of meaning speaks from old-fashioned credence at one end, while at another it is still subject to active reformulation chasing the shifting scope of the field. The panel then hit upon a more ‘troubling’ interrogation, namely — ‘What does curating change in the world?’

In an attempt to move closer to unraveling this question, we propose a more particular examination of the verb ‘to curate’ and thereby consciously step away from the business of curating and indulgent pontification on ‘the curatorial’. This issue of TAKE will commence by asking the questions – ‘Who made exhibitions and activated art spaces before the curator emerged? …And how are those interventions remembered? This anthology does not aim to treat exhibition history as an emergent, alternate canon. Instead, it strives to perform as an excavation project that converses with informal histories of exhibition-making and artistic programming of recent decades.

As a live medium, an exhibition is a site of production, a social persona, a constellatory narrative and a shared conversation. Its ephemeral nature lends it a disembodied afterlife – catalogues, floor-plans, a pile of erratic notes and images are most likely the only remnants of exhibitory frameworks. Hence, whilst an exhibition involves the spatial configuration and contextualization of art objects, in itself it escapes object status and may be remembered only as subjective fragments — an incomplete puzzle.

Today, exhibition and museum scenarios are being described as ‘construction site,’ laboratory’, ‘think-tank’, and ‘distribution channel’ — thereby, implementing appropriated vocabularies and lexicons of industry, the media and science (ii). These ‘scenarios’ continue to remain the material we work with as curators; we create them in the hope that they will outlive us, perform as socio-cultural markers and continue to tell stories. TAKE will attempt to tap into multivalent sites of memory to bring forth a collection of critical reflections on exhibition-making practices, collaborative endeavours and artist initiatives that have been significantly impacted the sphere of ‘Indian contemporary art’ and the future potential of curating as a socio-cultural praxis.

i The Trouble with Curating, a panel discussion at ICA (London) held on 9th December 2010, chaired by Andrew Renton with Emily Pethick, Penelope Curtis, Steven Claydon and Pavel Buchler as discussants.

ii I Curate, You Curate, We Curate: Feature on Curating, Part 1; Alex Farquharson, Art Monthly, no. 269 (September 2003)

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