_the curatorial complex

social dimensions of knowledge production

Wilhelm Fink, Paderborn.
1. Aufl. 2018, 264 Seiten, 4 s/w Abb., 32 farb. Abb., kart.
ISBN: 978-3-7705-6312-8
Book: EUR 59.00
E-Book: EUR 47.99



This book explores whether and in what ways curatorial practices assume a social function. By analyzing how artistic and curatorial practices can activate processes and generate structures that facilitate dialogical spaces of negotiation between curators, artists and their publics, this book argues for an intrinsic social dimension to forms of knowledge production in the curated encounter.

Point of departure  are the following examples of curatorial practices: (1) Michael Fullerton’s exhibition Columbia (2010), Chisenhale Gallery, London; (2) The Potosí Principle (2010), HKW, Berlin; (3) Unitednationsplaza (2006-2007), a discursive art project organised by Anton Vidokle; (4) Former West (2008-2016), a multidimensional art research project coordinated by BAK, Utrecht.

These examples are discussed on the backdrop of the continuous dematerialization of practices in the expanded field of the curatorial. Rather than furthering the construction of an opposition between the “curatorial” and curating as exhibition-making, this books elaborates on the differences of exhibitionary, discursive, and performative forms of engagement arguing for a diversification of the exhibition as a medium of practice, not its dismissal. A central claim of  my work is to perceive the exhibition as a space of action for public engagement beyond spectatorship and the production of sociality beyond hosting relations.

Contextualised by a discussion of terminologies in social theory, such as communication, practice and sociality, this book argues for a model of practice applicable to curating that operates self-reflexively with regard to the social, political and cultural conditions it is formed by. I argues against an understanding of curatorial practices as a form of exhibiting and collecting the views and values belonging to a particular society, but claim a notion of practice that fosters the creation of sociality as an embodied form of knowledge production whose material quality is as important as its discursive capacity for emergence and enquiry.


This book was printed with support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Düsseldorf, Germany.