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Research Process Journal


Why Curating Art Cities?

Curating Art Cities is my research journal concerning the relationship between contemporary art practices and globalising cities and how this relationship is complex and constantly in transition.

My research is trans-disciplinary, focused on the intersection between urban and spatial theory, urban futures and how artists engage this through public and socially engaged contemporary art practices. My research focuses on the right to city and how access to culture can encourage this right. 

Cities are fascinating places, where diverse communities congregate, each with their own narratives related to place, time and situation. I am an artist, curator and academic researcher focused on the study of cities, our urban futures and it's relationship to art, artists and curation. I currently teach Curating Contemporary Art and Expanded Curating at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. 

This site's framework brings together my interests in art in the urban public sphere and explores approaches and thinking informing my research. Through the experience of working as an artist, curator and arts manager focused on the curation of programs which dealt with urban arts cultural histories and contemporary art practices, I became focused on the relationship between cities, art, local narratives, globalisation and local communities. I believe the arts have an important role to play in the future development of global cities, as a tool to navigate increasingly super-diverse urban communities, with the potential to encourage active citizenship, engagement and inclusivity. 

The City as a Curated Space

I embarked on a PhD focusing on The City as a Curated Space (2008-11) at RMIT University. My proposition for my research was the curation of the city as a methodology for an alternative, yet parallel model of exhibition practices to the traditional museology, which allows a wider audience to engage in their urban environments. My study looked locally at central Sydney and Melbourne, at the way cities in Australia are curated and made comparisons to international case studies of San Francisco, Shanghai and Sile, Istanbul. What emerged from my study was that each city has differing voices and approaches in relation to the way the city was curated, a result of the history of practices, relationships and the politics between a community of artists, the broader community and local urban governance. 

This website is a way for me to continue my research by continuing to reflect on urban approaches to art, curation of projects, urban based artworks, practice based research projects and the role of contemporary art in globalising cities. 

Continuing Curated City Research Projects

Over the years I have embarked on research in Sydney, San Francisco, Istanbul, Shanghai & Suzhou, China and in the suburbs Glenroy and Broadmeadows in Melbourne and St Andrews as part of Melbourne's green wedges. As my research continues I am constantly refining my methods of in the pursuit of understanding local communities in the global context. During my PhD research, the focus of my work was on the development of case studies relating to the particular geographic regions such as central Melbourne and central Sydney, using literature relating to urban history, geography, contemporary public art practices and urban policy and planning to unearth the genealogy of practices in relation to curating these urban areas. As my research progressed, I came to understand that the site analysis only formed a part of my research process, later evolving to become a site analysis of place which informs an action based curated project, which was discussed in the minor case studies of Shanghai and Istanbul. Currently I focus on a site analysis informing an action based curated project which is reflected upon through a written account of the project and the findings of that process. 

Lumens Festival: Curating the Ancient City, pictured at the top, was a research project implemented in the city of Suzhou, China in 2012. The project researched the role of contemporary art in a city with heritage infrastructure at the central core. The lime washed canals of Suzhou have formed the identity of the city for thousands of years, linking the city to the history of the silk trade beginning thousands of years ago in the region. The project looked at how the curation of digitally based photography and video could be presented in the city bridging the ancient heritage with cross cultural dialogue between it's sister state Victoria, Australia and Jiangsu, China where Suzhou is located. 

My research involves a study of urban conditions of a specific site and city and the development and implementation of projects considering the place and community, which leads to a reflection and analysis leading to new knowledge on the idea of curating art cities. For this project, I was inspired by the unique heritage canals of the city, as a meaningful site for engagement and how the local character of each urban space has the potential to inform a curatorial engagement with urban spaces and communities. The image above is from the project Flavours of Glenroy (2014-6) where a project was developed in partnership with various local communities to navigate and explore the cultural diversity of the neighbourhood. 

I created a word cloud of words I frequently use when discussing my research to give me an indication of ideas I am most interested in. As my research is transdisciplinary, it draws from many areas of artistic, social and cultural research.

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