Cultures of the Curatorial

Hito Steyerl, Is a Museum a Factory? Cultures of the Curatorial, Festsaal HGB, 22.-24.01.2010
Thomas Weski, Introduction, Cultures of the Curatorial, Festsaal HGB, 22.-24.01.2010
Nora Sternfeld, What Does the Educational Have to Do With the Curatorial?, Cultures of the Curatorial, Festsaal HGB

The conference „Cultures of the Curatorial“ aims at positioning the Curatorial – a practice which goes decisively beyond the making of exhibitions – within a transdisciplinary and transcultural context and exploring it as a genuine method of generating, mediating and reflecting experience and knowledge. It thus takes into account the current economic, social and political developments within the cultural field under the conditions of globalization, neo-liberalism and post-fordism.

Background to the conference is the observation that in the course of the 20th Century the relations and conditions for the presentation and reception of cultural objects and information have increasingly become a focus of artistic and other cultural practices. Between art and science forms of practice, techniques, formats and aesthetics have emerged which can be subsumed under the notion of the “Curatorial” – not dissimilar to the functions of the concepts of the filmic or the literary. With activities such as organization, compilation, display, presentation, mediation or publication the curatorial encompasses a multitude of different, overlapping and heterogeneously coded tasks and roles. Dealing with them the various participants within the field have developed a broad spectrum of historically, disciplinary, professionally and regionally shaped approaches.

Over the past twenty years the curatorial has then yet again gained in social relevance. Located within the cultural realm it betrays a number of characteristics, which allow for its social and economic importance particularly within the service and information sector. Consequences were in a first instance the competency demands for those working in this realm which have considerably grown in quantity and complexity. The globalizing of exhibiting activities, the continuously growing numbers of visitors connected with it, the increased mobility of people, objects and information, the new relevance of culture for regional economic development as well as the economically oriented restructuring of cultural politics mark some of the most important conditions of this development.

Furthermore the curatorial plays a decisive role within the contemporary de-limitation of the arts, for the changing notion of artistic work and competency as well as for the current social status of artists. In this context it developed model functions for the economic field with respect for example to creative industries, tourist economics and the transition to flexible working conditions. However, in this same context there also developed strategies and techniques unfolding the critical potential of the curatorial to question the social, economic and cultural effects of globalization and neo-liberalism in a specific way.

The conference pursues these various current practices and formats of the curatorial and their societal perspectives. It integrates different artistic and academic disciplines and professions, – visual arts, dance, theater, film and music – which touch, intersect, complement but also compete with one another. Additionally it focuses on the similarities, differences and reciprocities of socially, economically, ethnically, regionally or nationally defined curatorial cultures and inquires about the respective conditions. The aim is to mark the field within which the actual societal relevance of the curatorial as a form of experience, cognition and knowledge emerges with its aesthetic, social and political perspectives.



Beatrice von Bismarck,

Jörn Schafaff,

Thomas Weski


Daniel Birnbaum, Beatrice von Bismarck, Gabriele Brandstetter, Liam Gillick, Hannah Hurtzig, Maria Lind, Monica Narula, Marion von Osten, Dorothee Richter, Irit Rogoff, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Barbara Steiner, Nora Sternfeld, Hito Steyerl, Anton Vidokle, Thomas Weski, Tirdad Zolghadr

Funded By:


Stifterverband der Deutschen Wirtschaft e.V.

Beatrice von Bismarck
Beatrice von Bismarck
Introduction, 22.01.2010
Nora Sternfeld
Nora Sternfeld
What Does the Educational Have to Do With the Curatorial? 22.01.2010
Gabriele Brandstetter
Gabriele Brandstetter
Written on Water. Choreographies of the Curatorial, 23.01.2010



Beatrice von Bismarck, Thomas Weski, Introduction


Nora Sternfeld, What Does the Educational Have to Do With the Curatorial?


Daniel Birnbaum, Making Space: The Meaning of Exhibitions


Irit Rogoff, The Implicated



Hito Steyerl, Is a Museum a Factory?


Gabriele Brandstetter, Written on Water. Choreographies of the Curatorial


Hannah Hurtzig in conversation with Beatrice von Bismarck, Why Curating is Not Always the Best Choice in Getting Stuff Done?


Barbara Steiner, Cultures of Conflict


Tirdad Zolghadr, It‘s Not You It‘s Me. The Making of the UAE Pavilion Venice Biennale 2009


Marion von Osten, Displaying the Absent. Exhibiting Transcultural Modernisms


Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Monica Narula, Raqs Media Collective, To Culture: Curation as an Active Verb



Maria Lind, Notes of the Curatorial


Dorothee Richter, Artists and Curators as Authors – Competitors, Collaborators, or Teamworkers?


Anton Vidokle, Agency of Art in the Absence of Effective Public


Liam Gillick, Wandering the Production Line: Contemporary Art and the Return of Critical Consciousness