Curating after the Global

A belated post, but Curating after the Global. Roadmaps for the Present, the third in the series of anthologies published by The MIT Press in collaboration with CCS Bard is out. In many ways more complex than the two previous books in the series – The Curatorial Conundrum (2016) and How Institutions Think (2017) – all three combined provide an interesting overview of concerns, histories and positions in the ever-expanding contemporary curatorial field and its discourse.

Coming to the end of the series – and thus to several years of close collaboration with various people involved, including the editors (Paul O’Neill, Simon Sheikh, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson) and the designers (Julia) – I wrote a short text that closes the book (below the start and end of it), in which I (finally!) have the last word…Screen Shot 2019-11-16 at 19.05.38

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Three times lucky…

It’s been a slightly longer process than with the two previous books in the series, but Curating after the Global: Roadmaps for the Present is now off to the printers. This time the team of editors had expanded to four: in addition to Paul O’Neill, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson, with whom I worked on How Institutions Think (2017) and The Curatorial Conundrum. What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice? (2016), Simon Sheikh was this time also part of the team of editors. Once again we worked with Valerio di Lucente from Julia, who is as pleasant and responsive a designer to collaborate with as one can wish for.

Although the range of contributions looks similar to the two previous books, quite a few of the essays/text/exchanges this time were significantly longer, some needing work in terms of structure and clarity, or serious expansions and/or reworkings from the presentation during the conference the book follows on from. All of which required more time than originally envisaged. In the end I’ve also managed to squeeze in a small contribution myself, about how anthologies like these are key platforms and mediums in the development of curatorial discourse, and my role in the care for words and the nuanced differences between the spoken utterance and the printed word on the page. Due out in the autumn, available via The MIT Press. Announcements about (a) launch(es) to follow in due course.

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Curating After the Global

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Following on from How Institutions Think (2017), and The Curatorial Conundrum, What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice? (2016), I will shortly start work on Curating after the Global. Following a conference at the Luma Foundation in Arles in September 2017, the book aims to address curating with respect to questions of locality, geopolitical change, the reassertion of nation states, and violent diminishing of citizen and denizen rights across the globe.

It has become commonplace to talk of a globalised art world, with specific circulations of discourses, commodities, and individuals, and even to speak of contemporary art as a driver of globalisation. This universalisation of what art is, or can be, is often presumed to be claimed at the cost of local traditions and any sense of locality and embeddedness. But what exactly does it mean to be global, or to be local in the context of artistic, curatorial, and theoretical knowledge and practice?

The book will approach these questions in four sections, which include diagnoses of current conjuctures, exhibition histories, institutional repositioning and roadmaps for the future. The editors are Paul O’Neill, Simon Sheikh, Lucy Steeds and Mick Wilson. Among the contributors are: Marwa Arsanios, Athena Athanasiou, María Berríos and Jakob Jakobsen, Ntone Edjabe and David Morris, Liam Gillick, Alison Greene, Prem Krishnamurthy & Emily Smith, Emmanuelle Lainé, Nkule Mabaso, Qalander Bux Memon, Morad Montazami, Paul-Emmanuel Odin, Vijay Prashad, Kristin Ross, Grace Samboh, Sumesh Sharma, Joshua Simon, Hajnalka Somogyi and Françoise Vergès. The book will be designed by Julia and is due out in 2019, published by The MIT Press.

How Institutions Think – book and launch

Coinciding with the third conference titled ‘Curating After the Global: Roadmaps for the Present’, organised by a range of partners, including CCS Bard and the LUMA Foundation, the book following the second symposium, How Institutions Think, was released.

Only receiving copies last week, I was surprised by the sheer pleasure of seeing and holding the final product, which this time was designed by Julia. Although I know the book probably better than anyone because I’ve read the texts so many times, feeling the weight and the texture of the cover and the paper, as well taking in the dimensions of the objects was a real surprise. Working with the designers, specifically Valerio di Lucente, was a real treat, as they seem to take such pleasure themselves in dealing with the objects in all their material intricacies. For an interview with Valerio about how it all came together (and a broader and better range of images) see here.

The following quote underlines the connection between the project’s concept, the diversity of content and the various forms, in terms of layout, the texts have been given.

To begin we decided upon an A4 format for the book. It seemed appropriate to start from a standard format used by almost every country in the world – apart from American influenced countries – and in some ways it represents the epitome of an institutionalised sheet of paper. The design expands on the symposium identity, whereby the book is built on a grid displaying different ‘constructs’. The essays’ layout changes throughout book, from one to two columns, from side-notes to footnotes. This variety reinforces the idea of a breadth of positions, rather than fixed conclusions. This design approach also allowed to better represent the tone and typology of the contributions. A longer column for deeper reads, a two-column system for more ‘narrative’ essays, and alternating widths for conversations.

It’s always a pleasure working with designers who work in this way, rather than simply ‘give shape’ to material. Although Valerio claims that Julia don’t design ‘by committee’, working from the content and the concept is by definition collaborative, and thus doesn’t feel hierarchical.

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Taking its title from Mary Douglas’s 1986 book, How Institutions Think, the texts in this anthology explore contemporary possibilities and limitations of institutional formats, practices and imaginaries, starting from a different place, namely from categories of knowledge, cognition and the social. Authors were invited to reconsider the practices, habits, models, revisions and rhetoric of institution and anti-institution in contemporary art and curating by considering practice, cognition and social bond, power/knowledge, and institution as an object of enquiry across many disciplines including political theory, organisational science and sociology.

Contributors are: Dave Beech, Mélanie Bouteloup, Nikita Yingqian Cai, Céline Condorelli, Binna Choi and Annette Kraus, Pip Day, Clémentine Deliss, Keller Easterling and Andrea Phillips, Bassam El Baroni, Charles Esche, Patricia Falguières, Patrick D. Flores, Marina Gržinić, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Alhena Katsof, Emily Pethick, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Sarah Pierce, Moses Serubiri, Simon Sheikh, and Mick Wilson.

The book will be launched in London in January 2018 at The Showroom. Watch this space… In the meantime you can find it in a bookshop near you, or order it from the publishers MIT.