Laughter, inframince and cybernetics - Exploring the Curatorial as Creative Act
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This thesis identifies and responds to a contemporary impasse in the curatorial, which is thought of as the realm that encompasses curating as a complex action and interaction; a verb that includes the conceiving, organising and executing of exhibitions as well as critical thinking around curation as a discipline. The current impasse in curation the thesis responds to is caused, on the one hand, through its rapid expansion since the late 1980s and, on the other, through its mainstream and populist appropriation, which confuses understandings of it.
The thesis proposes a strategy for the recovery for curating’s most basic work of ‘taking care’ and situates the curatorial as a creative act. It adopts Duchamp’s inframince as an artistic concept, and uses it as a lens to reveal the role of the speculative, poetic and absurd, the personal and subjective and the instant of emergence of creativity in curatorial practice. This facilitates an essentially diffractive methodology as well as a textual method of ‘an imaginative leap’ through friction, rhythm and repetition, building on Whitehead and Barad, (among others) to connect ideas of non-linearity and relay in (art) history. Opening up this rich meshwork thus allows for a reconnection of the curatorial to its original provenance and connoisseurship. The poetic investigation of an invisible force, the inframince, which is seen as instrumental to the curatorial and meaning making in general, is underpinned by the investigation of two other major, intertwining narratives – laughter and cybernetics. This liberates the inframince’s versatility and makes it potentially an operative tool, following Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of becoming minor and O’Sullivan’s interpretation, within a wider trans-disciplinary framework of art-science collaborations. Through this discussion, the thesis then reaffirms the curatorial (as it is intended here) as a practice that shapes the collaboration between specific human and nonhuman elements: the curator, and the artist (and/or scientist) and texts, artefacts, spaces and time.
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