Everything Gallery Girl wants this month is curated. The venerable auction house Sotheby’s holds its sale Contemporary Curated in New York on 7 March, promising an event where ‘Today’s tastemakers share works that inspire them.' One of these esteemed curators is Tamara Mellon, who was once in charge of Jimmy Choo - who could forget the pointy toe stiletto pump Mellon wore to receive her OBE? Tamara recommends Sol Lewitt’s Wall Piece (Sixteen Modules High), 1988, so that’s good enough to go on my wish list, and I was excited to read Mellon’s description of Lewitt’s oeuvre on Sotheby’s website, ‘I never tire of Sol Lewitt’s perfect symmetrical forms that constantly play havoc with my eyes.’ Move over Clem Greenberg!
Art fairs now trumpet their new curated parts as well. It’s Armory week at the moment and over at Armory Modern there’s a whole curated show of women artists. Seventy-three year old Pat Steir will be producing a wall drawing on site. As well as being a painter, Steir was a founding board member of Printed Matter and on the board of Semiotext so her choice screams, ‘thoughtful curating despite surrounding naked commercial context of art fair.’
Art Dubai trumps Steir’s forgotten-but-critically-crucial elderly white lady-vibe of Armory Modern with their invitation to Slavs and Tartars to curate a section called ‘Marker’ which features art spaces from Central Asia. With Vladimir Putin treating Ukraine as just another big pike to be wrestled into submission, preferably while topless, this is all very timely. Perhaps Putin might send round some unofficial muscular chaps who happen to only speak Russian to help proceedings. Personally I fancy the presentation of Stanislav Kharin, in part because he is shown by the splendidly named North Caucasus Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art.
With everybody from chefs to the groundsman of Sydney Cricket Ground now calling themselves a curator it is handy to have a copy of Jens Hoffmann’s newly published Show Time: The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art to hand. Sensation makes it in, but sadly Jens’ own masterpiece Alien Nation which was about aliens, foreigners, heavy-handed metaphors and erm, 'alienation' (see what Jens did there, brilliant!) does not.
I shall use Hoffman’s heavy tome to throw at the next idiot art PR person who babbles on about curated art fairs, curated auctions or ‘curated group shows’ at commercial spaces that are an excuse to flog some stock that is carefully hidden amongst a couple of loaned works from collectors. Because what Gallery Girl really, really wants is real, proper curating, like the stuff done by the great Jan Hoet who passed away at the end of February. Not only did he once allow Jan Fabre to drape columns of a university auditorium in ham, in 1999 he opened the new site of SMAK in Ghent with a boxing match between himself and an American artist. Now, that’s real curatorial commitment. Rest in peace, Mr Hoet.
6 March 2014