Past as Prologue: Meat Space Curating

About ten years ago I solo-juried a show at the Lawndale Art Center in Houston, an annual "open to all comers" event called The Big Show. Artists bring work to the gallery and it's selected (or not) on the spot; everything not picked is moved out of sight to a large storage room. This is much better than judging from slides because you have more control over the outcome. The fee was decent so I hung around and designed and supervised the installation, in effect turning it into a curated rather than just juried show. The event got mixed reviews; one writer suggested I was using the art as fodder for my own work as an artist; this was incredibly flattering and not 100% wrong (theory omitted for now). I'm posting these installation shots because I'm thinking now about how the web gives us the opportunity to "curate" others' work and have it be "ours" at the same time. As usual, DJs were years ahead of the art world on this issue. 1 For an example of a web-based "mix" of artist's images, see this roughly chronological assortment; not all but most have appeared on this weblog. Some earlier thoughts on DIY web curating are here.

Big Show Installation Shot 1

Big Show Installation Shot 3

Big Show Installation Shot 2

Big Show Installation Shot 4

1. [UPDATE] The issue got an airing in the art world in the '80s with arguments about Christian Leigh's and Collins & Milazzo's "curating as art." But it's been on the back burner, as if everyone collectively decided that having quasi-objective "scholarly" curation was a necessary evil in the all-important personal validation process. DJs didn't have this kind of discussion--in that realm, assembling work you like sidesteps issues of "expert status" and will likely be recognized as an art in itself without a lot of neurotic hand-wringing.

- tom moody 5-16-2004 10:06 pm

Sure is interesting as a new status game in that while some do get annoyed their work being recontexualized out of their control, even while applauding the sanctioned perifery of on-the-street status and control -- the internet enables presumably anyone to become a curator cut and paste anything next to virtually anything. Personally -- I like the idea.
As you put it -- then, is it a question of curator or artist at the healm?
- anonymous (guest) 5-17-2004 10:04 am

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