ISSUE 1 Curatography
One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

At a time when exhibitions have already become an important part of everyday life, it is necessary to know how ideas and messages are perceived, received, and circulated through the practice of curation. Indeed we are living in a culture which has always already been taken care of  in various forms of social institutions. Not only were trade fairs, the prototype of exhibitions, but salons, museums closely tied to the birth of capitalism and cultural governmentality. Today exhibitions, whether they are curated or not, are produced at a great pace. It is high time not only to examine what we have been doing as we curate exhibitions, but also to uncover curation’s history, topology, and traditions. These practices are naturalized and hidden not only in the walls of the white cube, but also inside the black box of the cultural production of everyday life. 

We are all suffering from exhibition amnesia. New exhibitions come and go. We may always visit shows in certain biennials or exhibitions in certain museums, and yet we tend to look at what is in front of us without any memory of the last exhibition in the very same venue. This is the politics of memory, and it has become an indispensable element of the culture of exhibitions. Curation was once recognized as a cure for art’s vulnerability to the depredatations of time, yet the side effect of its proliferation is precisely a loss of memory for what we have curated. This is one of the reasons why exhibitions tend to repeat themselves and constantly fall into a routine. Curatography, or “the writing of curating”, comes to rescue us from forgetting and to attest to the versatility of curatorial intervention. It is important to move forward, yet in this time when exhibitions proliferate, it is also important to step back so that we may know where we are coming from and in which way we can advance. 

In this first issue of Curatography, Elodie Royer and Yoann Gourmel trace the beginnings of modern art through the history of the first modern art museum, MoMA, and the way in which it itself played a role in the fabrication art history, art movements, and global conspiracies. Their exhibition “Les fleurs américaines”, held in Paris and Berlin, and an essay with the same title, employ copies and forgeries of famous Modernist artworks, creating a parody which investigates the value of exhibiting reproductions. Their project further summons the ghosts of Walter Benjamin, Gertrude Stein, Alfred Barr, and others to re-enchant the myth of modern art and its primary geographical sites in Germany, France and the US. Eileen Ramirez meanwhile expresses her concerns on curatorial practice in Southeast Asia, turning to local sites and communities which allow art to self-generate. The curator, according to Ramirez, is a subjective individual, who shapes art and exhibitions by dealing with contingencies and getting her hands dirty, not through the conventional exhibition-making of using white walls as a tabula rasa

Hongjohn Lin’s project is to re-examine theoretical frameworks of curation so as to reveal areas of debate and demonstrate how curation can act as a sort of pharmacology in the production of knowledge. Much attention has already been paid to curation’s philosophical agenda both as a way of studying and providing therapy for our culture. Sometimes it is applied with ignorance, even acting as a poison. By stepping backward, instead of forward, we can see the paths along which we have guided curation and its institutions. Only then may we look ahead, for if curation is to effect poiesis and authentic becoming, a critical vision will be needed.

1 Hans Ulrich Obrist. A Brief History of Curating. Zurich: JPR Ringier, 2011,p. 9.
2 Steven Rand and Heather Kouris. Cautionary Tales: Critical Curating. New York: Apexart, 2007, p. 41.
3 Mary Ann Stainszewski. The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installation at the Museum of Modern Art. Cambridge: MIT press, 1998, pp.25-27.
4 Terry Smith.Thinking Contemporary Curating. New York : International Independent Curating, 2012.
5 Maria Lind, in Jens Hoffmann and Maria Lind “To Show or not to Show,” Mousse Magazine, no. 31, July, 2019, http://moussemagazine.it/jens-hoffmann-maria-lind-2011/
6 Cautionary Tales, 26
7 Boris Groys. Art Power. Cambridge, MIT press, 2008, p.49
8 Jacques Derrida, Dissemination. Translated by Barbara Johnson, London : Athlone Press, 1981, p.169
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Author
Hongjohn Lin is an artist, writer and curator. Graduated from New York University in Arts and Humanities with Ph.D. He has participated in exhibitions including Taipei Biennial(2004), the Manchester Asian Triennial 2008, the Rotterdam Film Festival 2008, and the 2012 Taipei Biennial, Guangzhou Triennial (2015), and China Asia Biennial (2014). Lin was curator of the Taiwan Pavilion Atopia, Venice Biennial 2007, co-curator of 2010 Taipei Biennial (with Tirdad Zolghadr), and numerous curatorial projects such as Taizhong’s The Good Place (2002) and Live Ammo (2012). Lin is serving as Professor at the Taipei National University of the Arts. For the past 10 years, he has been working on project based on George Psalmanazar, A fake Taiwanese in the early Enlightenment. He is interested in transdisciplinary arts, politics of aesthetics, and curating. His writings can be found in Artco magazine, Yishu magazine, international journals, and publications of Art as a Thinking Process (2010), Artistic Research (2012), Experimental Aesthetic(2014), Altering Archive: The Politics of Memory in Sinophone Cinemas and Image Culture (2017). He wrote the Introductions for Chinese edition of Art Power (Boris Groys) and Artificial Hells (Clair Bishop) . His books in Chinese include Poetics of Curating (2018), Beyond the Boundary: Interdisciplinary Arts in Taiwan, Writings on Locality, Curating Subjects: Practices of Contemporary Exhibitions.
Archive
Archive
Issue 1 Curatography
Editorial /​ One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward Hongjohn Lin
What is Curatography? Hongjohn Lin
Les fleurs américaines Yoann Gourmel, Elodie Royer​
There are No Blank Slates Eileen Legaspi Ramirez​
Archive
Issue 1 Curatography
Editorial
Hongjohn Lin
What is Curatography?
Hongjohn Lin
Les fleurs américaines
Yoann Gourmel, Elodie Royer
There are No Blank Slates
Eileen Legaspi Ramirez