Curators' Personal Attributes and Modes of Practice: A Historical Comparison

By Susan Ostling.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 22, 2014 $US5.00

The contemporary curatorial role is one that in some sense appears to be so radically different from its immediate forebears. Were there precedents of curatorial practice I have wondered that would lead to a greater understanding of the contemporary art curator? To answer this question I consider two "curators," working approximately 500 years apart: Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) from Bologna and Seth Siegelaub working in New York (1967-1972). Following Foucault, I consider firstly the transformations in dominant discourses, which have contributed to the assembling and interpretation of collections of significant objects, around which curators emerge. And secondly, I undertake a discourse analysis of an interview conducted with Seth Siegelaub, identifying several of fields of discourse, which I argue have impacted and shaped his curatorial practice. What has emerged through this study has been recognition of how, across time, there is a fundamental duality of discourses at the core of curatorial activities. And, far from undermining or weakening curatorial practice, I suggest this duality plays a dynamic and regenerative role in forming the relationships produced between place, ideas, objects, artists, viewers and capital. This outcome provides a useful framework through which to reconsider the role of the contemporary art curator.

Keywords: Curator, Curatorship, Curatorial Practice, Historical Comparison

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.87-99. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 22, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 452.001KB)).

Dr Susan Ostling

Senior Lecturer, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Susan Ostling is a Senior Lecturer Fine Art, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia. As a ceramist she has exhibited widely in Australia, and in Germany, Singapore and South Korea. More recently her practice has shifted to curating exhibitions. Susan is currently completing a PhD investigating recent changes in art curatorship focusing the independent curator.


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