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Presentation by Beti Žerovc: When Attitudes Become the Norm

Presentation by Beti Žerovc: “When Attitudes Become the Norm: the contemporary curator and institutional art”  | The 5th International Symposium Curating Exchange  | The Institutional as Public | organized by press to exit project space | 22 23 September, 2016, GEM Club, Skopje, 19.00 – 21.00 h. 

The book “When Attitudes Become the Norm” (published by Archive Books and Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, 2016) is a collection of essays and interviews by art historian and theorist Beti Žerovc on the topic of curatorship in contemporary art. Žerovc examines curatorship in its broader social, political and economic contexts, as well as in relation to the profound changes that have taken place in the art field over the last century. She analyses the curator as a figure who appears, evolves, and participates in the institutionalisation of contemporary art and argues that with the curator institutional art – art designed to fit the art institution’s space and needs – achieves its fullest expression. 

The first part of the book establishes the historical and contextual framework for understanding the phenomenon of curatorship and outlines the range of the contemporary art curator’s powers and activities. In later essays, Žerovc analyses the rapid global spread of curatorship, discusses politicised left-leaning contemporary art as a genre that has developed in explicit connection with curators and art institutions, and questions the possibilities of the social and political objectives attached to exhibitions and other curatorial projects. In the last part of the book, Žerovc investigates the character and ambiguities of the curator as an artist and the curated contemporary art exhibition as an artistic medium, as an event, and as a ritual. She draws comparisons between the contemporary role of art institutions as commissioners and producers of art and the similar role played in the past by the aristocracy and the Church and makes connections between contemporary art events and religious ritual. Her analysis thus seeks to counter the treatment of these aesthetic productions as autonomous creations and to foster a more critical view of the role art institutions play within the broader social system.

Table of Contents:
The Role of the Contemporary Art Curator: A Historical and Critical Analysis 
Joséphin Péladan: A Proto-Curator? 
Interview with Pierre Restany 
Interview with Zoran Kržišnik 
Interview with Harald Szeemann 
Interview with Daniel Buren
Networking, Curatorship and Social Capital
The Curator and the Leftist Politicisation of Contemporary Art
Interview with Charles Esche
Beautiful Freedom
The Exhibition as a Work of Art and the Curator as Its Author
The Exhibition as Artwork, the Curator as Artist: A Comparison with Theatre
Interview with Walter Benjamin
Why Is It Important in the Art Field to Think about Art Events?
Afterword by Mary Anne Staniszewski

The afterword is by the American art theorist Mary Anne Staniszewski, who, among other things, is the author of one of the seminal analyses of the modern contemporary art institution, The Power of Display: A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art (MIT, 1998).

Beti Žerovc is a Slovene art historian and art theorist. She teaches at the Department of Art History at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana. Her areas of research are visual art and the art system since the mid-nineteenth century with a focus on their role in society. In the past fifteen years her research has concentrated on the phenomena of the contemporary art curator, the contemporary art exhibition as a medium, and the changing role of art institutions. 

Published by: Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory (Ljubljana) & Archive Books (Berlin)
IZA Editions
Editor: Urška Jurman
Distribution: Anagram Books & Les presses du réel
Supported by: ERSTE Foundation
ISBN 978-3-943620-39-9 

The event is part of 5th edition of the International Symposium Curating Exchange titled “The Institutional as Public”. 

Curating Exchange is an annual symposium addressing local and regional need for an insightful and qualitative exchange of experience and knowledge in theoretical and artistic research, curatorial practice and education. 

Organized by:
press to exit project space (Skopje)

In partnership with:
GEM Club (Skopje)
MAD Kitchen (Skopje) 
Modesty (Tokyo) 

Supported by:
Ministry of culture of the Republic of Macedonia
City of Skopje
Österreichischen Botschaft Skopje


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