Bias, the “do-gooder” and curating with ignorance
CAS Curating: Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
Laura Thompson, May 2017
This paper firstly examines the bias of the ‘North’ and its ingrained ideologies. Universalist theories including cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism and superdiversity, are drawn upon to illustrate (often well-intended) actions, those of the “do-gooder”. The extent of these actions and ideologies upon the cultural sector are analysed in systems of categorisation, the exhibition environment, the museum sector, the proliferation of biennials, and the economic basis to which all of this is connected. Recognising this expanse, the limits of uniformity and the continuing colonial mindset, I argue that the curator must move beyond a self-asserting role in order to translate and work across borders. Given the increase in global exchange, this paper secondly surveys the contemporaneity. By examining aesthetics, means of art reception and the importance of context, and shifts in artistic practice I aim to demonstrate that existing frameworks are ill-fitting. New frameworks which employ different perspectives, thought and knowledge must override that which is pre-existing and continually referenced. If curating is to respond to cultures, narratives, histories and ideologies which exist, overlap and change within the contemporaneity, then the curator must do this with an awareness of their own ignorance and privilege – engaging other skills, knowledges and ways of being in their process.