Project coordinated by Shaun Wilson
Entrepot Gallery: 02.12.2002 - 20.12.2002
Centre for the Arts, University of Tasmania
Curated by Kyra Pybus
02.12.2002 - 04.12.2002
Distance: the Space Between
Curated by Carolyn Rose
05.12.2002 - 09.12.2002
The Moving Line
Curated by Emma Redfearn
10.12.2002 - 12.12.2002
Curated by Alicia King
13.12.2002 - 17.12.2002
Curated by Nicole Maguire
18.12.2002 - 20.12.2002
Curatorial Symposium 2002 catalogue essay
(Apologies for the notoriously bad writing from my student days ;p)
Historically speaking, the 'curator' referred to a museum custodian from a collection representing a specific theme or category within an institution. The curator knew specific, minute, painstaking details regarding their collection and every object, artwork or artefact receiving individual listings, classifications, sub-categories and numbered indexing.
The curator was educated, often resided inside cluttered museum storerooms and musty underground catacombs. The curator was the organiser, the display coordinator yet rarely the public face. The curator was a specialist in their field and often highly regarded within society circles entrenched within intellectualism. These images of the curator still exist within numerous institutions but placed within a contemporary setting the curator has, more or less, escaped from timeless museum storerooms of the rarely seen collection and found the freedom of D.I.Y.
In 1988, Damien Hirst, a then 3rd year Fine Arts student from London's Goldsmiths College managed to captivate a tired and stale British art world, arguably changing perceptions of the role of the artist-curator. Exhibiting a three-part exhibition in a disused dock warehouse, Freeze became a benchmark of new British art. From the cultural wasteland of the Thatcher government's policy of art school closures and arts funding 'economic accountability' emerged an outspoken, rebellious new breed of artists who made valid and renowned contributions to curatorial practice led by 'bad-boy' Damien Hirst.
The 'artist curator was a term that moulded the next decade of visual arts worldwide. The 1990s became the 'curated 90s'. Artist run initiatives (ARIs) emerged from derelict, disused buildings in shabby areas while artist collectives and communities emerged distrustful of contemporary standards in museology and visual arts politics. Curating was effectively delivered from the bastions of high art to lowbrow, 'in your face' exhibitions that sprang up throughout Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
From then on, younger artists on a global level were 'fundamentally dissatisfied with existing visual art models' (Bywaters, 2). The need for the artist curator is now crucial for artistic freedom within the confines of entrepreneurial professionalism.
Once a taboo term, the DIY artist curator is now capable of staging any kind of exhibition they choose without the pre-existing support of a gallery or institution. The curator no longer needs an M.A in classics; an artist merely needs the opinion of 'becoming' a curator without the traditional right of passage. Curatorial freedom of this unrestrained, bureaucratic free zone nurtures the artist and delivers exhibitions worldwide that give rise to the revamped, modified perception and practice of the curator. 'Art is not just about making a vision; it is also about imposing that vision on others' (Sensation, 9).
Building on the next generation of DIY artist-curators, the Curatorial Symposium 2002 visits a fresh nesting ground of vibrant freedom showcasing the vision, and style of newcomers to curatorial practice. 'Do anything' was the brief given to this inaugural exhibition; established from the need to provide Hobart artists an opportunity to curate without limitations. Each invited curator was given three days to set up, install, open and then close his or her exhibition.
These participating curators are a collection of undergraduate Fine Art students from the Tasmanian School of Art. The artist they have selected vary in style and experience. Emerging and established artists are represented within the exhibition platform from local and national arenas. I wish all of those involved in this project great success in their future careers and look forward to the big question of 'what’s next?'
Malcom Bywaters, forward, DIY: do it yourself, Monash University, Melbourne, 1999.
Sensation, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of the Arts, Thames and Hudson, London, 1999.