In the spirit of #askacurator day 2020, I invite you to ask me questions about my curatorial projects. Here’s some questions that have already come through to get us started:
Questions: When you choose works for the exhibition, what is more important to you: reflection of the work on the topic and the design, or technical execution of the work? What flaws do you forgive?
How important is an artist’s statement? What if the work looks perfect in design and technical qualities but the artist”s statement doesn’t tie it to the topic of the call for entry?M in Europe
If I am engaged to be a juror for an exhibition, then my job is to apply the selection policy of that group or venue. I know some groups prioritise imaginative interpretations of the theme over technical workmanship. Other times, I have seen exhibitions where there is only a loose over-arching theme and works are eligible even if their linkage with the theme is tenuous.
In the absence of any guidelines, I apply the selection criteria that I use for my own exhibitions. That is, I look for works where strong design, meaningful content and and mastery in execution all complement and reinforce each other. If I have set a theme for the exhibition, then the work must address the theme.
As for artist statements, for me they are of secondary importance as I try to I try to make visual decisions visually. To start off with, I look at the images of the work in conjunction with the title of the work and form my own view as to what the work is about. Because I try to showcase a variety of techniques and materials in my touring exhibitions, I will refer to that part of the entry data if I cannot discern this information from the images. I don’t usually refer to artist statements until after I have done my preliminary review and put aside those works with obvious design and workmanship shortcomings.
For more insights into my selection process, see these related posts:
- Vision 2020 Curatorial Insights (2020)
- a matter of time selection process (2016)
- The Living Colour Selection Process (2014)
- Vital Statistics for Beneath the Southern Sky Entries (2012)
Let me know if you have any other curatorial questions!
Art of Curating Presentation
Book me for my live, virtual presentation The Art of Curating:
The art of curating brings three distinct imperatives: to select; to organise; and to look after items in an exhibition. Drawing upon more than 15 years’ experience in exhibition administration, including several popular international touring exhibits, independent curator Brenda Gael Smith reflects on the highlights and challenges of these imperatives providing insights and takeaway tips for both artists and exhibition organisers.