While the term curation has been used in many areas, both cultural and economic, it is most commonly associated with art. In this context, the role of a curator is to select and interpret materials within a collection. When we impart this sort of filter, do we then invite a censorship of possibilities or do we save ourselves from the tidal wave of information too large to decipher or digest?
Analysts of consumer behavior suggest that choice is a commodity, linked with identity as both affirming the self and othering another. It varies within communities, and though its effect is still not fully understood, it is manipulated to breed a specified consumption of commodities and ideas. As we are asserting identity through the decisions we make, we are not relying solely on our own versions of good and bad. These decisions are filtered through society, family, culture and the need to bend perception in favor of the whole or greater good. Identity becomes the sum of need, what we believe others want, and our perceived place within the whole.
In its persuasiveness, the curation of objects and ideas has obscured the freedom of choice. The elected curators are given more options when approaching a project and are thus handed the job of defining possible relationships between objects and ideas. This is where our liberties are compromised. Rather than cultivate the individual within the group so we can serve as our own filter, it serves our capitalist society better to preach about the benefit of the whole. Therefore, we are unmoved by own limited choices and appreciative of those that act to limit them.
The Culture of Curation is a segmented online group show that works to cultivate freedom in its disclosure of linear choice. In this form, it bears witness to its own limitations and lack of fixity. The work featured in the eight segments do not have any sole definition, but are grouped as they suit our thesis within the given context. In creating an online exhibition, we realized its inherent elasticity. When faced with our own decisions about creating a more straightforward show, which we as gallerists do every month, we elected to create eight individual shows and let the viewer choose a path to follow.
While we are still acting as filter, we are able to pass on the freedom of choice to the viewer, with the added element of play. By choosing from the options laid out in the flow chart, a path is created that leads to one of eight exhibitions making up the complete thesis. While proceeding through the flow chart, the ability to step back and make new choices remains, allowing the freedom to move through the chart in reaction to the parameters set by Cindy Rucker and Brad Silk as curators.
To begin selecting, please follow the links above.
Alan and Michael Fleming play on their identical appearance while exploring geometry, symmetry, the organic, and the inorganic. In Salt Mounds I, the brothers move in stereo in an industrial backdrop, breaking up the stark landscape with their leaning bodies. This is the self at play: a freeze frame depicting how performance can exist in brevity yet still be poignant and light.
Jadranka Kosorcic creates portraits of people she meets through artist's model wanted ads. The aesthetic result is something more vague than specific, therefore relating the portrait more to the artist than to the specific subject. The artist is seeking to highlight the fragility of this confab between the being of the subject and the artist.
Jayson Keeling's photographic works seem to poke at the mutability of identities as a way to subvert our casual constructions related to race, gender norms, and sexuality. In Lamont, we meet an African-American male, scantily clad with a gun in his mouth. While objectified as predator and sexual brute, the artist presents the African-American male as either martyr or victim of self-sabotage.
Amy Elkins' work strives to give humanity to those lost in a bureaucratic system. Her portrait series of death row inmates, Not the Man I Once Was, presents a portrait of a man having thus far served 26 years out of a death row sentence, where the ratio of years spent in prison to years alive determined the level of image loss.
In Will Steacy's series, Down These Mean Streets, the artist travels to impoverished areas to photograph its denizens and surroundings. The artist aims to bring us images that we would not see otherwise as many of us choose to avoid these areas. In highlighting the overlooked, Steacy gives it a voice in the American vernacular.
Similarly, Chris Thorson integrates art objects and found or cast away items to blur the lines of art object, installation, and performance. Her piece Sleepers, is comprised of hand made cigarette butts and bottle caps strewn with real debris, using these seemingly discarded items to transform a formally pristine space.
Michael Johansson's piece Toys'R'Us, features a life size model boat with every piece still in its trappings and sitting afloat in a river. By changing the scale of the toy, he integrates something that usually only exists as an idea of a boat into a real setting. While its oars are bound by sticks and inactive, the boat itself functions as a floating vessel.
In Ashley Zangle's piece Untitled, the artist used a found object that she obscured with wax, paint, and salt to create something familiar, yet totally alien. While also highlighting the overlooked, Zangle reconfigures its perception from discard to art object.
In Eben Goff's Batholith Etchings, he aligns process and imagery with the natural world. In this work, irregularly shaped aluminum plates are routinely inked and passed through the press, and subsequently hewn into smaller and smaller shards. The transparency of the abraded shapes creates a fabric-like buoyancy while the interaction of the imprints of each plate with each other mimic a batholith in form.
Letha Wilson approaches the photograph as a sculptural material and a starting point from which to build new forms. In Sailor's Delight, she presents an extended photograph anchored by a sculptural piece, the flow of which is echoed in the gradient image of the photograph. Wilson expands the gesture and creates a smooth interaction with the form in its composition.
Tessa Windt reinterprets formal abstraction in her sculptural pieces. In Blue Pink Stretcher, she juxtaposes geometry with flowing fabrics, adding the elements of movement, refraction of light, and ethereality. The brilliant blocks of color fold and sway over each other, distancing itself from more formal, rigid Modernism.
Adam Ekberg's Occurrence #2, features a glass of milk sitting on a table in a common kitchen, its contents shooting high into the air. The cause for this disturbance is unseen, therefore its action feels like the effect of an otherworldly interference, noting a swift movement from one existential plane to another.
Paul van den Hout's Mediascapes, pixelates three general landscapes of major armed conflicts: World War I, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. The pixelated image has two functions, one denying the viewer access to the complete image, and the other protecting them from it. Each landscape is constructed of 10 overlaid images collected from contemporary public media and reduced to one hundred colored squares each.
Kirsten Wilkins' photo series, Rapt in the Nameless Reverie, reveals the artist's connection to nostalgia and absence through unpopulated snapshots. While not about geometry, her piece Untitled, presents us with a sight both familiar and new: a single triangle of light sitting on the floor in a childhood home.
George Carr's paintings from the Cosmosis series employ many linear elements, from application of paint to the addition of tape and straps to the surface. His thick coating of layered paint and materials breed a psychedelic swirl of color and pattern. Shown together, this series both create and break the grid.
Anu Vahtra's Untitled (Yellow and Blue) presents its geometry from a single point of perspective. In order to experience the installation, the viewer has to place themselves on a particular point, otherwise the piece is obscured and reads only as disconnected lines.
Yijun Liao portrays the semi-fictional relationship of dominant and submissive figures and her actual relationship with her piece, How to Build a Relationship with Layered Meanings. The experiments played out in her photography are based on her own assumption that, being a woman, she would be the submissive figure in a relationship yet with a younger man she has taken the dominant role. She expresses this role by implementing actions that create absurd poses and interactions.
Tamara and Yoshi Kametani use photography, video, and audio to unveil the story of The Muirhouse, a housing project located outside of Edinburgh UK, in their series Plastic Spoon. Taking the role of anthropologist, the duo documents the lives of the Muirhouse residents by keenly observing how the day-to-day objects and scenery may influence or define their way of living.
David Schoerner creates a very intimate look into his life through Polaroids and photographs of personal emails, friends, and travels. In his piece, August 1, 2006, we are invited to read a personal email, intimate in its brevity.
Fraser Stables has, for a number of years, been documenting the stories and environment of Scott Martinez. Scott's stories are lyrical descriptions of fanciful events from his youth. The videos present these vignettes but also show Scott's current environment, his home in suburban Houston, which points to a more commonplace existence. The veracity of the stories he recounts is neither challenged nor proven; material evidence is often alluded to but not provided.
Roberta Ruocco's series In Your Eyes, presents young girls in full-face make-up, touching upon the ideas of perception, identity and femininity. Her portraits are penetrating — although the subjects are very young, the images are able to capture a complexity of maturity in their expressions. In Binta, 13, we meet a young person on the cusp between woman and girl. By choosing subjects in this stage of adolescence, Ruocco seeks to capture the complexity of female development.
In Re-inhabited Circle Ks, Paho Mann has documented the second lives of the corporate architecture that pepper Middle America. While all of these structures were created to serve identical purposes, once abandoned they serve as host to a multitude of various businesses while maintaining the same footprint.
Robyn Voshardt/Sven Humphrey's video, New & Improved takes us on a journey through index cards onto which reminders and words of encouragement is written. As we struggle to obtain the information that flies by us on the screen, together the cards serve as a visual reminder that we are all a work in progress.
Sal Randolph's piece, Ambience Scores for Public Spaces, transcribes ambient noise from sites of public protest into a screenplay of onomatopoeia. Using a manual typewriter, Randolph creates a record of the sounds of each of these places: the screech of brakes, barks, birds, rustlings — the gathering of which creates a visual cacophony.
Cassie Thornton composes a piece where actions become markings in Physical Audit. Dancers are instructed to accumulate dirt, dust, and grime throughout a bank by touching as many surfaces as possible, then transfer the collection onto paper. As Thornton describes, "the action of touching is that of physical activation … but neither aggressive nor intrusive."
Atsushi Fukunaga's performance, Dance in the Dark, takes place in front of an audience on a dark stage. Mostly robbed of the visual, the viewer is left with sounds and glimpses of the action onstage, leaving the audience to only imagine what has happened and what will happen next.
Byron Westbrook transforms spaces and changes perception through sound and light installations in Interval/Habitat. While the viewer is present during the sound and light intervals the action is acted upon. The electronic hum or flashing lights shift the possibilities of interaction and create moments where interaction seems impossible.
In Anthony Schrag's But you all knew I was kind of a jerk, the artist installed a white, springy fabric several inches above the actual floor of the exhibition space. As the viewer walks through, the piece bends and reshapes, allowing the viewer's action to change its form and create movement and sound.
City Souvenirs is a collaborative effort from Liene Bosquê and Nicole Seisler, which combines their interests in site-responsive work and creating tangible connections between people and place. On walks through various areas, the artists create imprints of signature architectural hallmarks as a tactile way of documenting the experience of a place.
Natacha Clitandre's Notes on a Public Place, 2013 is comprised of 81 different QR codes that lead the viewer to a photograph about the district in Montreal where the installation is located. Under each is a link to a map of the location where the photo was taken, inviting a scavenger hunt for the subject of each photo.
Cindy Rucker is a New York-based gallerist and curator. After working for various Chelsea galleries for 6 years, she opened numberthirtyfive gallery in a small storefront on Essex Street in the Lower East Side, whose exhibitions have been featured in The New York Times, Art in America, Time Out New York, New York and ArtReview Magazine to name a few. After five years and a move to a larger space on Attorney Street, she expanded her focus and opened Cindy Rucker Gallery.
Brad Silk works as Assistant Director at Cindy Rucker Gallery in the NYC. He also works as an Independent Curator and has shown with Temporary Gallery, PS122 Gallery, Porter Mill Gallery, Projekt722, and Art Connects NY. This Summer, Silk will be curating and unveiling the permanent collection for Queens Community House of Queens, NY. In addition to curatorial projects, Brad Silk is also a featured writer on The Discerning Brute blog, where he writes about the role of ethics and sustainability in the art world.