Curating Now
Curating Now IMMA 2004: Panel Discussion
left to right: Douglas Fogle, Paolo Colombo and
Kevin Power.
Curating Now
11 - 12 November 2004

The Irish Museum of Modern Art hosted a major symposium on curating contemporary art in public institutions in November 2004. Nine international curators made illustrated presentations on their curatorial practice; they discussed their institutions' policies and practice, including programming, acquisition and purchasing policies as they relate to artist, arts practice and art audience. They also set out the context for their institutions, both nationally and internationally, in terms of inter-institutional relationships and trans-national global trends.

In their professional context of 2004, each speaker spoke about their curatorial practice and how this was integrated into the broader vision of the institution at the time. The following nine international speakers presented the following papers:

Symposium 04
Day One, Thursday 11 November 2006
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The Future of the Museum:
Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist discussed curating in the 21st Century and how this has changed in the last ten years. Using examples of his work in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Obrist reflected on the relationship between the museum and the city, proposing a future model of museums as potential laboratories for experimentation, reflection, change and vital archives for the future. He discussed his ideas of the exhibition as a learning system and a 'Utopia Station'. Hans Ulrich Obrist, presented this paper as curator for Contemporary Art in the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2004)


: Hans Ulrich Obrist was born in Zurich in May 1968. He joined the Serpentine Gallery as Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects in April 2006. Prior to this he was Curator of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (since 2000), as well as curator of museum in progress, Vienna, from (1993-2000). He has curated over 200 exhibitions internationally since 1991, including do it, Take Me, I';m Yours (Serpentine Gallery), Cities on the Move, Live/Life, Nuit Blanche, 1st Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 1, and more recently Uncertain States of America, 1st Moscow Triennale, 2nd Guangzhou Triennale (Canton China), and Lyon Biennale. Hans Ulrich co-curated Il Tempo del Postino with Philippe Parreno for the Manchester International Festival (2007). In the same year, the Van Alen Institute awarded him the New York Prize Senior Fellowship (2007-2008).
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Collecting for A New Museum in Rome:
Paolo Colombo

Illustrating the philosophy of the architect Zaha Hadid, responsible for the new construction of the MAXXI museum in Rome, Colombo outlined the architect's approach, making comparisons with strategies of a curator. Colombo showed how the correct consideration of a space can harmonically integrate object and spectator thus challenging the public perception of the conventional function of a museum. Paolo Colombo presented this paper as Curator of MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle arti del XXI Secolo in Rome (2004).


Profile: Paolo Colombo is currently art advisor to the Istanbul Museum of Modern art. Previously he was Curator of MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle arti del XXI Secolo in Rome). From 1989 to 2000, he was Director of the Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva and in 1999 he curated the 6th Istanbul Biennale. He has curated exhibitions by Juan Muñoz (1991), Nan Goldin (1995), Pipilotti Rist (1996), Gillian Wearing (1998), Kara Walker (2000), Zaha Hadid (2002), Margherita Manzelli (2003) and others.
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More than a Museum: A Genealogy of an Art Centre: Douglas Fogle

Douglas Fogle commented on how the Walker is not a museum, but more comparable to an art centre, calling it a 'safe place for unsafe ideas'. He outlined its core philosophy and mission by referencing Daniel Barker: Art in Action who proposed that the active association of art in every day life could trigger social and economic change. By highlighting the Inter-disciplinary thinking of all Walker's programmes he addressed the significance of the thematic or issue-based exhibition and the importance of supporting the young career of artists. Douglas Fogle presented this paper as curator in the Visual Arts Department of The Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis (2004).

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Douglas Fogle is curator of contemporary art at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Previously curator in the Visual Arts Department Walker Art Center, Minneapolis,(1994-2005). Curated exhibitions include: Painting at the Edge of the World (2001); The Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography 1960-1982 (2003) and solo exhibitions with Catherine Opie (2002) and Julie Mehretu (2003). Most recently he curated: Life on Mars, 55th Carnegie International (2008). His writings have been published in Artforum, Frieze, Flash Art, and Parkett. Other publications include: Painting at the Edge of the World, Walker Art Center (2001); Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting, Walker Art Center (2003); The Last Picture: Show Artists Using Photography 1960-1982 (2003); and Life On Mars (2008)
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Visions and Concerns/ Museum Practice: Fumio Nanjo

Fumio Nanjo discussed how to curate with a museum's concerns and visions. He reflected on his experience as a freelance curator making distinctions between the role and responsibilities of curating with museum's mission: describing it as "a process of bridging art and the experiment of creation to the public". Fumio Nanjo presented this paper as Deputy Director of the Mori Art Museum, Toyko (2004).


Profile: Fumio Nanjo is Director of the Mori Art Museum, Toyko (2006-present). Previously he was commissioner of the Japan Pavilion at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997) and the 1st Taipei Biennale (1998). He served as Director for the Japan Pavilion at EXPO, Hanover (2000), Artistic Co-Director, Yokohama Triennale (2001), and Artistic Director, Singapore Biennale (2006 & 2008). He is also an art critic and lecturer at Keio University in Tokyo. He published From Art to the City: A Record of 15 Years as An Independent Curator, (1997).
Friday 12 November 2004
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John Cage and the Living Museum
Rachael Thomas

Rachael Thomas discussed the tradition of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and outlined the integrated programming at IMMA both from the past and present and for the future. Thomas questioned how institutions can be confronted and challenged by playing with institutional convention. This has become a legitimate and, in many ways, indispensable mode of artistic enquiry. This is especially relevant when one considers the discourse surrounding the nature of the "exhibition". Playing with accepted conventions allows stereotypical forms of reception to be confronted and challenged. It also encourages subjects to be rephrased and thought of anew, to expand the idiom.


Profile: Rachael Thomas is Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Thomas has curated various exhibitions including solo surveys of the American Fluxus and feminist artist Eleanor Antin, Thomas Ruff, Karen Kilimnik, Margherita Manzelli, Sophie Calle and Mark Manders. Curated group shows include the experimental group exhibition all hawaii eNtré;es / luNar reGGae with Philippe Parreno, Anri Sala and Rirkrit Tiravanija. She curated the Irish Pavilion, New Territories, ARCOག, Madrid (2006). Other curated Biennials include the Welsh Pavilion with Cerith Wyn Evans, Biennale di Venezia (2000) and the Lyon Biennale (2008). As a writer, she has published widely in journals and exhibition catalogues. Thomas is currently developing Dublin Contemporary, the first Irish Biennale of which she is Co-founder and Artistic Director.

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Temple/ White Cube/Laboratory: Iwona Blazwick, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK

In the historical context of the White Chapel Art Gallery, Blazwick questioned the convention of exhibition making, the change of display over the last century and how this affects the conditions of spectatorship. She also questioned the agenda behind, funding and programming for cultural institutions and argued for galleries to be relevant in the 21st century; they must take the form of a creative partnership between the curator, producer and spectator. Iwona Blazwick presented this paper as Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2004).

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Profile: Iwona Blazwick is the Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2001-present). Most recently Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Tate Modern, she has also worked as an independent curator in Europe and Japan. Artists she has recently presented include: Liam Gillick (2002); Rodney Graham (2002); Cristina Iglesias (2003); Gerhard Richter (2004); Paul McCarthy (2006) and Annie Ratti (2007). A critic, art historian, lecturer and broadcaster, she has written for Art Monthly, Contemporay; Frieze and Parkett magazines. She created the Contemporary Artists Monographs and Themes and Movements series for Phaidon Press (1996). She is currently Series Editor of Documents of Contemporary Art co-published by Whitechapel Ventures and MIT Press.

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A Strategy for a Contemporary Art Permanent Space in an Art History Museum: Ivo Mesquita

Ivo Mesquita discussed the problem of a 100 year old museum and the struggle to create a museum model for a country and the dilemmas this presents to the curator. He talked through the historical and academic legacy of Pinacoteca museum, and proposed that a more effective presence of artists in the museum was one of the possible solutions in making its programmes revelant to a contemporary Brazlian audience. Ivo Mesquita presented this paper as Curator for Projeto Octógono at Pinacoteca do Estado (2004).


Profile: Ivo Mesquita is Chief Curator for Pinacoteca do Estado in São Paulo, and is visiting professor at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York (1996- present). He was the Researcher, Assistant Curator Fundação Bienal de São Paulo (1980-88). He served as the Artistic Director for the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo (1999-2000) and the Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo (2001-02). Among the various exhibitions curated by Mesquita are: Panorama da Arte Brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo (1995); Stills: works from the Marie Louise Hessel Collection, CCS-Bard College (1997). Mesquita is chief curator for the Bienal de São Paulo (2008).

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A Short Guided Tour of the Reina Sofia: Kevin Power

Commenting on his collaborative work with 14 Latin Curators he questioned how a 'museum's stock' (collections) is not adequately used for research and explored the nature of critical practice within the museum. Looking at the influence of Spanish politics, he highlighted how historisation is not based on the quality of the work but on the racial, cultural or ethnic origin of the artist. Power states this is excluding avant-garde work or modernist work of artists that come from other cultures distinct from Europe. He explained how European Modernism is its own institution, asking who are the voices that legitimise the value of an art work and how can this be made visible to the public. In the face of globalization he concluded by asking what is the role of a cultural institution. Kevin Power presented this paper as Deputy Director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2004).

Profile: Kevin Power holds the Chair of American Literature in the University of Alicante. He was Deputy Director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2002-2004). Curated exhibitions include: While Cuba Waits (Track 16, LA, 1999); Juan Uslé (2003); Julian Schnabel (2004); Chinese Video; Chord Changes in the Megalopolis (2007) and Discursos Narrativos, Malba Buenos Aires (2008). Some of his most recent publications include: The Provocative agonies of faded heroism: Julian Schnabel and William Gaddis, Julian Schnabel: Paintings 1978 - 2003; Kiefer meets Khlebnikov, at Barjac, maybe, Anselm Kiefer, White Cube, London (2005); Jose Bedia; Learning, Living, Feeling amidst cultures, Jose Bedia; Works, Turner Libros, Mexico (2007); Emily Cheng: Abstraction, Cultural Layering and the Transcendent, Emily Cheng, Beijing (2008). As a critic he has written for Flash Art, Frieze, and Arena.
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New Art/ Old Museum: Contemporary Artists Engaging the Encyclopedia: James Rondeau

James Rondeau outlined the state of curatorial affairs from the perspective of working curators in the US. Looking at the changing role of curators as custodians, students and interpreters of art objects, he explained how curators are no longer defined exclusively by their expertise. Rondeau described the role of curator as a facilitator often in a position to invite and empower. He also addressed the relationship between the collection and temporary exhibitions of an encyclopedic museum illustrating successful interventions made by Felix Gonzales Torres, Cindy Sherman, Michael Asher, Marlene Dumas, and Thomas Hirshhorn. James Rondeau presented this paper as Frances and Thomas Dittmer Curator for Contemporary Art at The Art Institute of Chicago (2004).


James Rondeau is Curator and Frances and Thomas Dittmer Chair, Department of Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, He is head of the Department of Contemporary Art at the museum (2004-present). He has organised one-person exhibitions such as: Stan Douglas (2000); Rineke Dijkstra (2001); Steve McQueen (2002); Marlene Dumas (2003); Mark Manders (2003) and Roni Horn (2004). He served as the Co-Commissioner and Co-Curator of the United States Pavilion, 49th Venice Biennale. In addition to feature articles in Sculpture, Frieze, and Parkett magazines, he regularly publishes critical contributions to exhibition catalogues, writing on artists such as Alighiero e Boetti, Sol LeWitt, Gaylen Gerber, Michael Asher and Maureen Gallace.

Discussions Chairs:
Helen O' Donoghue;
Senior Curator of: Education and Community Programmes, IMMA and Catherine Marshall Senior Curator: Collections, IMMA (in 2004)