Continuous Curatorial Conversations aims to enable a community led, user-generated compilation of supplementary histories which appropriately emphasises the oral nature of curatorial practice. The emphasis on the role of conversation within curatorial practice is due to the importance and proportion of time spent engaging with the medium of conversation, not only as the crucial tool within in the curator’s toolkit, but also as a fragile and temporal medium that if not adequately captured, falls away into silence.
The Continuous Curatorial Conversations platform is being developed to operate as a working space dedicated for registered users to upload their own audio files and to create a user profile. As such, due course it is hoped that is works as both a networking and research tool.
As it currently stands, this online platform serves two purposes: to act as an audio archive for a previous doctoral research project by Alexandra Ross, and to create a platform for future user-generated upload and access to the oral history of curating and surrounding critique. It is transitioning into a space dedicated to hosting a multitude of voices and themes generated wider than this initial network.
In due course, this platform shall be a combination of archive and networking space that hopefully presents the audio files in a visually navigable and useful manner. Furthermore, it is hoped that this online platform goes some way towards redressing issues that are embedded in debates around fidelity to the original, context of the recorded conversation and a resistance to transcription and over editing of oral practices. Furthermore, the format of the platform is aimed at creating an arena whereby a greater number of voices can contribute to the oral history of curating, not simply focussing on the views of a revered few Curators, rather, unpacking an expanded notion of the curating.
There is an intention towards minimal or no editing of the audio files in order to remain as close to the real time dynamic of the conversation. Resultantly, the audio is not that which you may expect in the conventional interview format, as many of the conversations have been collated in unusual circumstances, at a time convenient during hectic surrounding events and in some places not ideally suited for archival quality audio recording. It is hoped that rather than detract from the content, it pulls the listener closer to the context of the conversation so as to feel privy to a moment otherwise undocumented. We can debate the question ‘why we should care to document such conversations within this site’. Indeed, that question and its sub-questions lie at the heart of the site. Issues such as, truth-telling, self-editing, the unutterable, self-promotion, the curatorial ego, self-deprecation, and other issues run through the doctoral research that informs this site. CCC had from its conception an intention to think, or rather talk through issues surrounding curatorial practice, and how and why to document them. To be clear, the audio files housed on the site are not interviews, they are conversations around a theme or between individuals on the subject of curatorial practice, whereby there is no agenda or expected outcome.
The artists Barry Baker and William Furlong’s vast Audio Arts cassette based magazine and project is an example of how conversation within artistic practice has been valued, documented and archived. Although not wishing to replicate such a format or methodology, this online space certainly draws from it with admiration. It is proposed that the curatorial community could learn a great deal from adopting practices of engagement that have been adeptly experimented with and utilised by artists for decades.
A constant aspect of this research is rooted in a desire to open up discussion and critique of curatorial practice to encompass a greater breadth of voices. Voices that had thus far been either silenced and thus whose place within the history of curatorial practice has been not been adequately acknowledged, whilst also introducing the emergent curatorial voice to create a more genuine polyphony. At no stage is this research proposing that that status quo of writing on curatorial practice is lacking vigour. On the contrary, continuous curatorial conversations as a project provides a tool and platform through which a supplementary history or histories of curatorial practice can be written. In this alternative stream of histories, issues such as repetition and self-referenciality shall be addressed. Thus far, the majority of extant history surrounding curatorial practice, bearing in mind it is a relatively recent field of increased professionalisation, has been written by a revered few. Currently the predominant language adopted on the Continuous Curatorial Conversations platform is English, but in the longer term, it is hoped that this can be expanded upon.
‘What does a collective voice consist of and in what situations can the individual voice separate itself, and stand apart from the great social narrative’s unison choir?’ (‘Dialogue’, Wildenstein and Kelly, (eds.), 2011: 7).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q Who can contribute?
A Anyone with a interest in the curatorial. Not simply curators talking about curating, but also artists, editors, producers, performers, writers, educators… (This list is intentionally non-exhaustive)
If you would like to join the conversation please contact Alexandra Ross to request sign up details. Also, if you have content you would like to upload, she would be happy to discuss this. In due course, the functionality will allow for remote individual upload.