Curating the Contemporary: 21st Century Curatorial Ethics and Considerations

ARTH-A340 — Fall 2024

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Faye R. Gleisser
Spruce Hall B111
Days and Times
TuTh 3:00-4:15 pm
Course Description

Art exhibitions and methods of curation have the potential to change not only the history of art, but how we perceive cultural production, politics, and personal relationships. In the art world, as in American society, we are currently seeing a watershed moment of change, activism, protest, and possibility for curation and museums due to the expansion of social justice movements, communication technology, and a growing awareness of the power of representation. In this class, we will not merely study works of art but rather how the evolving, entangled roles of curators, artists, art critics, and scholars have changed the display and making of contemporary art. We will also examine how art museums and exhibitions have long been important and controversial sites of activism, surveillance, and institutional critique. As such, this course examines histroic examples of curatorial practice and exhibitions from the 20th and 21st century and focuses on the behind-the-scenes processes of art acquisition, educational programming, methods of display, publicity, leadership, and funding that shape the ways we come to know contemporary art through its curation today. 

This class includes visits to local museums and galleries, weekly readings, short writing assignments, guest speakers, and a final research project. By the end of the semester, students will complete curatorial research-based change-making projects that can take the form of a formal paper, podcast episode, interview series, open-letter, or an approved alternative research format of the student's choosing.