Someone once said that the decision of where to direct one’s eyes is the most important decision in photography.
That could apply to all art. Throughout the course of a day, we are exposed to thousands of pieces of content. How do we discern what is important, what is pleasing and relevant? How do we present what matters to us, and focus attention on those aspects that matter?
Curation is more than packaging–it is to help readers [discern] what is important in the world.”
The term “curator” sounds quite pretentious and a bit intimidating, initially—calling to mind over–educated, emaciated gallerists, enrobed in expensive black clothing, ensconced in chilly chamber, mulling over the importance and significance of some piece of questionable ‘art.’
The Internet proves once again to be the great equalizer, impressing “curation” upon each of us, as we all have to select and edit what we take in constantly, sifting through electronic piles of information, art, opinions and lifestyle choices.
A good curator is thinking not just about acquisition and selection, but also contextualizing.”
The contemporary role of a curator is, arguably, as important as that of the artist.
This is good news for those of us who are at odds with painting, or operating a camera, or filling a blank canvas or empty page. With the current avalanche of content, curators are needed to shape, edit, choose, present—to hang the show—if you will. The curator has the opportunity to collaborate with the artist(s) after the fact, to express a different point of view; to educate, emote and offer an alternative perspective informed by their own life story.
The privilege I’ve had as a curator is not just the discovery of new works… but what I’ve discovered about myself and what I can offer in the space of an exhibition—to talk about beauty, to talk about power, to talk about ourselves, and to talk and speak to each other.”
It’s a process not unlike like stringing together a perfect pearl necklace: choosing the pearls that complement and hang well together, that make both the individual and collective elements shine. And the more that pearls are worn, the more that they are in contact with the skin, the more they shine. A successful curation can do the same with multiple viewpoints. It’s an opportunity to take raw pigments and create a unique palette.
Mixing mediums and creating an environment: enchanting, disturbing, provoking, pleasing—it’s a dance of discovery. Looking at shapes, colors, subjects, and thoughtfully placing them like a trail of breadcrumbs, the curator entices the viewer to take a journey.
I’m sure I would have been considered a more significant artist if I was a singer–songwriter. It’s just not the way I roll. I love being a curator and a musicologist. People write me letters and thank me for turning them on to Fred McDowell and Sippie Wallace, and that’s partly my job this time around.”
There is a school of thought that posits that once a piece of art is created, it no longer belongs to the creator, but belongs to the world. Curating on DeviantArt is a rich journey with endless possibilities. Enter a random term in the search engine, filter it by categories or popularity, and build a collection that expresses what speaks to you, that makes you laugh, that makes you angry and that you want the community to see and know. The same images take on entirely different context when grouped differently. The opportunity to reinvent the work over and over again exists. What you see—and how you are seeing it—is important to share.
Ideas are the most valuable thing. Good ones make all the difference; bad ones can hold us back, maybe even destroy us. If we can focus on finding the right ones, helping distill them, and transfer them as quickly as possible, we can get more of that. Curation is that means to the end.”
For me, the best approach to curating galleries is by putting all your initial interpretations about the pictures displayed before you on one side, and allowing the images to first ‘speak’ for themselves, and then to each other. Right away you’ll start noticing interesting themes like, similitude (my favourite), complimentary colors, lines and patterns, a 'common tone' between two or three (or more!) seemingly different photographs—a kind of visual poetry!” In short, and this is going to sound quite ditzy and vague, but I like ‘rhyming photographs.’
- Do you mix photography with painting or illustration, or do you find it discordant to mix genres?
- How many pieces comprise the ‘perfect’ curation? When does it become too much, and risks fatiguing the viewer?
- What is one of your favorite collections on DeviantArt?