Troubles with Gender and Dispossession in the Exhibition Space
A Circular Movement on Historical Traces
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Curating Labour focuses on radical exhibition practices addressing material conditions rooted in the struggle for “bread-and-butter.” Departing from underrated exhibition projects in Scandinavia, including The Artists’ Situation (UKS, Oslo, 1971) and Work—Don’t Wear Yourself Out! (Oktober, Stockholm; Fotogalleriet, Oslo; and other venues, 1974–78), the book foregrounds revolutionary feminist curatorial approaches. It tackles how highlighting labour in the exhibition space seeks to overturn prescriptive societal structures.
Curating Labour claims soft forms of curating and looks into how to transfer these feminist strategies into today’s curatorial practices. It analyses the work of small- and medium-sized institutions and their alternative knowledge-building practices, and it problematises curating and the co-optation of representation by collecting writings on the non-conformant body as the site of trauma. While art is produced in more places than one—and especially outside the museum and the white cube—curating rests on such an exceptionality of the arts, which permeates society on many levels, beyond its recognised cathedrals. A central claim of the book is that the exhibition space must remain an active public space if we are to overthrow mainstream norms. Following such a view, the curator should dispute hegemonic tools in the aesthetic sphere to propose new aesthetic forms, constantly upholding the yet-unknown and the yet-to-be-accepted as fundamental motors for emancipation.
Antonio Cataldo is a writer, curator, and Artistic Director of Fotogalleriet, the Nordic countries’ oldest kunsthalle dedicated solely to photography as a critical artistic practice. His edited book Conversations on Photography (2021) retraces the waves that gave rise to art photography in Scandinavia through dialogues with notable local and international practitioners. Cataldo obtained a Master of Arts in 2006 under the supervision of philosopher Giorgio Agamben in Venice, Italy. Cataldo sits on the board of the Kunsthalles of Norway and the Sandefjord Kunstforening Art Award jury and is a member of the steering committee of the European Assembly of Contemporary Art Centres. Over the last two decades, Cataldo has held curatorial and other positions at OCA – Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo; La Biennale di Venezia, where he also co-curated the Nordic Pavilion in 2015; and Iuav University of Venice.
PhD Publication Series
The PhD in Practice in Curating, a joint doctoral program of the University of Reading and the Zurich University of the Arts, is led by Prof Dr Dorothee Richter, and supported by swissuniversities.
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