The status and significance of objects has changed since the beginning of the 21st century, affected by the course of globalization, the digitization of all areas of life, and the appreciation in value of immaterial work vis-à-vis the production of goods. The way in which things are presented plays a decisive part in, and at the same time is strongly influenced by, this development. Traditional ideas about how things acquire importance as exhibition objects are beginning to break down and be reformulated. Fundamental questions are arising as to the relationship between the various elements of a presentation situation, including not only objects traditionally designated as exhibition pieces, but also display objects, exhibition spaces, discourses, and the various people involved. The question of what can become a “thing” in exhibitions, and when, how, and with what potentialities, stands at the center of this debate.
Three important aspects of the current curatorial discourse overlap and mutually engage one another in this context:
Firstly, the “vessel function,” by which objects in Western culture came to be repositories of meaning and thus a core constituent of the conception of museums. This notion cannot be declared generally valid for non-Western exhibiting practices and institutions. Nor does it hold validity for the curatorial practices of other disciplines, such as theater, dance, or film. Secondly, the material, static thing that is exhibited as a work of art and a cultural object is accompanied by elements of a curatorial situation that in their materiality, manifestation, and meaning are ephemeral, movable, and incomplete.
Thirdly, by taking on an active role in such situations, these things ultimately attain the status of agents.
The conference CURATORIAL THINGS pursues the implications, consequences, and potentialities that arise out of the interleaving of these aspects and their developments. It proceeds from the understanding that, essentially, curatorial practice means the production of constellations. From differing disciplinary, cultural, and institutional perspectives, it examines the power of influence that is attributed to objects as active participants in such constellations.
Concept: Beatrice von Bismarck, Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer, Thomas Weski
Kulturen des Kuratorischen / Cultures of the Curatorial
Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst / Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig