Nomads & Residents

“Oh, you’re a curator at ‘the gallery? No, I said I’m an independent curator.” The responses are invariably… “I didn’t realise there were other galleries? Or, I don’t understand your role, what is it that you do?” Which, if not actually asked, infers: how do you make a living and what is your value?  

It was so nice in New York (in fact, almost anywhere else) I could be talking with my driver, who’d respond, “Oh, well this is the place. There are so many galleries, have you been to this gallery” or exhibition, or work, I really liked blah, blah. The conversations were so easy; I never had to start from the beginning. Here, whether layperson or artist, I often have to start from the dawn of time and it can be so difficult to jump start this kind of conversation.

It’s forced me to spend a lot of time essentially advocating for my profession. But sometimes it is interesting to be asked such seemingly obvious questions. Namely, what is an exhibition? What is an exhibition’s value? So a while back, months ago, I wrote a brief do-it-yourself guide. The publication format sits somewhere between a designed zine and a pamphlet. It explores exhibition models or exhibition types that contemporary and independent exhibition makers utilise as materials that are continually transformed.

The approaches described are by no means shiny-new-fangled practices and I’d imagine the guide offers little new information for those in the biz. However, it does divert from prescriptive definitions of exhibitions, contained by a dedicated venue with white walls. Just as artists employ genre-breaking approaches to making, associated roles also blur and oscillate: artist-as-curator, curator as collaborator and collector as sponsor.

For ages I’d been reluctant about the idea, because I’d considered the micro text and macro images of guidebooks a bit silly really, but I’ve gradually realised that they can be quite useful references, a quick resource for succinct on-point information. By popular demand, this edition also contains an ‘insert’ that lists and locates, with an accompanying map, preferred New York galleries and locations of interest; which is great for me, because I won’t have to continually search for that list anymore.

Ultimately, Nomads & Residents presents a context for my regular encounters in the hope of jump starting that inevitable conversation, to rectify an imbalance. Or at least, reassure others (and myself) of the inherent values of exhibition making and in a way, how to consider paradigm shifting exhibitions.

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