Any autonomy of art is inconceivable without the concealing of labor.
Only after the second world war and under the influence of industrial mass culture does it become apparent that art is not only work but also entails labor, and an overwhelming majority of art histories and philosophical aesthetics dedicated to this ‘post-modernism’ have been decrying this development as art’s infinite lapse, instead of taking it into account as art’s belated materialization as potential force, not only an aesthetic facet but also a social component of contemporary capitalist reproduction. And it is exactly this economic and social leap from modernity into contemporaneity in artistic production , presentation, and distribution, in which the figure of the curator emerges as a new guardian of what is “Art”. p.16 ‘Cultures of the curatorial, Timing on the temporal dimension of exhibiting’
Within the newly established affinities between artistic labor and methods of industrial productions in the 1960s on the one hand, and the simultaneous implications of and identification with artistic practices into the expansion of the service industry of the other, the curators became service contractors just as much as the gallerists became industrialists. Discussing from a Marxian perspective, both began to occupy economic posts that secured the continuing identification of what became of art regardless of its changing attire and mass cultural appearance.
Intellectuals, are the thinkers who identify themselves with a subject endowed with a universal value so as to describe and analyze a situation or a condition from this point of view and to prescribe what ought to be done in order for this subject to realize itself, or at least in order its realization to progress.
The intellectuals still do today; in their fight for justice they still use a universal subject victim as a tool for creating effect, for unifying various elements in society, for -an obviously misguided attempt at- populism.
The curator is faced with a similar problem when attempting to develop a clear political stance through the medium of exhibition making. It is either that he or she unifies and creates connections and links between the various works through some sort of universal subject entailing a victim, or he or of his narrative and thus of the construct of time itself, risking a slide into the non-position and ethical vagueness of “unstuck time”. Of course, this is somewhat of an oversimplification tainted with a generalization, but the challenge of curating within the format of group exhibitions at this particular moment in history presents particular problems that are situated at the borderline between constructions of time, questions regarding the role of intellectuals, political positioning, and artistic autonomy.
In a sense, the question that the curating of contemporary group exhibition poses is: How not to be an intellectual while maintaining some form of universality?
How not to fall into the universal subject-victim and the community of will as a narrative that creates the links and ties between the various artworks and elements of the exhibition
And there is a second part
How not to be an intellectual while maintaining some sort of universality?
How not to fall into the universal subject-victim and the community of will as a narrative that creates the links and ties between the various artworks and elements of the exhibition?
It cannot be the aimless stargazing universality of the intellectual, at least the intellectual as Lyotard describes “they are thinkers who identify themselves with a subject endowed with a universal value so as to describe what ought to be done in order for this subject to realize itself, or at least in order for its realization to progress. p.86-90