Many have debated on the etymology of the word "curating", with Harald Szeemann providing a long list of tasks for the exhibition organizer: administrator, emphatic lover, writer of forewords, librarian, representative, bookkeeper, entertainer, financial advisor and diplomat—but it ultimately boils down to "selecting". That is, deciding what practices are more precisely addressing the topics one wants to discuss, among many other works and artists that might be equally interesting. Curating is exclusive as much as it is inclusive, because as you select you exclude by necessity many other possibilities that might be equally strong and interesting. That is the difficult task, and in order to be fair you have to try and be as comprehensive in the research process as rigorous when the time comes to make the selection.
After a three-year long process of traveling to more than thirty countries in five continents, and much heated discussion, the curatorial team of Philagrafika selected the artists that will make part of the core show of Philagrafika 2010, titled The Graphic Unconscious. Many more will be participating in parallel shows that are currently being organized by more than 30 partnering institutions. In January 2010 the city of Philadelphia will be the world hub for all things print, with The Graphic Unconscious providing a forum for the discussion on how concepts and processes associated with printmaking—accessibility, democratization, dissemination, multiplicity, repetition—are informing practices as diverse as video, painting, sculpture and performance-based work, all while expanding the realm of printmaking itself.
A year from now, Philagrafika 2010 will be already open to the public. Behind us lies the arduous process of deciding the conceptual framework, identifying themes and trends, traveling to exhibitions and biennials, and making innumerable studio visits. We also consulted the many curators and critics in Philadelphia, colleagues who selflessly shared their contacts with us and gave us thoughtful insights on the project. Ahead of us lies an equally daunting task—especially in the current financial climate: making this exhibition happen. But creativity need not be limited to the curating process, especially in difficult times (remember Szeemann): We are attempting to find alternative ways of financing such a complex show, relying on passionate individuals who are volunteering their time, contacts, efforts, and personal resources that go anywhere from donating airline miles to hosting an artist in their homes—in order to make this happen, something that would be difficult to achieve in a city that does not take brotherly and sisterly solidarity so seriously as our beloved Philadelphia. Many international funding agencies are actively supporting Philagrafika by funding partially or totally an artist's participation, and the artists themselves have been extremely generous with their own time and resources in order for Philagrafika to be successful.
We will be posting interviews with the artists as the process of developing new works for Philagrafika progresses, in order to provide insights on how they view their own practice in reference to print. Keep coming back!
Thursday, February 05, 2009