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Research Process Journal

Education: Curating Contemporary Art


Approaches to Teaching Curating

Thursday 25 July, 2019


I have been teaching this subject of curating contemporary art for the last two years. It is a space, I am very familiar with both as a practitioner and as a lecturer. Since I have taught this class a few times, I feel quite comfortable with the content, in leading the students through various themes, which presents historical discussions around contemporary art and the idea of the contemporary curator. We explore many models of curating contemporary art and try to understand where certain practices have originated from and challenge whether these approaches are still relevant. After teaching this class a few times, my findings are that curating is a process, rather than the role of a person. A curator of contemporary art's  role is wide and varied depending on the context of the exhibition and the resources available. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach drawing from historical examples, literature reflecting on the practice, exhibition visits, guest industry speakers alongside assessment tasks. The individual assessment tasks take students through the process of reviewing and reflecting on an actual exhibition and then researching and developing their own curatorial project into a professional proposal, which is both presented to the class and written up as a planning document and as an catalogue essay. We also focus on using Melbourne as a site for analysis, by using the local contemporary art sector to reflect upon and compare to the international context. As our classes are made up of diverse students, with many different experiences, the students bring their varied cultural experiences to discussions, which creates enriching dialogue on subjects discussed. There has been huge growth in this contemporary art sector linked to the growth of the innovation and creative economies. The history of curating contemporary is still relatively short and literature of the area indicates that it is a sector still trying to define itself.