Curatorial Dictionary

Curatorial Dictionary is an ongoing, long-term, collaborative research project that examines how curatorial discourse is used and understood in relation, and often in opposition, to curatorial practice. The project is also an attempt to complicate international, mostly Anglophone, curatorial discourses through looking at localized art and curatorial practices as case studies.

During its first phase, the Curatorial Dictionary endeavored in the open-access, online, Hungarian and English language dictionary to interpret some of the most frequently used but barely clear-cut concepts of international curatorial discourse. The terms were selected and formulated by the dictionary working group through a series of discussions, followed by a collective editing process. In the initial phases Paul O’Neill also contributed as an advisor/respondent. Several of the defined terms, such as the “white cube,” or the “educational turn,” have never been translated into Hungarian before; hence, the dictionary also contains suggestions for the Hungarian equivalents of the English terms. It was launched and presented with a two-day exhibition in December 2013 at in Budapest. The exhibition featured an installation of six video interviews. The interviews were made with individuals working in the contemporary art field in Hungary and Eastern Europe, who reflected through their own projects on some of the concepts and the framework of the dictionary.

Compiling and publishing case studies marked the beginning of the project’s second phase. These exhibition and project examples from the last 20-25 years endeavored to expand—based on interpretations from a local perspective—the meaning of the concepts already delineated in the dictionary. The majority of the texts were case studies selected and written by the dictionary working group members which, drawing on art practices in Hungary, include reflections on international curatorial and contemporary art discourse, or instances that sometimes diverge from the terms’ dominant understanding.

In March 2015, we put forth in the framework of’s Free School for Art Theory and Practice to explore curatorial and art practices in the region loosely defined as Eastern Europe as well as to examine their (cor)relations in the “East” and “West” of Europe. As a first step in this research endeavor, two of the Free School’s invited participants, Saša Nabergoj and Emily Pethick, through presenting a project realized in Ljubljana and one in London, (re-)interpret in their texts the concept of the curatorial based on their own, local contexts. The Free School’s third invited participant, Magda Radu, proposed the term funding through looking at familiar international processes, while also giving insights into the Bucharest art scene.

The Curatorial Dictionary was featured as a participating project in the exhibition

Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, Museum as Hub Project, New Museum, New York, curated by (Vít Havránek, Dóra Hegyi, Georg Schöllhammer), January 22 – April 13, 2014


ARTONAUTICS, An exhibition by in the framework of THERE IS NO MEANING IF MEANING IS NOT SHARED, Gdansk City Gallery, Poland, curated by, Vít Havránek, Dóra Hegyi, and Georg Schöllhammer, and organized by Patrycja Ryłko, July 25 – September 14, 2014

as well as a series of essays in

Paul O’Neill & Mick Wilson (Eds.) Curating Research. London: Open Editions, Amsterdam: de Appel, 2014.

Project working group members are artist Balázs Beöthy, curator Nikolett Erőss, ethnographer Zsófia Frazon, curator Eszter Lázár, and curator Eszter Szakács (

Edited by Eszter Szakács, curator (

Design by Imre Lepsényi

Thanks to all who contributed to and supported the project: Dóra Hegyi, Anne Szefer Karlsen, Edit Molnár, Paul O'Neill, Pavel Sterec, Hajnalka Somogyi, Emese Süvecz, János Szoboszlai, and Mick Wilson.

Project website of the Curatorial Dictionary

External Links
Project website of the Curatorial Dictionary