‘Artist as Curator’ Symposium: ‘When Exhibitions Become Form: A Brief History of the Artist as Curator’

Elena Filipovic

Videos / 28.01.2013
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Video documentation of the Afterall ‘Artist as Curator’ symposium. Introduction by Pablo Lafuente, Series Editor, Afterall Exhibition Histories, followed by keynote by Elena Filipovic.

The history of art, since its beginnings, has been constructed as a discipline on the analysis of individual artist-geniuses and their autonomous objects and images, periodised chronologically and divided stylistically. To write the history of exhibitions made by artists would, it seems, demand another model, so much have artist-curated exhibitions troubled our understanding of notions like 'autonomy', 'authorship', 'artwork', 'artistic oeuvre' or even 'exhibition' – precisely the terms on which art history has been built. This might explain why such a history has not already been written, for our theoretical and historical notions of that thing we call an 'exhibition' have been transformed in the twentieth century under the influence of artists from Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein to Martha Rosler and David Hammons. This keynote looks at a few examples, but its attempt to discuss how, when and why exhibitions might have 'become form' is less about constructing a history where there has not been one (although it also endeavours to understand what the terms of that history could be) and more about beginning to imagine the appropriate language, tools and typologies for looking at and talking about how a certain kind of exhibition-making advanced by artists can be thought today.

– Elena Filipovic, abstract, ‘When Exhibitions Become Form: A Brief History of the Artist as Curator’

Elena Filipovic is a writer, art historian and curator at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels. She co-curated the 5th Berlin Biennial (2008) with Adam Szymczyk, and co-edited The Biennial Reader: Anthology on Large-Scale Perennial Exhibitions of Contemporary Art (2010), with Marieke van Hal and Solveig Øvstebø. She has curated a number of touring retrospectives and solo exhibitions of artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Alina Szapocznikow, Leigh Ledare, Klara Lidén, Lorna Macintyre and Melvin Moti. Her writings have appeared in numerous artist's catalogues as well as in Afterall, frieze, Kaleidoscope and Mousse. She is currently at work on an edited collection of essays on the history of the artist as curator.