in Curating, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)
Exhibitions as A Stage of Appearance: Of vision and being seen, of listening and being heard
One of the main reasons curating is still a power position is that apprehending and gaining a voice is still considered verbal, not visual. Thus curation gains a power of representation that stands in a “battle of position,” opposing the reproduction of grand narratives and producing emancipatory images instead of conforming to prevailing impressions. Western classical philosophy teaches us to assert presence through labor, work, and action in a constructed logocentric world. The power of images remains neglected and maintained in the hands of few, the ones able to master them and hold dominant narratives.
When I came to run an institution directly accessible on the street level in a northern European capital four years ago, abstract questions gained new light in my daily life. What is the meaning of a public institution being public, and for the people? To whom and for who do we bear accountability, responsibility, and witness: to our funders, to the art community, to our fellow citizens, or the yet-to-be (recognized) citizen of the future? What role do action, the street, and its demands play in the exhibition space? What structures and infrastructures need to change for the people, an abstract category, to pass from the object of curating to the ultimate independent subject of emancipation? Which voices are we continuously forgetting, and how can we create safer and less exclusionary spaces?
In this presentation, I’ll bring witness to grassroots curating speaking from the perspective of a small-sized institution. I’ll share thoughts behind my curatorial work and ignite a discussion about intersectional strategies for representation in the still decisive and arduous white cube.
Antonio Cataldo is an Oslo-based curator and writer. Currently, Antonio is the Artistic Director of Fotogalleriet, a publicly funded institution and the oldest kunsthalle for photography in the Nordic region. Through exhibitions, discursive practices, and academic research, Antonio has actively challenged institutional models and questioned the social role of images in today’s society. Antonio studied with philosopher and iconologist Giorgio Agamben at the Iuav, University of Venice, obtained his MA in 2006, and is pursuing a PhD at ZHdK in Zurich and the University of Reading, the UK. Over the last two decades, Antonio held curatorial and other positions at the OCA, Office for Contemporary Art Norway, La Biennale di Venezia, and Iuav, University of Venice. Antonio serves on the board of directors of Kunsthalles in Norway and the Sandefjord Kunstforening Art Award jury.
Images credit: Photo: Julie Hrncirova