What Should Be Put Up On The Walls? – The Secret Life of Curators
Walking around galleries or museums we rarely give a thought to how much preparation, research and organizing goes into an exhibition. One of the key actors in that process is the curator who is responsible for the success of the show from creating the concept to assembling the catalogue and doing guided tours.
Krisztina Szipőcs, deputy director of Ludwig Museum, is experienced both in the methods of traditional museology which usually focus on collections, individual pieces or an artist’s oeuvre, while the curatorial approach can be observed more on thematic exhibitions featuring contemporary art since it is more suited to grasp the vibrant nature of current pieces.
„Unlike a smaller, non-profit gallery or the Young Artists’ Studio, regular rules usually don’t apply to the number one contemporary art museum of Hungary. It is a great responsibility for the museum to showcase well-thought-out concepts supported by a professional census. Particularly in small galleries, curators have the chance to experiment with something entirely new by closely cooperating with artists – however, we also regularly manage the creation of new works such as the one at the Venice Biennale.”
The curatorial profession is a relatively new one – although it started to spread in Hungary in the ‘90s, theories regarding the curatorial approach and the role of the curator only started to appear in the 2000s. Nowadays it is an independent field of study at the University of Fine Arts in Budapest.
"During the co-operation between artists and curators, the latter conduct research, support the artist's work with theoretical background, but they also have a practical role to play when applying for sponsorship or writing a tender, or acquiring the equipment for, say, presenting video works. Naturally, the curator’s job also includes actually arranging the pieces – that is how the job of a traditional exhibition organizer and a curator meets in the middle”, explains Krisztina Szipőcs.
However, it is important to note that not all contemporary shows are curatorial exhibitions. While the Péter Türk Retrospective is an example of traditional museology, Permanent Revolution shows the curatorial approach: artists reflecting to the Ukrainian revolution make up the unique selection. According to Krisztina Szipőcs, whatever was the approach, it is imperative that the curator or museologist have a firm opinion about the material and be able to express it.
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