Accepted Paper:

Curation as curare: thoughts on curing materials  


Judith Winter (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between curator and materiality. The word curate has its root in the word 'curare' and here I will follow the terms meaning and consider the contemporary relevance of the medieval Latin 'curatus' that translates in our present time with the act of caring.

Paper long abstract:

One way of understanding curating is as a process of nurturing things so that they are able to grow, transform and live. Another quite different understanding is one that fixes things at a particular moment in time. It takes life at its most vibrant and vital and attempts to preserve this or pause its movement. This stasis or inertia can also come out of an act of caring. However, this motionless state very often stultifies; "it sucks out the life of thing" by flattening and smoothing-out the wilding of life. In the first definition there is an impulse to open up the world, whilst in the latter one that seeks to protect through an act of fossilization or petrification. By definition individual curators will have their own perspectives and dispositions; sometimes solicitous and attentive or often over-protective and controlling. Tradition, inheritance or acquired characteristics are important here, but our malleability and willingness to re-cast knowledge through our experiences in the world are also part of the process. With reference to my own curatorial experiences over the last 20 plus years, the paper will attempt to open up a conversation about how we move beyond the materiality of representation and ask how artists, curators and writers across disciplinary divides might use this definition of 'curating as curare' as a way to continually reimagine experiences that are responsive to the material world as it is shaped and formed through changing events.

Panel P019
Art (and anthropology) beyond materiality and representation