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Mapping the Contexts of Contemporary Curating: The Visual Arts Exhibitionary Complex

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In cities throughout the world, the Visual Arts Exhibitionary Complex (VAEC) is a constellation of exhibitionary venues that ranges from metropolitan museums to pop-up installations and Internet postings. This article maps VAECs as historical developments, as power hierarchies, and as consisting of distinct but internally dynamic elements that interact with each other constantly. VAECs are the primary contexts in which curating is done today, so this article also presents a series of charts that outline the historical evolution and the current forms of professional categorization within curating: types of exhibition, display formats, curatorial styles, projective publics and modes of collaboration.
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Keywords: activism; art; contemporary; curating; exhibitionary complex; exhibitions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Pittsburgh

Publication date: October 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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