Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art - From the Wunderkammer to installation art

Studio Outline

In the Contemporary, the distinction between making and showing has been eclipsed. Art has become a matter of public production and experiencing of art, and Curating plays a vital role in these processes. Curating has moved from an activity undertaken by Museum and Gallery professionals towards a creative discipline; in short, artworks and their display are now one and the same thing. According to the Theorist Boris Groys, the rise of Installation art has transformed the public space of the exhibition into a private space, organised by the artist. From Museums, Galleries, Artist-Run Projects and the Web, it is clear that space is now a contested place. Crucial in this respect is the tripartite relationship between artists, curators and the audience.

As these relationships are destabilised they become more productive and lead to significant change, typified in the rise of the artist as curator, and of the curator as artist, two developments, which give further credence to the vital debate around display.

Moreover, the remit of curating has expanded into a discoursive practice that reaches many areas of our lives; from architecture and design, to theatre and social media.

This dissertation studio examines the impact of curatorial practice on art in particular, and aims to help students to contextualize their own practice, and that of others within the field of display. With this in mind, the studio begins by looking at a short history of curating, followed by a close reading of texts on the subject; these sessions will be followed by group discussions and, later, tutorials to develop students’ own topics towards the full dissertation.

This ‘Dissertation Studio’ is designed to help students who are interested in curating as a broad subject, as well as those who wish to contextualise their own practice within the scope of displaying art.

First seven weeks of study

  • Week 1: Introduction to the Subject: What is the role of Curating today?
  • Week 2: A Short History of Curating (part 1) Lecture/Seminar
  • Week 3: A Short History of Curating (part 2) Lecture/Seminar
  • Week 4: First Group Topic Discussions
  • Week 5: Presentation of Key Texts Lecture /Seminar
  • Week 6: Guided Exhibition Visit
  • Week 7: Presentation of Student Topics 

Contact Tutor: Nico De Oliveira


Reading List

  • 1. Lucy Lippard, From Conceptualism to Feminism, Afterall Books, London, 2012
  • 2. Sarah Thornton, Seven Days in the Artworld, Granta Books, London, 2009
  • 3. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Lucy Lippard, A Brief History of Curating, JRP Ringier, Zurich, 2008
  • 4. Paul O’Neill, Curating Subjects, Open Editions, London, 2007
  • 5. Paul O’Neill,The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), MIT Press, Camb. Mass., 2012
  • 6. Bruce Altshuler: Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions that Made Art History, Volume 1: 1863-1959, Phaidon, London, 2008
  • 7. Bruce Altshuler: Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions that Made Art History: 1962-2002, Phaidon, London, 2013
  • 8. Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, Verso, London, 2012
  • 9. Kitty Scott (ed.), Raising Frankenstein, Curatorial Education and its Discontents, Koenig Books, 2011
  • 10. Jens Hoffmann (ed.), Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, Mousse Publishing, London, 2013
  • 11. Boris Groys, Going Public, Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2011
  • 12. Brian O’Doherty, Studio and Cube: On the Relationship between where Art is made and Art is displayed, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008
  • 13. Dorothea von Hantelmann, How to do Things with Art: The Meaning of Art’s Performativity, JRP Ringier, Zurich, 2010