Subject: CX4 - Context & Culture 4

Course: Diploma of Visual Art (21885VIC)


Unit of Competency: VPAU014 - Manage creative and professional self
School of IT & Creative Industries, Faculty of Workforce Development, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci | email:
Course Coordinator & Education Manager: Alan Morgans | email:

Class Website -


Class 6 - Curating the analogue and the digital

Role of the Curator

Curator (from Latin cura, care), means manager, overseer.

Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., gallery, museum, or archive) is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections. In Scotland, a curator can also be someone responsible for a child.

Curators tell a story. It is a story that they author with concepts, themes and issues explored by setting the stage with artists' work to tell us the ideas they want to convey.

It has been accused of being a subjective task that is idiosyncratic to each individual curator. But how could it be otherwise? Large cultural institutions and exhibitions such as Documenta and the Venice and Sydney Biennales engage curators because of their theories and ideas - the curator is like a Director of a large stage or screen production. Is the curator sometimes an "Art Star"?

The object of a traditional curator's concern necessarily involves tangible objects of some sort, whether it be inter alia artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections. "Traditional" curatorial fields of curatorship include Ancient Art, Prints and Drawings, Photography etc. More recently, new kinds of curators are emerging: curators of digital data objects, new media, and biocurators.

Curators may generally hold a higher academic degree in their subject, typically a Doctor of Philosophy or a Master's degree in subjects such as history, history of art, archaeology, anthropology, or classics. Curators are also expected to have contributed to their academic field, for example, by delivering public talks, publishing articles or presenting at specialist academic conferences.

In larger institutions, the curator's primary function is as a subject specialist, with the expectation that he or she will conduct original research on objects and guide the organization in its collecting. Such institutions can have multiple curators, each assigned to a specific collecting area (e.g. Curator of Ancient Art, Curator of Prints and Drawings, etc.) and often operating under the direction of a head curator.

The Role of the curator usually includes the following areas of expertise and development:

  • Exhibition planning and logistics
  • Research
  • Developing a theme or rationale
  • Linking ideas together
  • Developing exhibition proposals
  • Organising an appropriate gallery space
  • Organising content
  • Arranging access to artworks/objects and artists
  • Liaising with artists
  • Liaising with private collectors
  • Liaising with other institutions
  • Designing exhibition layouts
  • Construction of exhibition layouts
  • Installation planning
  • Responsibility for public gallery access
  • Developing written components such as exhibition information and catalogue essays
  • developing promotional material and educational programs
  • Conducting and organising exhibition talks
  • Publishing an exhibition catalogue
  • Awareness of politics and censorship issues and classification ratings for content in exhibitions
  • Dealing with audience awareness and complaints
  • Managing shipping and transport
  • Managing Installation
  • Managing exhibition staffing requirements and determining the level of supervision required for artworks
  • Managing insurance for objects/events in exhibitions and public liability insurance for exhibition spaces
  • Awareness of transport concerns - can the audience get to the venue/s?


Watch this video taken from Documenta 12:

Luis Jacob on Documenta 12 curating (MP4 video file)

Documenta 13 website (currently happening), curated by Carolyn Christov Bakargiev

Sydney Biennale


What about the Artist as Curator?

Often, the artist becomes curator out of need. Not everyone is selected to have their work in major galleries or important international exhibitions, so artists become the curators of their own and other's work in their community of practice.

These are some of the things artists are involved in organising exhibitions of their own work whether solo or group exhibitions:

  • get the artists together
  • decide on the works/ theme
  • pick a date/location
  • get the work to the gallery
  • make the flyers and floor sheets/ labels
  • promote the exhibition
  • buy the beer for the opening/ food for the audience
  • make sure the gallery has someone to sit it


Discuss the following questions:

What role does a curator have in terms of choosing the conceptual and thematic elements of an exhibition?

Can the curator be too heavy handed with their involvement in staging an exhibition?

Is a curator just a glorified administrator/facilitator? Why could they be viewed as such?

Why do artists need to work with curators? Can this pose any problems in terms of interpretation/staging of artworks?

Beyond their activities as artists, how is an artist curator different from a curator?

Does this mean that there are strong elements of curatorial activity in contemporary arts practice? Is this a new role that intersects the two?

Can the act of curating be a creative practice?

What do you think about an artist as curator being in an exhibition they have curated? What do you think about an artist run space planning/curating several artists together in the same gallery space as part of compiling their annual calender?

Is this curating or fostering support for the arts community?

With regard to the Pat Brassington exhibition at ACCA last week, was it possible to see the hand of the curator (Juliana Engberg) on the exhibition? In what ways?


What about Digital Curating or curating for digital environments? What are the differences in dealing with the analogue and the digital?

Examine various means of curating an exhibition or presentation of artwork. Look types of curation, everything from "wunderkammern" (cabinets of curiosity), collecting and traditional gallery exhibitions, Duchamp's BoƮte en Valises, Fluxus Fluxkits, to reblogging, Pinterest, Tumblr, and blogs as curation.

Is the difference in working with analogue/digital materials purely a question of technology and the life-cycle of the media? What about the potential audience for digitally curated exhibitions?


Class Activity & Discussion - how will you as a group curate a digital and "virtual" exhibition?

Discuss Assessment Task 2 - view the document here

How to decide upon groups for this assessment task? We can have up to 3 virtual "gallery" spaces in VAS with up to 20 images and 1 video per "gallery". This means 3 separate exhibitions amongst 14 students. We need 3 groups - perhaps with a minimum of 3 people, and maximum of 5 people per group. It would be good to have at least 1 tech savvy person in the group to assist the less tech-savvy with getting their digital images in the right format for upload.

What technologies to use - VAS, QRcodes etc.

How to determine content to show - how will digital representations of analogue artworks work in the virtual environment?

Virtual Art Space -

QR codes -


Class Activity - Blog - how to add a static page to your menu

Create a Page

Add content - galleries, slideshows, other content

Customise your Menu/s




Homework / Readings

Your homework will be to add some content to you blog - a couple of posts, some images perhaps...

Also, start discussing your exhibition with the group - you need to come up with a theme, and select the content fairly quickly.




Luis Jacob on Documenta 12 curating (MP4 video file)

Documenta 13 website (currently happening), curated by Carolyn Christov Bakargiev

Sydney Biennale

Virtual Art Space