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Curator in Residence

Aesthetics of Curating

Posted on October 24, 2012

I missed today’s curatorial open studio hours (due to an unexpected and poorly timed migraine) and am very sorry if anyone came by looking for me to find an empty desk. But, I’ll continue to be in the gallery next week, working on how to extend some of the questions that were raised at the first “Coming to Encounter” and Gallery TPW R&D event, a panel discussion on “Unshowable Photographs.”

So far, performing curatorial research in public (one of the aims of the R&D programming is to think about how to do research in and with the public) has made me realize what a strange line of work it is. It is not the most exciting set of tasks to watch, especially the research phase, which involves a lot of emailing, reading, and thinking and not a heck of a lot of showing (at least in the way I typically curate an exhibition). I am a bit reluctant to aestheticize independent curating, a job that is typically precarious, poorly paid and usually requires a great deal of cultural capital to even enter as a form of work (though the New York Times is doing a fine job of aestheticizing curating on its own, as is Gallery Girls, in a more low-brow way)

But it’s also been a pleasure to have the time and space to extend the research end of the process, and to discuss my thoughts, doubts and ideas with the lovely folks who have come by, whose opinions I value. And to have the chance to actually examine uncertainty and doubt as key features of curatorial work. The R&D residency has made me realize that I tend to operate the same way with many of my curatorial projects: do a tremendous amount of research and planning and then be very reluctant to actually install or mount things until it cannot possibly wait any longer; put the first few pieces up and suddenly feel sure of the direction the show is going and then work like crazy to get it up. Without that pressure to “get the show up,” curatorial research becomes a strange, different creature that is requiring more chutzpah from me than I expected to just put things on the wall and see what happens: to be open to changing my mind in public (something I have tried to grapple with before in art writing).

Next week, I’ll continue to wrestle with some of these quandaries, hosting an open studio on the following days at 1256 Dundas St. West (at Dovercourt):

Tuesday 23 October: 12-4pm
Wednesday 24 October: 12-4pm
Friday 26 October: 12-4pm

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Gabrielle Moser

Gabrielle Moser is a writer and independent curator. She is currently curator in residence as part of Gallery TPW R&D. She regularly contributes to Artforum.com, and her writing has appeared in venues including ARTnews, Canadian Art, Fillip, n paradoxa, and Photography & Culture. She has curated exhibitions for Access Gallery, Gallery TPW, the Leona Drive Project and Vtape. She is a PhD candidate in art history and visual culture at York University, where she also teaches.