Aspects of the healing art - by Jon Tupper. Published in PAGINA 12 Newspaper

The Canadian curator who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale come to Buenos Aires to present an Exhibition at Espacio Ecléctico. Ken Lum's “Photo-Mirrors” in co-presentation with Julieta Escardó, Luciana Betesh and Hugo Ares. Sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada, The Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown, PEI; and the University of Buenos Aires.

There is no precise way of defining a curator. But you can list some of its functions. In principle, the curators have a responsibility to supervise the artworks in a collection. We are also responsible for conducting research and selecting the works. I have had the opportunity to interview many candidates who are seeking curatorial positions. Many graduates in Art History and degrees in the subject. They had even spent several years researching and writing about art. But usually, I preferred not to hire them. Instead, he preferred those who had gained experience of the practice, because they are more flexible in their way of dealing with things and manage to do the work required. However; there are some institutions that offer real opportunities for those who want to be good healers. For example, in the English-speaking world, which is what I know best, the Royal College of Art in London and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York, offer excellent programs. Some of these graduates; I would hire immediately. Because these two programs offer both theoretical and practical thinking and feature introductions and presentations of the most important international curators.

I spent ten years working in a museum. When the museum began to change, as has happened in many cultural institutions in North America, marketing operating models, and expanding departments devoted to issues of market to the detriment of the curatorial and educational aspects and sections of the museum in relation to these issues. Then; I decided it was time to go. Anyway; I continued my career and the opportunity arose to work as programmer at the Venice Biennale in 2001, where the Canadian Pavilion won the Golden Lion.

Successes and failures

Harald Szeemann, an independent Swiss curator whom I have always admired, was the chief curator of the Venice Biennale. He developed a special theory with an historical curatorial methodology, which he called "From vision to nail”. I like his style of combining genres or historical documents and art objects. I also like how he treats the history of art as something inseparable cross and other types of history. In the beginning this approach was unique, now its outlook became more common. The biennials such as Venice are wrong when they try to present themselves as a kind of inventory of international contemporary art: in fact they are not. But once I clarified the point, consider that the biennial is a wonderful way to see a lot of art in a short period of time. In most biennials, and particularly in the Venice Biennale just ended, have been included many artists who use new media technologies and machines. Moreover in event there is very little time for reflective situation that requires a work of art. This is because you are running from place to place to see works of more than three hundred artists. And very frivolous situations are generated. But also good opportunities arise to meet the most important artists in the world and meet collectors, curators, gallery owners and art dealers. Although I admire the work of Szeemann, I was discouraged when I saw that I had so few women artists participating in the Biennale and as there was little cultural diversity. Keep in mind that was the first biennial of the century. At the same time I was surprised when I learned that the Canadian flag conservatorship had won the prize. I felt that it made no sense, as it has generally not award prizes to artists. But here again is involved the idea of ??national representation and nationalism. I think actually works of art have more to do with the ideas and aesthetics with a geopolitical diversity. But the story that I tell then succeeded regarding the issue of nationalism and the attacks on New York shows that I am still able to make many mistakes.

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