Curating and the Educational Turn - Seminar with Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson

free school for art theory and practice

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The June Seminar of the Free School for Art Theory and Practice will be led by Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson.


June 16, 6 p.m. Paul O’Neill public lecture
The Exhibition as an Emergent, Co-productive Medium and Three Principal Categories of Organisation: the Background, the Middle-ground and the Foreground

The group exhibition-form has become the primary site for curatorial experimentation and, as such, represents a relatively new discursive space around artistic practice. Paul O'Neill will describe how a cumulative and expanding exhibition-form can constitute an investigation into how the curatorial role is made manifest, through cohersive and co-operative exhibition-making structures applied through close involvement with artists during all stages of the exhibition production. This lecture will look at how exhibition create spatial relations between different planes of interaction for the viewer, and how three spatial categories of organisation upon which the group exhibitions can represent this in the final exhibition-form.

The seminar and workshop will address the “educational turn” in a way that seeks a critical reconstruction of “the exhibition” and “the school” in curating and discursive practices.

June 17
What was an Exhibition? What was a School?
10 a.m.-12.30 p.m. Session 1 – Presentation: “The critique of exhibition and of school in curating and the educational turn”

This presentation will give a brief historical overview of some of the key developments in the examination of the changing concepts of exhibition and the school as critiqued in recent curatorial debate and practice. Some of the key issues will be orientate around concepts of participation, ritual, citizenship, sociality, relationality, and the discursive. The presentation will take 1 hour approximately and will be followed by a discussion.

1.30-3 p.m. Session 2 – Discussion: “The experience of exhibition. The experience of school”.

In this discussion each participant will be asked to talk about their experience of exhibition viewership and their experience of schooling, and how their experience was structured, organised, displayed. Particular attention will be focussed on the question of self-discipline and the experience of norms of behaviour and how these are encountered in the situation of schooling and the situation of exhibition. The broad goal of this discussion will be to identify the how exhibition and schooling are similar and are different in terms of the shaping of our behaviours and our subjectivities.

3-5 p.m. Session 3 – Three short Case Studies: “unitednationsplaza”, “The Blue House” and “A.C.A.D.E.M.Y”

This session will begin with a short overview of each project and then we will work in groups of 3 to 4 addressing an initial set of questions: (i) How are these projects framed with respect to the question of exhibition and school? (ii) How do these projects differ? (iii) What do these projects hold in common? (iv) What is the significance of location for each project? (v) What kind of publics are being constituted by these projects? However, the workgroups will be encouraged to replace these questions with another agenda, if these questions do not match their interests.
5 p.m. Feedback, Review and plan for Day 2

How does the prescription of a structure to the day shape and limit the dialogues produced?
How does authority, ritual and discipline function in this situation?
Does it matter that “we” have this conversation in “this place” and not another place today?
What should “we” do tomorrow?

June 18
What can an exhibition become? What can a school become?

10 a.m.-12.30 p.m. Session 4 – Presentations by some participants on issues of relevance for them including a presentation by Paul and Mick on educational projects and experiments and various models of curatorial education.

1.30-3.30 p.m. Session 5 – Close reading session

4-5 p.m. Session 6 – Scenario and project development session:
Proposing possible project models and alternative practices in the field of exhibition and schooling.

5 p.m. Informal Review – Drinks/ Walk – Lets do something

How should this workshop be done if it is ever done again?
What should “we” do tomorrow?

To take part in the seminar send an motivational letter in English to until June 1, 2011.

Preparations for the seminar

Reading groups:
May 23, Paul O’Neill: Curatorial Turn. From Practice to Discourse
June 1, Irit Rogoff: Turning
June 6, Dave Beech:Weberian lessons. Art pedagogy and managerialism.

Case Study blog for the seminar:

Dr. Paul O’Neill is an independent curator, artist and writer based in Bristol. Until recently, he was the Great Western Research Alliance (GWR) Research Fellow in Commissioning Contemporary Art with Situations at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Paul has curated or co-curated more than fifty exhibition projects including: We are Grammar, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York (2011); Coalesce: happenstance, SMART, Amsterdam (2009); D.B, Four Gallery, Dublin (2008); Tape Runs Out, Text and Work Gallery, Bournemouth (2007); Intermittent, Gallery for One, Dublin (2007); Making Do, The Lab, Dublin (2007); Our Day Will Come, Zoo Art Fair, London (2006); General Idea: Selected Retrospective, Project, Dublin (2006); Mingle-Mangled, as part of Cork Caucus, Cork (2005); La La Land, Project, Dublin (2005); Coalesce: The Remix, Redux, London (2005); Tonight, Studio Voltaire, London, (2004); Coalesce: With All Due Intent at Model and Niland Art Gallery, Sligo (2004); Are We There Yet ? Glass box , Paris (2000) and Pass ports, ZaÁheta Gallery of Contemporary Art, Warsaw (1998). He is an associated visiting lecturer on the de Appel Curatorial Programme and on the MFA Curating, Goldsmiths, London. His writing has been published in many books, catalogues, journals and magazines and he is a regular contributor to Art Monthly. He is reviews editor for Art and the Public Sphere Journal and on the editorial board of The Exhibitionist and The Journal of Curatorial Studies. He is editor of the curatorial anthology, Curating Subjects (2007), and co-editor of Curating and the Educational Turn with Mick Wilson (2010), both published by de Appel and Open Editions (Amsterdam and London), and Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art (Amsterdam, Vaiz, 2011) edited with Claire Doherty. He is currently working on an authored book with MIT Press, entitled The Culture of Curating, Curating Culture(s), (2012).

Dr. Mick Wilson is Dean of the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (Gradcam), Dublin []. Mick is an artist, writer and educator who has exhibited and published his work widely. Recent published work includes ‘Curatorial Moments and Discursive Turns’ in Paul O’Neill, ed. Curating Subjects (London and Amsterdam, Open Editions and de Appel, 2007); the edited anthology Curating and the Educational Turn, co-edited with Paul O’Neill (London and Amsterdam, Open Editions and de Appel, 2010); ‘Emergence’ (with Paul O’Neill) in Nought to Sixty, (ICA, London, 2008); ‘Invasion of the Kiddyfiddlers’ in Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (The New Press, 2006); and ‘Tricks of Trade and Terms of Art’ in Third Text, Vol. 19 No. 5 (2005).