I have a campaign going to challenge the hegemony of academic/museum curation which I believe is unhealthy and un-conducive to the democratisation of culture and the creation of new audiences for art.
If we were to turn the current 'curatorial' situation on its head - where most curators are academics/ gallerists or museum emplyees and look at say, the literary or academic world through the lens of visual artists – how would that pan out?
Visual artists would run all the publishing companies, they would people the boards of literary prizes and academic awards. Visual artists would review all new publications in newspapers and online and ‘curate’ all essay & short story collections. Their visual interpretations of literary conceits would dominate publishing decisions and critical responses. Unlucky for any writer whose book may not be ‘visual’ enough and very unlucky indeed for the academic whose recourse to visuals may not relate to their field of expertise.
Still, altered books, books sculptures and artists’ books would do well. Artists would have a lot of funding available to run conferences where all powerpoints presentations have minimal text but would include mixed media workshops and performances. Book covers would be strikingly avant-garde and multi-dimensional – all text would be judged on font aesthetic rather than boring old literary meaning. Damian Hirst would edit the next Oxford dictionary and Slinkachoo would ‘write’ a trilogy covering the life and times of Will Self using as few words as possible and in miniature format. There would be a movement for the dismissal of phonetic language and a return to pictograms….
This may appear facetious and strange, but for many artists and artist curators having an academic, a museum expert or an art critic, make decisions about which visual artists get seen by the public and in what contexts, is equally bizarre, invasive and inappropriate.
Fion Gunn is a London based visual artist with an international multi-media practice.