The culture of curating and the curating of culture(s): the development of contemporary curatorial discourse in Europe and North America since 1987

O'Neill, Paul (2007) The culture of curating and the curating of culture(s): the development of contemporary curatorial discourse in Europe and North America since 1987. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Centred on the development of discussions around independent curatorial practice from 1987 to 2007 - a time of expanded understanding of the role of the curator - this dissertation illustrates how curatorial discourse has generated a significant body of knowledge within contemporary art discourses.
This research has both theoretical and practical outcomes, represented within a dissertation that is divided into three parts:
1. An historical survey of key developments within curatorial practice and discourse, forming the main body of text in three chapters.
2. Four exhibition projects realised and analysed alongside this research (with Power Point presentation submitted as Appendix Two).
3. Forty-four original interviews with leading curators, artist-curators, exhibition historians, critic-curators, graduates from curatorial training programmes and leaders of these courses working between 1987 and 2007 (Appendix One).
1. Chapter One reveals how, with the first appearance of independent exhibition-makers, `demystification' of the curatorial position offered a critique of artistic autonomy in the late 1960s. It illustrates how curating became a form of self-presentation with the `curator-as- auteur' in the late 1980s, and how the `super-visibility' of a new generation of curators took place in the mid-to-late 1990s when curatorial debates and published anthologies began to appear as a way of correcting gaps in historical curatorial knowledge. Chapter Two traces the globalisation of Curating in the context of biennials and large-scale international exhibitions from 1989 to 2006. It considers how, since `Les Magiciens de la Terre' in 1989, curators have embraced globalism, transculturalism and a move towards collective models of curating. Chapter Three expands on the concept of the `curator«a bst' and reveals a
convergence of istic and curatorial practice in the 1990s, which provides a theoretical hacktop to the Practical component of this research project.
2. Employing a curatorial strategy of dividing an exhibition into three spatial categories - the background, the middle-ground and the foreground - four related exhibitions were realised as
practical examples of how differences between collaborative and authorial structures converge in processes of co-production. These exhibitions reflect upon the dominant issues of the theoretical research in order to practically demonstrate how the group exhibition is based on organisational structures that are the results of co-operation between artists and the curator(s), leading to co-authored exhibition formations.
3. Interviews represent the methodological approach employed as the main means of gathering knowledge and provide the primary basis of the analysis of key issues emerging during this period. They not only establish an historical trajectory for curatorial practice but also allow identification of key moments of historical conjuncture within the field.
Through an examination of interview transcripts alongside literature published between 1987 and 2007 and the four inter-connected exhibitions, this research re-evaluates the relationship between artist(s) and curator(s) by demonstrating how the group exhibition form has become a creative medium of communication in and of itself.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Research Areas: B. > Theses
A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 10763
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2013 08:50
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:45

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