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Curare: to care, to curate. A relational ethic of care in curatorial practice

Fisher, Sibyl Annice (2013) Curare: to care, to curate. A relational ethic of care in curatorial practice. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The central question that this thesis addresses is curatorial practice as an ethical practice, a practice of care. In the field of contemporary art and curatorial studies, the connection between curating and care is predominantly considered significant only in terms of the history of the curatorial care of collections, inscribed etymologically in the word ‘curator’ which derives from the Latin ‘cura’, which means ‘care’. Historical and discursive shifts in the later twentieth century have resulted in a situation where other affinities between care and curating are now almost entirely in eclipse. The thesis aims to re-establish the embeddedness of care in curatorial practice by posing the question of a specifically curatorial sense of care and responsibility for the ‘other’ in a relational, ethical sense. This is elaborated through two case studies, which have been selected for their relational conceptualisations, and engagement with a feminist and Indigenous/postcolonial politics of avoiding marginalisation and repression. My reading begins from the understanding that the ethical interweaves in several ways with the political and the aesthetic, as set out in Chapter One and Chapter Two. Part One presents the first case study, the curatorial practice of Catherine de Zegher and the exhibition Inside the Visible (1996). Chapter Three explores the development of de Zegher’s practice over the span of her career, and Inside the Visible through the archive, which is read for patterns of responsibility and acts of care. Chapter Four considers the exhibition as a widely-recognised feminist intervention, which may function as an instance of curatorial ethicality if it is not further subjected to contemporary repression in the literature. Part Two presents the second case study, the curatorial practice of Brenda L Croft and the co-curators of fluent in the Australian Pavilion at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997). Chapter Five maps the development of Croft’s practice, and through a reading of the archive presents fluent as a demonstrably effective intervention into the globalised art world. In this chapter, responsibility and care are also framed broadly in relation to a specifically Indigenous conception of shared values, which is largely characterised in terms of relationality. Chapter Six considers the significance of Indigenous women’s participation in Venice, and the precarity of fluent’s position in the recent discourse on contemporaneity. Its almost total neglect in the literature threatens the exhibition’s efficacy, which against the wider repression of the relationality of Indigenous cultural practices has arguably destructive effects. Finally, the Conclusion reflects on the research process and the way of reading developed in the thesis. Across the case studies, a distinctive ethos of care is detectable in relational practices of responsibility strategised and enacted by curators, and in their sensitivity to relationality on multiple levels. These modes of practice are argued to re-inscribe an ethical concept of care in the fabric of curatorial practice. It is hoped that the thesis presents a framework through which to read and learn from these curatorial instances of care, signalling one potential way to break the cycle of repression and marginalisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-824-4
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2014 13:49
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 00:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6867

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