Life brought to art – Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist, freelance curator and Co-Director of the Serpentine Gallery, London, reflects on his recent and upcoming collaborative curatorial ventures and the growing (re)turn to “live experiences” in art. In this recent article for the Financial Times, Obrist posits a renewed interest in fostering dialogue through duration within both artistic as well as curatorial practice.

The author is quick to acknowledge historical precedents, noting that “visual art’s engagement with time has a long history, from the Stations of the Cross to Cubism’s exploration of the fourth dimension.” But while “time” may be of the essence, Obrist’s article concludes with a call to arms regarding the current state of curatorial practice. He notes, “it’s important to shape exhibitions as long-duration projects and to consider issues of sustainability and legacy. Fly-in, fly-out curating nearly always produces superficial results; it’s a practice that goes hand in hand with the fashion for applying the word “curating” to everything that involves simply making a choice – radio playlists, hotel decor, even the food stalls in New York’s High Line Park. Making art is not the matter of a moment, and nor is making an exhibition; curating follows art.”

Obrist’s sentiments, the call for a more considered (and sustained) engagement with exhibition making, are not unfounded. At a moment in which MOCA has come under fire for the forced resignation of Chief Curator Paul Schimmel and a series of past (as well as upcoming) exhibitions curated by the likes of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, James Franco, and Mike D of the Beastie Boys, Obrist’s appeal is all the more consequential. While his star status may serve to benefit the cause, his voice perhaps traveling farther than others, Obrist is one of many practitioners to examine the role of the curator today. (For a sustained commitment to questions of curatorial agency, standards of practice, and a continual reconsideration of the role of the curator, see any number of texts by scholar and curator Beatrice von Bismarck.) Moreover, it is worth noting that “long-duration projects” do not guarantee the production of dialogue between “artists and places” or “audiences and exhibitions.” Nor does an extended stay preclude the possibility of “superficial results.”

SOURCE: Hans Ulrich Obrist, “Life Brought to Art,” Financial Times (August 17, 2012). Continue reading at link below: