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2013/2014  KAN-SOC_VFCO  The age of curating: Contemporary performances of management and organization

English Title
The age of curating: Contemporary performances of management and organization

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Course period Fourth Quarter
Changes in course schedule may occur
Tuesday 13-30-17.00, week 15-21
Tuesday 12-35-17.00, week 22
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Min. participants 45
Study board
Study Board for MSc of Social Science
Course coordinator
  • Timon Beyes - MPP
Administrative contact: Karina Ravn Nielsen, 3815 3782, electives.lpf@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Organization
  • Methodology
Last updated on 23-10-2013
Learning objectives
Both concept- and practice-based, this course is dedicated to exploring, reflecting on and tentatively enacting curatorial work. It aims at
  • Analyze and interpret the current infatuation with curating, its socio-political relevance and the curator as “fabled persona of contemporary art” (Lee, 2011: 194)
  • Identify and describe relevant practices and methods of curatorial performances
  • Enact and reflect upon processes and methods of curatorial practice – vanguard practices of performing today’s work of organizing things and people
The age of curating: Contemporary performances of management and organization:
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Group exam, max. 4 students in the group
Group mini project and group oral exam
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
If the project is written individually the paper must be of max. 10 pages
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Spring Term
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure
Exit administrator and entrepreneur, enter curator? The ‘curatorial turn’ (O’Neill 2010) in today’s globalized art field as well as in the wider sphere of contemporary creative labour has spawned a new and increasingly significant persona and role model. Bluntly put: We live in the age of the curator (Antmen 2006), where ‘to perform’ increasingly seems to mean ‘to curate’. The theories, methods, practices and effects of curating are therefore of utmost interest to scholars and students of (not only) organization and management.
In a narrower sense, curating refers to the practice of placing a selection of works in some kind of exhibition space, which resembles an act of storytelling: It directs the viewer through a collection of things in a particular narrative order (Groys 2008). The etymological roots of ‘to curate’ derive from the latin ‘curare’, meaning to take care of, to attend to, to look after objects. But at least since the 1990s, the role of the (independent) curator of art exhibitions has rapidly gained prominence and influence. Beginning with the landmark figure of the late Swiss curator Harald Szeemann, a veritable star cult has developed – up to the phenomenon of curatorial brand names, which dwarf the names of art critiques or even artists themselves. In a globalized art world, as critics point out, jet-set curators criss-cross the globe to set up exchangeable blockbuster exhibitions or Biennales, which have sprung up on every continent.
Importantly, the rise of aesthetic innovation, creative industries and art management has extended the field of art beyond traditional boundaries of making it and exhibiting it. In a wider sense that the term has recently adopted, curating, in a nutshell, means putting together, encompassing activities and roles formerly distinguished into different spheres of activity and professions. It is relational work of producing connections between artifacts from various sources and people with different backgrounds, a process of assembling materials and actors, which seeks to reorganize meaning and aesthetic experience and inquire into or unsettle conditions of culture and knowledge. Beyond showing, narrating and exhibiting, the labour of curating thus includes further performative and interventionist strategies such as‘enabling, making public, educating, analyzing, criticizing, theorizing, editing, and staging’ (von Bismarck et al. 2012).
We can therefore speak of an expanded organizational practice of curating, which not only produces exhibitions but pervades today’s production of culture. On the front line of a battle for meaning under the conditions of uncertainty and the absence of a single, universally accepted authority, writes sociologist Zygmunt Bauman (1998: 31), the curator has become scapegoat, animator, pusher, inspirer, brother, community maker, someone who makes people work and things happen, who inspires people with ideas, programmes and projects, and who gives them a sort of alphabet for reading what they see but cannot quite decide about.
Teaching methods
The course will consist of (brief) input lectures, text-based discussions (seminars), methodological trainings (workshop) and the students’ hands-on experiments (fieldwork).
Students are thus expected to both engage with theory and carry out their own curatorial mini-projects (in groups). For this, we will welcome guests from the art world who will give input, work with and challenge the students’ curatorial decisions.
Expected literature
Antmen, Ahu. ‘The Critic’s Role in the Age of the Curator’. Paris 2006, http://www.aica-int.org/IMG/pdf/20.061130.AAntmen.pdf
Bauman, Zygmunt, ‘On Art, Death and Postmodernity’. In: Mika Hannula (Ed.), Stopping the Process? Helsinki: 1998.
Beyes, Timon et al. (Eds.) Parcitypate: Art and Urban Space. Zurich 2009.
von Bismarck, Beatrice et al. (Eds.). Cultures of the Curatorial. Berlin/New York 2012.
Groys, Boris. Art Power. Cambridge, Mass. 2008.
Guillet de Monthoux, Pierre. ‘Tryptychs of Curating: Conversations with mothers of the in-between’. In. Heather Höpfl and Monika Kostera (Eds.), Interpreting the Maternal Organization. London: 2003.
Obrist, Hans Ulrich. Everything you always wanted to know about curating. Berlin/New York 2011.
O’Neill, Paul. ‘The Curatorial Turn: From Practice to Discourse’. In: Elena Filipovic et al. (Eds.) The Biennial Reader. Bergen 2010.
O’Neill, Paul. The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s). Cambridge, Mass. 2012.
Rugg, Judith and Michèle Sedgwick (Eds.). Issues in curating contemporary art and performance. Bristol 2007.
Smith, Terry. Thinking Contemporary Curating. New York 2012.
Texte zur Kunst. The Curators. Issue 86, Berlin 2012.
Last updated on 23-10-2013