Friday, February 26, 2016

Pick and choose

You can tell by their nervous looks and the way their eyes keep flicking side-to-side that curators know that their cultural capital is being seriously eroded. Even in New Zealand we have curators who have to get out there and raise big bucks if they want to do big exhibitions (the no dough, no show policy). That’s a radical change in skills and expectations.  And most institutional curators will also tell you that admin and policy is taking up more and more of their time (looking at you Te Papa). Junior curators, on the other hand, are slowly being reassigned to what is really project management with some writing on the side. 

Now, piling on the pressure, is the recent announcement by MoNA owner/collector David Walsh in Tasmania that he's getting a couple of scientists (evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi and evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller) to curate their next big show. While it's just an extension of the celebrity curator phenomenon (Steve Martin, Madonna, James Franco) with a bit more intellectual heft, it does suggest a future in which anyone can curate for an art institution as long as they have fame or a sexy specialty or ... now here's an idea ... both. 
Image: David Walsh 
COMMENT: Roy Clare 26.02.16: When seeking to adduce evidence of trends in museums/galleries commentators too readily cite David Walsh and MONA. In reality all they show is that if you are a fabulously wealthy owner of a gallery you get to call the shots. Meanwhile the rest of us owe something to our public funders, so we run our places with teams of really great professionals, a clear conscience .... and increasing audiences. 
James Franco at LACMA
Julian Barnes Royal Academy
Peter Greenaway La Louvre
Steve Martin Hammer Museum of Art
Pharrell Williams – Design Exchange
Julian Schnabel – LACMA
Cameron Silver – MOCA Pacific Design Center
Crowd sourced exhibitions - Everywhere

......   It's a thing.