Curating Contemporary Art

This course explores what a contemporary art exhibition can be and offers students the opportunity to work towards presenting an exhibition at SAS. The course will provide an overview of the history of art exhibitions, surveying a range of different projects including biennials, artist and curator-run spaces, performance, public art projects and those that take place outside the institution. Throughout the 8-week course students will be presented with actual artworks as learning tools. 

Taking the stance that a hands-on approach is the best way to explore curating, working with these artworks will form a crucial component of the course. These artworks will be lent by artists who have agreed to contribute them as learning resources to the course. Students will be lead through exercises in which the artworks are analysed and discussed and then ‘played’ with in a workshop in regards to spatial arrangement, contextualisation, juxtaposition, etc. 

The course will also explore the curatorial turn and urge in wider contemporary culture, unpacking some current theories and thinking around taste, selection, and display. Students will become familiar with approaches from visual and material culture studies along with art history and museum studies. The course will include visits to local museums and galleries and a voluntary weekend trip to Yekaterinburg to visit art institutions including The Ural Branch of the National Center for Contemporary Art.

The course will include a section overviewing practical components of exhibition making including self-organising, seeking funding, promotion, installation, and exhibition text writing. In the second half of the course students will individually propose a theoretical exhibition and then co-curate an actual exhibition, working with the artworks provided. The course hopes to encourage the students to develop an ongoing student-led exhibition programme at SAS that could be shared across multiple disciplines for different curatorial purposes.

Henry Davidson:

Henry Davidson is a New Zealand curator based in Berlin, Germany, where he runs a contemporary art project space called Salon Stuttgart: a gallery set within a residential apartment. Henry has worked in public art institutions, commercial galleries, and artist-run spaces. He was the 2015 Artspace Curatorial Assistant, a member of the Auckland gallery Gloria Knight, and the 2013 Dunedin Public Art Gallery Curatorial Intern. He is currently part of developing a new New Zealand contemporary art platform called Town Hall. Henry has a bachelor degree in Theatre Studies and English Literature from the University of Otago, Dunedin and a Master degree in Visual and Material Culture Studies from Massey University, Wellington. He is a regular participant in seminars at the New Centre for Research & Practice. Henry’s interests lie at the intersection of sculpture, film, and performance, in practices and artworks that make use of narrative and storytelling to interrogate collective and personal identities. His curatorial project Salon Stuttgart explores the intimate as a model for exhibition making by inviting artists to create site specific work for a domestic space.