January 8, 2017

A Year of Conscious Practice: online publication out now

The Physics Room
val smith (detail), 2016. Installation view of Passionate Instincts. Photo: Daegan Wells. Courtesy of The Physics Room.

The Physics Room and Blue Oyster Art Project Space are pleased to announce the launch of A Year of Conscious Practice, an online publication about curating contemporary art produced through the 2015–16 Emerging Curators Programme in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The 2015–16 Emerging Curators Programme was an initiative designed to support the development of critical exhibition practices, facilitated by Melanie Oliver and Chloe Geoghegan and supported by Creative New Zealand’s Sector Development Incentive Fund. The facilitators sought to challenge current models of exhibition making, generate a discursive environment and build relationships through peer mentorship, activity and connectivity. Participants included: Rebecca Boswell, Henry Davidson, Fayen d’Evie, Amelia Hitchcock, Emma Ng, Bridget Reweti, Bridget Riggir, Balamohan Shingade, Taarati Taiaroa, Ane Tonga, Ted Whitaker, and presenters were Tara McDowell, Charlotte Huddleston, Melanie Oliver and Anna-Marie White.

The first part of the Emerging Curators Programme ended in November 2015 with a collective resolve—the twelve participants agreed to sustain “a year of conscious practice.” Participants then worked in groups to present three outcomes: a group exhibition at The Physics Room titled Passionate Instincts (October 8 through November 12, 2016), a one day workshop-hui Reflections and Directions (November 12) and this online publication titled A Year of Conscious Practice out now.

Dedicated to the practitioners in our field who are at the beginning of their careers, A Year of Conscious Practice represents twelve opportunities; twelve spaces for dialogue or reflection—borrowing the basic format of the 12-month calendar year. The editors propose this second alternative “calendar” as a space for reflective, alert and purposeful dialogue that responds to the experiences and challenges of the outcomes-driven, time-poor curator. As most curatorial learning takes place “on the job” in Aotearoa, we have encouraged contributors to draw on recent experiences in the sector and look at ways one can sustain criticality along what can be a difficult career pathway. With contributions from peers as well as more experienced practitioners, speaking from diverse cultural positions and geographical locations, we have sought discussions on a variety of methods and motivations for working in or alongside the field of curating.

Contributors Danny Butt and Vera Mey look at the relationship of practice to theory in essays about curatorial responsibility and hospitality, alongside a discussion and critique on accessibility from former Artspace-Tautai education interns Ioana Gordon-Smith and Louisa Afoa.

Taking a close look at the responsibility of the curator and the institution towards artists, art practice and cultural production in Aotearoa, Tendai John Mutambu and Robyn Maree Pickens discuss their exhibitions at Artspace during their respective curatorial internships. Editor Rebecca Boswell looks at the meaningful social relationships that support our work and a similar ethos is captured in the email correspondence of Laura Preston and Alex Davidson—who, over one working week, embed curatorial discursivity within a daily practice of personal exchange.

New York-based curator Tim Gentles addresses new methods for curating via a critique of the exhibition as the primary mechanism for generating cultural value, whereas editor Balamohan Shingade critically discusses the role of community and community art from his position as a curator working in an arts centre in Howick, Auckland. Editor Chloe Geoghegan interviews Scottish curator Chloe Reith about the fast-paced nature of curatorial practice and possibilities for disruption by employing altered timescales, indeterminacy and ambiguity as new tools for exhibition-making.

Writer and curator Andrea Bell reviews Passionate Instincts, a group exhibition curated by four participants in the Programme. Taarati Taiaroa presents a series of principles on conversational research refers to her time working in collaboration with four fellow Programme participants. Concluding this publication, Bridget Riggir-Cuddy writes an epilogue that reflects on the Programme as well as how an engaged emergent curatorial practice can lead to a constellation of possibilities, meanings and outcomes.

Designed by Son La Pham and Dexter Edwards, each text is also available as a PDF download.


A Year of Conscious Practice: online publication presented by The Physics Room and Blue Oyster Art Project Space

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