Even after many museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions had to close their doors and adapt their programme to the new circumstances; the confrontation with our epoch’s long-term social, political and ecological challenges continues. Since curatorial practice has shifted function from the purely aesthetic to the epistemic, which signifies an emerging field for, and possibly of, research, it might offer a site to mediate pressing ecological questions.
This thesis reviews the intersection between contemporary curating, design, art, and environmental activism by linking them to my own experience of curating a group show together with my curatorial team during the Dutch Design Week 2020.
Under the title Curating Gaps, the thesis refers to actively open gaps in rigid systems and provoke discourse while acknowledging the impossibility of reaching a comprehensive endpoint in the ecological discussion and appreciating gaps as elements in an ongoing process.
In a time of ecological collapse and social division, the concept of gaps sounds like something that will drive us further apart. But in these challenging times, it is crucial to promote the value of sharing ideas in the design, art, and curatorial field and to help imagine a shared future by demonstrating that progress is achieved by pooling knowledge. For generations, creative minds have been tackling challenges like climate breakdown and resource depletion in projects with a political, social, and environmental focus. They actively address contemporary challenges using research methods and formulate the knowledge gained in different forms of visual information, various applications and methods.
However, in a much needed moment of collective thinking and reflection, creating connections between these various specialisations, practices and research findings are becoming increasingly important. This thesis considers curatorial practices as an assemblage of diverse knowledge, drawing on different perspectives and approaches to address socio-ecological issues in a multilayered approach. This also goes beyond design and contemporary design and art as a dynamic that deepens and alters existing strategies for listening to, valuing, and synthesizing different types of knowledge and expertise around current ecological issues and related social and political concerns.
By acting as both a platform for collective knowledge and a mode of visual exploration, the curatorial practice has the potential to connect these various fields of visual research and different practices centred on socio-ecological commitment. Moreover, as one of the points of connection to the public audience, the curatoraial practice could offer a cultural-political impact and space for critical thinking around these developments.
Alexandra Martini, Ana Lisa Alperovich, Anna Solal, Barry Llewellyn, Blast Studio, Charlotte Rohde, Claudia Bumb, Cédric Mantel, Crafting plastics! studio, Damien Sayer, Davide Piscitelli, Dutch Design Foundation, Elliot Frydenberg, Elissa Brunato, Fotini Takirdiki, Henry Blume, Jasper Bloem, James Verhille, Johanna Honkomp, Josephine Knoll, Kajsa Melchior, Louise Bègue-Teissier, Maren Möhlenkamp, Mathias Malm, Myriel Milicevic, Oliverio Segura, Orson Oxo Van Beek, Paulo Arraiano, Quinten Mestdagh, Rollo Bryant, Romain Albers, Rosario Talevi, Sandra Groll, Sarah Roseman, Sebastian Guzman Olmos, Simon Cowper, Simone Verkuijlen, Ute Blume, Studio KBB, Vincent Snijders, Yonca Ergen.