72 - Printemps / été 2011

Theme: The practice of curating is flourishing. A rising number of exhibiting institutions and events are inviting curators to mount shows in their venues. Ever since Harald Szeemann was credited with inventing the genre in 1972, the role of independent curator has indeed undergone enormous changes, along with the issues related to the task. Not only are curators are quite visible when their exhibitions are presented but they are also the subject of increasing theoretical investigation, which testifies to the practice’s in-depth transformations. This themed section explores current curating conditions, in particular how the limits of artistic artmaking and exhibition as gestures are being redefined.


Aperçu (cliquer pour agrandir):
, , ,

Articles à la pièce

Sophia Krzys Acord
Paul Ardenne
Jean-Philippe Uzel
Louise Déry
Natalie Desmet
Michèle Thériault

The Curator’s Power


Guest Curating in the Museum: Lost in Translation?
Independent ‘guest’ curators are largely responsible for ushering in important transformative changes to exhibition-making practices in contemporary art. It is precisely their fluid and adaptable nature that creates a responsive, creative space for working with artists and audiences in innovative ways. Yet, this work necessarily co-exists with the curating practices of ‘museum’ curators, who frequently have different priorities and interests with respect to institutions and their audiences. This tension between these practices has unforeseen consequences for exhibition audiences and their interpretation of contemporary art exhibitions.

Curating Exhibitions: An Evolving and Ambiguous Function
The massive global development of cultural industry has had among other consequences that of multiplying exhibitions of current artistic production everywhere—the “biennialization” of art. More than ever, this situation has brought the figure of the “curator” to the forefront, made him (or her) indispensable, the one who must bring order to the profusion of emerging visual arts practices, more abundant than ever today. This has had its consequences, starting with the abuse of power, with curators’ thwarting of the artist’s message and intention. The extreme institutional response, allowing the exhibition system to carry on without exhausting itself, is to make the artist, in turn, a curator.

The Author-Curator and His Critics
The author-curator, extolled by some, decried by many others, is often presented as the new, all-powerful and all-knowing actor on the art scene, with a propensity for upstaging both the artists and their works. Yet, far from being a recent phenomenon, this criticism of the demiurge curator is as old as contemporary art itself, as evinced in the writings of Daniel Buren who, in 1972, condemned the phenomenal power Harald Szeemann bestowed upon himself on the occasion of Documenta V. It seems legitimate, then, to examine the reasons motivating such criticisms, reasons that seem more concerned with the ties established early on between contemporary art and the museums than with the curators themselves.

Curator, your love’s on display
Louise Déry actualizes art historian Hubert Damisch’s expression l’amour m’expose (1989) as pivotal in her reflections concerning the generalist curator—who may come from other disciplines and who works at a distance from the visual arts—and the curator exposed by love, whose curatorial practice suggests the production of knowledge and the inscription within discourse and history of that knowledge produced by the exhibited work.

Institutional Recognition and New Curatorial Practices
Suspected of being too close to the economic logic of capitalism, arts institutions throughout the 1990s favoured curatorial practices that aimed to give them a more critical, even a more artistic, dimension. The curators of this new institutionalism grabbed onto ephemeral or process-driven forms of art for the qualities that lent the institution a kind of visibility, given the works’ own relative invisibility. The institutional critique developed from 1970 to 1990 found itself absorbed by the curators of the 2000s who saw in it an opportunity to pursue their reflection on institutional value.

The Ephemeral as an Agent of Reflexive Inquiry
By way of three case studies, this article addresses the ephemeral and how it comes to play in the constitution of a form of reflexive curating integrated in a gallery’s programming and exhibition space, specifically the university art gallery. Using the ephemeral in such a way fuels a critical rapport with the exhibition site, the status of the work of art and their reception, the display apparatus and what constitutes an appropriate subject for exhibition.

The Form of the Exhibition is a Text

Erwin Wurm
Shary Boyle
L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres
Frédéric Lavoie
Kent Monkman
Jacynthe Carrier



Dark Museum
There is a suspicion that paintings hanging in a museum are mimetic residues of conflicting ideologies that hide behind them. Yet, when placed together, they amazingly reconcile, forgetting all about past wars and about the ideologies that generated them. The museum is thus the model of “paradise,” in which each object is at peace with other objects, “eternalized” in a series of curatorial rituals. The paradox, however, is that in such a “paradise,” sedimental ideologies are reactivated by the throngs of visitors from all over the world, and this motley audience is an embodiment of ideological variety. Today, warring ideologies no longer meet on a museum wall, but in front of it. Thus, the “visitors in paradise” re-ideologize that which was resting in the arms of a museological Morpheus.

Unruled Audiences, Institutions and Pirate Media Ecologies in Brazil
Being one of the most intense points of contact between local creative communities and global markets, media piracy plays a big role in the configuration of the cultural field of emergent countries such as Brazil. Their effects are inevitably felt in national cultural institutions such as contemporary art museums and galleries. In this article, some of the tensions created by this crossover are analyzed by referring to the case of Cine Falcatrua (Cine Hoax), a pirate film society active on the Brazilian contemporary art scene.

The Last Newspaper : l’exposition-forum
L’exposition The Last Newspaper évoque les transformations apportées par les nouvelles technologies dans le monde de l’actualité et les modifications des usages qui y sont liées. Le dispositif créé par les commissaires, les « partenaires » en résidence et les artistes constitue un espace à l’intérieur duquel le visiteur est amené à prendre part à une réflexion sur des questions fondamentales telles que la démocratie, la mondialisation ainsi que le partage de l’information et du pouvoir, soulevant par le fait même la question du rôle de l’art dans la sphère publique.

Postures Commissurales


Gennevilliers | Galerie Édouard Manet, Anomalies Construites by Nathalie Desmet

Montréal | Occurrence, Figures de la mascarade ou La vie passionnante de Félicien by Emily Falvey

Toronto | Diaz Contemporary, Public Disturbance by Gabrielle Moser

Toronto | MOCCA, Pictures at an Exhibition by Gabrielle Moser

Montréal | Aux Écuries, Correspondances (rester ou partir ?) by Catherine Cyr

Montréal | Théâtre La Chapelle, Le Duras Show by Catherine Cyr

Londres | Tate Britain, Susan Hiller by Martine Rouleau

Montréal | Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen, Êtres à l’œuvre by Thérèse St-Gelais

Vancouver | Charles H. Scott Gallery, The Voyage or Three Years at Sea – Part 1 by Kathleen Ritter

New York | Distributed Art Publishers Inc., On Curating. Interviews with Ten International Curators by Katrie Chagnon

Montréal | Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Anri Sala, by Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre

Subscribe to the Newsletter

 Retrouvez nous sur Twitter !Retrouvez nous sur Facebook !Retrouvez nous sur Instagram !





esse arts + opinions

Postal address
C.P. 47549,
Comptoir Plateau Mont-Royal
Montréal (Québec) Canada
H2H 2S8

Office address
2025 rue Parthenais, bureau 321
Montréal (Québec)
Canada H2K 3T2

E. :
T. : 1 514-521-8597