Curatorial Intervention: History and Current Practice, is a critical analysis of the dynamic roles curators play in shaping, mediating and, at times, redefining the artist-audience exchange.
Focusing on contemporary curatorial practice, this work critically examines the ways in which curators impact artists’ intentionality, and how this alters audiences’ experiences of reception. Through discussions with leading artists, curators, and arts administrators, Brett Levine posits a new paradigm for defining and contextualizing curatorial practice, while exploring how the former dialectic of intention and reception is today defined by the triad intention-intervention-reception. After situating the more traditional artist-audience relationship, he explores how extant theories of the art experience fail to either provide for curatorial practice or contextualize its operations while also overlooking questions of transparency, agency, and power.
Offering a new professional and operational model, Curatorial Intervention highlights how the artist-curator and curator-audience relations displace and, at times redefine, the experience of works of art. In response to the disenfranchisement of curatorial practice, and the emergence of every act of discernment being transformed into curating—as little more than a fashionable pastime—the author reasserts the dynamic roles that exist between artist, curator, and audience, and between object, operation, and experience.
Brett M. Levine is a curator, writer, and editor who explores the intersections between intentionality, interventionality, and reception. Formerly the director of Lopdell House Gallery, Auckland, and team leader, collection programs at the Dowse Art Museum, Wellington, Levine’s curatorial projects explore questions of representation, identity, and perception with an emphasis on installation, time-based media, and experimental practices. His writings have appeared in Art New Zealand, Object, Urbis, and Art Papers, as well as in monographs on Brad Buckley, and Ross T. Smith. Levine lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama
Table of contents
Chapter One: The Interventionist Imagination
Chapter Two: Aspects of the Almost Grotesque
Chapter Three: Errata Minimalia
Chapter Four: Reconfiguring Intervention
Chapter Five: The Work is (not) on the Wall
Chapter Six: Intervention Contra Engagement
Chapter Seven: Intervention Today
New Zealand–based curator Brett Levine resists a perceived narrowness in literary theorist Hans Robert Jauss’s reception theory, which sees making meaning as a relationship between maker and receiver (and thus significantly impacted by readers'—or, in the case of art, the audience’s—reception). Levine defines curatorial intervention as curators and institutions filling the void between the two and keen reorienting of experiences with art. Levine extends the parameters of meaning-making and intentionality to renegotiation of the conventions of curating and the roles of participants as part of collaboration. The author considers how curatorial practice and intervention might mediate the relationship between artist and audience and offers examples of such curatorial interventions. For example, commentary on re-installations is followed by evidence of the impact on audience and works, through the recontextualizations and seeking of new connections and interpretations. Drawing on case studies and his experience as gallery director, curator, and scholar, Levine also explores the role of administrative decision-making in curatorial intervention and the related contexts of transparency, agency, and power. Offering critical discussion of the role of curatorial intervention in the triangulation among artist, work, and audience, this volume will interest researchers in museum studies, art historical studies, contemporary art, and reception theory. The book includes a slim bibliography and an index. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals.
Curatorial Intervention is Brett Levine's frank, funny, and above all sceptical account of that newest of contemporary artforms curating. This is maybe the best personal account of the practice of curating that I've read. There are lots of curation courses, lots of how-to manuals, but it's this that any aspiring (or even non-aspiring) curator needs to read.