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Spotlight: Thinking Contemporary Curating

Posted on October 6, 2015

As we prepare to launch Talking Contemporary Curating, we take a look back at ICI’s pioneering history of publishing in the curatorial field. At the turn of the millennium there were no more than a half dozen books on the subject of curating. One of them was ICI’s Words of Wisdom (2001), a compilation of short texts by 60 established professionals as advice to a new generation of curators..

Ten years later, ICI launched the Perspectives in Curating publication series, of which Thinking Contemporary Curating by Terry Smith (2011) was the first. It offered an in-depth analysis of the territory of international curatorial practice and the thinking—or insight—that underpins it, and how today curators take on roles far beyond exhibition making, to include reimagining museums; writing the history of curating; creating discursive platforms and undertaking social or political activism, as well as rethinking spectatorship.

forms and undertaking social or political activism, as well as rethinking spectatorship. The Now Museum panel with Claire Bishop, Terry Smith, Okwui Enwezor, Massimiliano Gioni, and Annie Fletcher.

The catalyst for the publication was The Now Museum conference that ICI produced in collaboration with the CUNY Graduate Center and the New Museum in New York in 2011, which spurred a year-long journey for Smith, during which time he questioned what “curating” is today.

In the two years following the publication of Thinking Contemporary Curating, Smith conducted interviews, discussions, and research involving colleagues in the field, inviting them to respond to the publication. This research took Smith from the US, to Europe, to Japan and beyond, and led to another publication, Talking Contemporary Curating.