DefinitionsDefinitions - Tolga Taluy

Feb 02 – 07 2009

This is the first group dialog belonging to “Episode 1” of Season 18. Each week we are discussing a specific topic regarding the evolution of our collective project. The focus on dialog reflects a meeting point for the different voices in our group. In this first episode we begin with a general understanding of curatorial practice, our expectations and how it leads to the creation of this blog as a work-in-progress.

This episode was moderated by Diane Pigeau.

Diane Pigeau
Let’s start with this definition of curatorial practice, in terms of skills and task emphasizing in the work. What is your particularity in this more general position?

Elodie Dufour
I would define the position of a curator as an author. Contemporary art exists through its exhibition and curating can be defined as an introduction inside of the social, political and artistic context of a subjective and visible position. It really depends on each curator which is quite important in the definition. From my example it could be outside of the practice of art.

So your emphasis is more on authorship and subjective position and how to make links to contemporary art, and perception to a certain kind of public…

Not so to the public, inside of the contemporary art, and to introduce into a position the context - social and political and artistic one – which is what interests me. Of course you have to deal with technical ones, but the starting point is really to start with “who am I” inside of this work, from where I stand.

Tolga Taluy
For me curatorial practice is the work of defining the forms and try to give them an accurate meaning within the field of contemporary art or culture, and to make a proposition. Try to find the best way to express it in a space, whether that is physical or virtual, and try to articulate different propositions from different voices, to reach an aim you define at the beginning.

Marianna Hovhannisyan
I think curatorial practice is something complex, connected to the knowledge, experience also the ability of the relation which for me directly deals with the question of the context. As it is something complex, the curator is someone inbetween artists, public, artworks, positions. It is mainly collaborative, many disciplines, aspects to be involved in the work.

Yun In Kim
In my opinion, curatorial practice relates more to a physical activity than the theoretical study. I always think of the curator as an artist, it is not a visual thing, but curator who deals with artistic affairs. Sometimes curators write artistic papers as a critique, but what kind of difference is there between the artist and curator? I would like to say that the curator has an artistic mind, but thinks about responsibilities, possibilities, that require a kind of visibility. This kind of reaction can sometimes be a political thing, sometimes this reaction is just a poetic thing, sometimes it has nothing. I think it is important how to show my material – the artistic affair, how to start their action or reaction and how to make a mutual understanding between art and public, art and curator, art and other, between fields. We always talk about transmission, translation, I think a curator is a kind of translator between art and public.

I think there is a particularity from the field we are coming from, or our previous experiences in the way we see curatorial practices. Do you think it is a particularity of this field to mix disciplines?

Yes, to me multi-disciplinarity can be a specific aspect of the curatorial practice. You can go through different fields, to take a position and express something, but it is more or less as well a question of context. It is a possibility to introduce new way of thinking, hearing outside of your practice, so you can be connected with literature, politics, sociology – so psychology as well.

I believe a curator doesn’t have a specialization – I think the only kind of specialization that could have is methodological, which is subjective in a way. I think the most important thing for me at least is to have a methodology of work and search and how to articulate that. I think this depends on an attitude – subjective – each person has an attitude and with that a certain methodology of work and that’s what makes them potentially interesting then as curators.

In the case of this study program, the group gives a stronger content. But it also depends on each experience, and I would like to add on each character. Find a balance between each individual suggestion and find a way to deal with the collective aim and readability. Otherwise, what is interesting in the program is that we apply in order to improve in a specific framework our skills with emphasis on the collective part, operating like an autonomous studio in an experimental way. It is one of the only schools that have a group under ten people with international backgrounds in terms of curatorial practice and mixed together for a year. There’s a certain kind of challenge to be in this project, because you’re not holding all the cards in your hand when you arrive here, and you only have your background and motivation and expectations that develop with methodology to find your way after that.

How do we deal with this session, and the construction of collective curatorial project around Session / Season 18?

I believe the difference between Session and Season is that we brought up the season to make a proposition. The idea of L’ ecole is to put up a collective project at the end of the year, except this year we had the situation of starting a parallel commission for which we developed six individual propositions, so the idea of the season was to answer both – six individual and collective – which would be the conclusion of the season.

Also this was connected to the notion of TV series, that every year there is a certain group, like a seasonal structure. Session / Season was a reaction as well, to the L’Ecole in a way, to the framework.

The Session is already existing in Magasin, and the Season is just that we decided our framework, so how can we develop this Season concept and the Session 18 realization? I don’t think it is a different structure, just a different point of view to the same.

I think it was a proposition of two different possible spaces, and I like the idea of making a work-in-progress, and as well to be on the limit between story, virtual, real – the idea of so many facets would be a collective representation of the framework. Through that, I can imagine that something collective could appear, that would become autonomous and spontaneous.

Marlène Perronet
The aim of producing a gap between Session and Season was to make us able to look at ourselves from the outside, to take some distance, and build out of this a project that would be readable for someone exterior. Besides fictionalizing it, making it as a TV series was a way to show something folding out, something in process.

To be transparent, not just to show a result, but to show as well the methodology and the work-in-progress we are building together, which would be followed in process by the viewer as through the blog-form possibilities in the internet. It’s a kind of way to show the collective thinking and state of mind don’t arrive like that, without sharing things and to make some own research to put some ingredients in this recipe. Because we are in a group with different backgrounds, in the same space, the education is not just from a hierarchical structure, I think we learn from the others too.

The Season / Session notion is a system to bring the possibilty of “play”, how to experiment with your material – even if it is how to post the front page image or have a collective dialog.

With the blog, it can make a distinction between critical and curatorial positions which will be seen in the making and in the meeting, it’s not a piece of art that you take from your studio and put it in an exhibition, it’s defining a methodology with risk. When this school was founded 22 years ago there was a need for curators in this country, but now the situation is different. Now we are in a more independently oriented curator practice and separated from institutions. There is a kind of gap now, and so this kind of study is interesting to keep in realization to this professional issue.

Apart from the sense there seems to be no support other than the participants, I don’t know if it is possible to teach curatorial practice. To me this program is really the idea of having a framework that gives you the opportunity to meet and work with people. Regarding our situation, which seems to be specific to this year, the idea is that there is no system and that’s a significant part of our working material. So it can be something positive or negative, but it’s up to us. The good news is that you can do whatever you want. But the problem is, we can’t take any positions if there is no relation to something outside of the group, you can’t have a relation all by yourself.

We might have developed a kind of camaraderie in these everyday fights, by saying “I don’t trust the group”…

I believe something will happen and we don’t know what…