The Art of Curating in our Global Times

For the very first convening of our annual salon for “slow reading” and “deep looking,” we have consciously chosen curating in our global times as our central focus at what seems a most opportune time.

 On the one hand, we appear to be in the midst of a global proliferation of art exhibitions, biennials and triennials, and alternate or “flexible” museums and digital shows, “temporary” events that amend and supplement the art world’s more longstanding infrastructure of bricks-and-mortar museums, galleries, and auction houses that are in the business of more permanent show-and-tell.

On the other hand, the very word “curating”—and its extension—has also proliferated, with seemingly everyone involved in the act in some fashion or another, as signaled by David Balzer’s tongue-in-cheek analysis in Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else (2014).  

Under such circumstances, along with “star” curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, it is worth reminding ourselves of the etymology of curating. “It comes from the Latin word curare, meaning to take care. In Roman times, it meant to take care of the bathhouses. In medieval times, it designated the priest who cared for souls. Later, in the 18th century, it meant looking after collections of art and artifacts.”[1]  What does it mean to “take care” of art and artifacts?  What does it mean to “take care” as we read about how art and artifacts are cared for?  We have conscientiously intertwined both acts of taking care as we come together as academics and art practitioners to debate curating in our new and ever more interconnected global times.


[1]  See also David Levi Strauss, “The Bias of the World: Curating After Szeemann & Hops.” In Cautionary Tales: Critical Curating, eds. Steven Rand and Heather Kouris. New York: Apexart, 2007, 15-25.



Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja
University of Heidelberg/ Cluster of Excellence, Asia and Europe
Karl Jaspers Centre
Voßstraße 2
69115 Heidelberg
Tel.: +49 (0)6221 54 4322

Dr. Sumathi Ramaswamy
Duke University
226 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708

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Letzte Änderung: 23.05.2018
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