Victor Burgin on curation

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In this cross post from junk for code the British conceptual artist/photographer Victor Burgin comments on the way that  art curators are caught up in fashion, rather than fostering a critical and curatorial climate in which long-term critical projects in art can be sustained and flourish.

The quote  is from an "interview" of Victor Burgin in the 1990s in the Journal of Contemporary Art.  by Laura Cottingham. Burgin is asked: If you were in a position to navigate the course of contemporary Western art, what would you chart for the next thirty years? What would you like to see happening in art- making? Or in art's reception? His reply is:
 If you'd asked me that question twenty or more years ago I would have found it much easier to answer. Back then, I wanted to see a dissolution of the hegemony of modernism and an expansion of art-making to include considerations of content that, you may remember, Greenberg defined as "something to be avoided like a plague." I wanted content to be defined not solely in terms of "personal expression" but in terms of critical social and political issues -- considerations that Greenbergian modernism defined as improper to art. I wanted an end to the definition of visual art in terms of the traditional media alone. I wanted to see a use of contemporary technologies and forms that would make a link between what was on the gallery walls and what was in the world outside.
He adds that today most of that seems to have happened, but what didn't happen, or at least didn't happen very widely, was the element of critique.
He says:
What took over was a sort of sixties pop art celebration of the eighties, a period of Reaganomics and junk bonds, when a speculation-fed art market had expanded to the point where it could economically support those "alternative" sorts of activities -- but only to the extent that they could be commodified. ....What I would like to see now, though, is going to be much harder to get. I would like to see the creation of a critical and curatorial climate in which long-term critical projects in art can be sustained and flourish. I would like to see novelty and "mediability" displaced from their present positions as paramount aesthetic values. I would like to see just a little less of museums being led by the nose by fashion. This is even more politically important now that being "right on" is becoming chic. I would very much like to see "critique" take forms other than simple accusation.
There is very little in the way of a critical and curatorial climate in which long-term critical projects in art can be sustained and flourish.

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This page contains a single entry by Gary Sauer-Thompson published on January 12, 2009 9:04 AM.

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