[ISEA2011] Paper: Karen Gaskill – Curatorial Cultures: Considering Dynamic Curatorial Practice


The practice of curating is live and temporal. It has shifted dramatically from its anonymous backstage origin within dusty museums to a role at the forefront of modern art, and is responsible for conjuring both a synergy and a dynamic that operates across a multitude of levels. Curation is a rapidly growing practice and discourse that is fundamentally shifting the ways in which we view and receive art.

Much of this shift has been influenced by the works being curated, and with a growing body of works being process-led as opposed to object-based; the practice of curation has had to evolve accordingly. This evolution also encompasses the use of alternative exhibition spaces, a movement away from white-walled galleries, and the historic agendas these imply.

The increased integration of media-related artworks into mainstream art agendas has contributed to this development of the curatorial role, as it has for collectors, gallerists and archivists. Although it can be argued that performative and interactive works have been curated using traditional methods for a long time now, it is really media-practices that are demanding an alternative perspective.

This paper will look at how responsive methods and approaches are called for when curating media-artworks, and how they shift the curatorial role to that of an active practitioner. It will consider curation as praxis; positioning it at a point between what is known and what will be revealed.

It will refer to actual exhibition strategies employed by the author, and look to further discuss how dynamic curatorial approaches can be integrated into mainstream curatorial roles, and how these can subsequently evolve thinking on the presentation and display of contemporary art.

  • Karen Gaskill is an independent curator and researcher based in London, UK, and a Senior Lecturer in Photography and Moving Image at Sheffield Hallam University.Her curatorial practice and research work is concerned with the relationship between the development and curation of contexts, and the subsequent translation of these into exhibition structures. Her work exists in the contexts formed within such infrastructures and questions the role of the curator in evolving interdisciplinary methodologies and responsive strategies that offer new ways of working with, and presenting, art practice. Her recent PhD argued that the role of the curator is that of an active practitioner, and presented alternative structures and approaches to exhibition making that respond to the works being curated. Over the past six years Karen has worked nationally and internationally across independent venues and commercial gallery spaces, and with a broad selection of artists. Recent exhibitions include Constellations at Cornerhouse Gallery, Manchester, co-curated with Michelle Kasprzak, and the co-curation of the FutureEverything Festival 2010 arts programme.  Karen is currently guest curator for a year at Somerset Art Works, developing three new public commissions for the region, due to launch in Spring 2012.

    Full text (PDF) p. 911-916