Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art

‘A Book of Burning Matches: Collecting Installation Art Documents’ at Me-Collection, Berlin, 2015

Studio brief

In the contemporary, the distinction between making and showing has been eclipsed. Art has become a matter of public production and the 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 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 discursive 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 you contextualise your 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 tutorials to develop your 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.

Over summer:

You might like to visit the Whitechapel Open exhibition, Carsten Höller at the Hayward Gallery, and Station to Station – a happening with 100 artists curated by artist Doug Aitken.

Outline the 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 one) Lecture/Seminar
  • Week 3: A Short History of Curating (part two) 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

Reading list

  1. David Balzer, Curationism: How Curating Took over the Artworld and Everything Else, Coach House Books, 2014
  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, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2012
  5. Bruce Altshuler: Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions that Made Art History, Volume 1: 1863-1959, Phaidon, London, 2008
  6. Jens Hoffmann (Ed.), Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, Mousse Publishing, London,  2013
  7. Boris Groys, Going Public, Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2011
  8. Brian O’Doherty, Studio and Cube: On the Relationship between where Art is made and Art is displayed, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008
  9. Miwon Kwon, One Place after another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2003

Details

Tutor Nico de Oliveira

Tutor biography

Nico de Oliveira

Course Leader, MA Curating the Contemporary

Nicolas de Oliveira is a writer and curator.

Dissertation Studios

Studio 1: Another India

Harriet McKay

Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry

Christina Paine

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.

Studio 4: What Not to Wear?

Emma Davenport

Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories

Ektoras Arkomanis

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.

Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art

Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: Curating Contemporary Art examines the impact of curatorial practice on art.

Studio 7: Fashioning culture: clothing and the shaping of identity

Dr Lesley Stevenson

Studio 7: Fashioning culture will examine critically the links between fashion, clothing and identity.

Studio 8: Pleasure, Excess and Dirt

Edwina Attlee

Studio 8 explores ideas of category, definition, identification and belonging through the examination of a series of objects and behaviours that appear to be in the wrong place instead of the right place.

Studio 9: The Continuing Lives of Objects

Danielle Hewitt

Studio 9: The Continuing Lives of Objects uses debates about change and preservation explore ideas within architecture.

Studio 10: Critical Theory and Critical Design. Artefacts, Images, Sites, Processes in Graphics and Illustration

Dipti Bhagat with Christopher Emmett

Studio 10 requires deep commitment and completion of critical theory and design for graphic design and illustration.

Studio 12: London Walking

Clare Qualmann

Studio 12: London Walking looks at walking as a mode of creatively appropriating the city, with particular attention to our own city, London.

Studio 14: All in the best possible Taste

Dr John Cross

Studio 14: 'All in the best possible Taste' examines the historical influencers of taste, style and fashion.

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas

Lewis Jones

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling

Jon Baldwin

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences

Jeremy Collins

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.

Studio 19: Material in Motion

Heidi Yeo

Studio 19: Material in Motion will explore why an audience will put time, money and thought into acquiring an object.

Studio 20: Image ethics: Form, meaning and context

Dr Nick Haeffner

Studio 20: Image ethics: Form, meaning and context explores the aesthetics of the image and its role within fantasy, desire and social memory.

Studio 21: The Nonsensical Realm III

Joseph Kohlmaier

Studio 21: The Nonsensical Realm is a cross-disciplinary studio. This year it will engage with the idea of metaphor in art, architecture, design and music.

Studio 22: Meaningful work

Paul Harper

Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.

Studio 23: A Common Thread

Gina Pierce

Studio 23: A Common Thread examines the relationship between textiles and everyday life, including its design, trade, sustainability and more.

Studio 24: Words in Space

David Price

Studio 24: Words in Space reflects on the role that words play in our visual world, performative spaces and the urban environment.

Cass Studios archive by year