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What can a curator do that you can't?

Before reading my text, I recommend reading more about the "artist-curator" and "curator-artist" as these ideas significantly influence my perspective, particularly in relation to exhibition curation.

The term "curator" has evolved considerably over time. Initially, it referred to the"one who has the care and superintendence of something". Nevertheless, in this text, I will confine myself to the role of the curator in the context of post-modern (or even post-post-modern) art that has undergone dramatic changes due to the rapid emergence of various art forms and movements in a relatively short period.

These days, we hear how people curate their playlists, wardrobes, and websites. This usage seems far removed from the traditional art world's understanding of curation. This usage seems far removed from the traditional art world's understanding of curation. However, when music plays a crucial role in the exhibition execution, or what participants must wear, or if a project takes place on a website, curators, not artists, may have the final say in these matters, particularly when they lead these projects.

When I was studying curating, conversations about organising exhibitions were very rare, and we didn't specifically talk about arranging works of art within the gallery space (peers, correct me if I'm wrong). So these days, a curator can do many things. Just like art can be many things.

To me, curation is about putting pieces together. It's about having an idea or a task and finding ways of realising it to achieve a specific impact.


The Meat Market has its purpose. The arrangement of artworks within a space took two days - mostly because not everyone could have come on the same day. But curating this whole project took me 6 months. It was about developing the idea, thinking about reasons for doing it, thinking about the audience, creating the brand identity, visiting artists' studios, sending emails, sending out invitations, deciding on the lighting, deciding on not using artists' bios, writing an exhibition text, preparing labels, checking health & safety regulations (believe me, I went around with one of the technicians and considered how to secure the most dangerous spaces), documenting and sitting in that space almost every day for 4 weeks.

In theory, you don't really need me for an exhibition. You can do all these things by yourself. But sometimes, we look at things from a different perspective and can create opportunities for artists to develop. Sometimes, we put things in a certain context to show connections, to grasp something that is happening in the world and to address it.

Curating an art project is very much like making an artwork - you have a feeling that you need to do something or say something out loud. Then, you look for a specific paint, wood, method or language. We do the same. We look for specific mediums, be it publications, workshops, panel discussions, collections, archives, collaborations, installations, research, or manifestos, and then bring the concept to life.

What can a curator do that you can't? I'd say we are a bridge between the artist and the audience, adding depth and context to the artworks, enhancing the viewer's experience, and often challenging the audience's perception of art.

Everything is happening so fast. Our work is not merely about selection and arrangement but is a creative act in its own right, requiring a vision and a profound understanding of both the art and its audience. But because the modern world changes so fast, our role will keep changing and evolving.

We can think about you (an artist) and me (a curator) as co-creators.


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