BLINK Talk - Summary
by Therese Nylén
3.10, 17h, Perfect Wedding
Blink's public discussion took place during the Perfect Wedding festival by Tanzfabrik Berlin in one of Uferstudio's newly renovated dance spaces in Berlin Wedding. This is an area signified by high unemployment rates and a big percentage of migrants, but also an artists' scene growing steadily, here finding refuge from the „lost“ grounds of expensive Prenzlauer Berg and hip Kreuzberg.
Blink takes interest in the topic of curating since that is what we are dealing with when programming Swedish dance in Berlin, which, apart from the discussion around curatorship, is what we have been doing within the Perfect Wedding-festival. To pick up the thread on this topic is for us to work in dialogue and with transparency in order to keep defining and simultaneously expanding our notions on what Blink is and what it could be.
Blink's invited panel consisted of Peter Stamer (Berlin), Heike Albrecht (Berlin) and Christina Molander (Stockholm), all busy within the dance field with activities fitting to the denomination „curating“ or „curatorship“.
Definitions on what these terms imply remained quite fluffy throughout the discussion, although quite some energy was put into defining them. Summing it up, curating seems to be a term in flux, in constant re-negotation and as such is hard to catch a hold of. Curating and hosting bear similar features, whereas etymologically curate has its roots in the latin word „collare“, which has to do with care. A curator decides what is fresh and contemporary by creating a frame for its display, suggests the moderator Kristin Tovson.
In a best case scenario the audience and the panel agreed hosting, caring and programming is what a curator might be achieving, and in a worst one mainly self-publicity. The term curator might by now be dated and to be replaced by another for the dynamics the word used to denominate to be maintained.
Heike Albrecht describes how a change took place around 2000, where the importance of how dancers work on stage, with which body techniques they are busy, with whom they collaborate and the site specificity of the work started to attract attention from other fields of art. The scope grew, and a person programming needed to be up to date with other art fields, architecture, sociological issues and politics – that was the point where Albrecht started using the word curator for herself.
A curator then, is attached to a certain reflective, theoretical attitude, which this person uses to programme various events. According to Peter Stamer, the curator works under specific circumstances such as temporary employment and migrating spatial conditions. From a financial point of view it is somebody with knowledge of the scene who allocates money in the place of e.g. a Politician.
Stamer argues against Blink's initiative to gather opinions pro or contra curatorship and points out how that sort of polemics equals positioning the artists as a power-lacking element, whereas that is not necessarily so. The artists themselves should involve much more in the Politics of their discipline in order to have a say and to take a stand in accordance with their integrity when asked to partake in a curated event.
Ideally, Stamer finds a combination of the curator's own interest mixed with that of the artists in a frame of shared responsibility for the creative process. To speak about a curator-genius is problematic – instead the focus should be on the context and structure of what is being programmed.
Albrecht describes the work of a curator as similar to that of a business-man running his own firm, where apart from a good knowledge of the arts and related themes, financial knowhow is elementary.
Does a curator, then, need education? Yes, people agree, but as Albrecht points out, to keep even steps with the constant flux of the term and organize a politically neutral haven for an educational format is a very difficult - if not impossible – task. Where such initiatives have taken place it is done in the political interest of somebody.
Christina Molander suggests there is no need to call in experts for curation, since some artists themselves are experienced enough to take on that role.
Is that the future, or perhaps the present state of the term? Spread responsibility implying shared curatorship and the artist erasing the invisible line between the expert and the practitioner, making the term curatorship even fluffier, if not even hollow... Why not – let's go!