Workshops will be held daily from 11:30 to 16:00 and will culminate in an exhibition of ideas at the end of the week. Participants are offered the opportunity to respond to tasks put forward by guest curators and receive extensive feedback on aspects of curating, researching, producing and presenting new ideas. Workshop themes include, “Curatorial Start Kit for Research the Art and Democracy Question,” “Modes of Curating / Curating as Research,” “Curating the Place and the Social” Art as Production of Public Domain,” and “Showtime: Exhibition Temporalities and Curating as a Mode of Political Enquiry and Critical Practice.” The workshops are intended for small groups of students. Students must indicate their preferred workshops in the application form (in order of preference 1-3) and all students will be allocated at least one workshop (not necessarily first preference). Students attending workshops are expected to participate actively and present their own curatorial and artistic ideas.
Bassam El Baroni Workshop: Curatorial Starter Kit for Researching the Art and Democracy Question
It is clear that democracy is not simply an issue or a theme for contemporary art practices, but that – along with capitalism – it constitutes part of the structural reality that both constrains and enables their production and distribution. The most general aim of this workshop is to lay down some basic foundations for how the question of contemporary practice’s structural connection with the democratic project has been dealt with by various artists, theorists, and curators. How do we express and articulate our positions on the ‘art and democracy question’ in a curatorial project? The workshop aims to provide the conceptual tools for engaging with this question by looking into already existing research available on it and communicating how this research can be taken further into curatorial practice. A month before the workshop, participants will be asked to read select short essays and view some online videos in preparation. Day one will begin with workshop participants presenting their practices in general, interests and concerns. The aim of this is to develop some insight on our different perspectives that will be useful as the workshop moves forward. The rest of day one and day two will take the form of a presentation in which Bassam El Baroni will summarize and map out the most prominent positions from the late 80s to the present on the ‘art and democracy question’. It will look at the different arguments and the positions various agents in the extended field of art have developed towards this question and the wider political and social concerns that have motivated them to take up such positions. Participants are encouraged to interrupt with questions and engage in discussion.
On day three each participant – working individually or in collaboration with a colleague – will be asked to present a rudimentary project proposal which directly or indirectly tackles the ‘art and democracy question’. These initial proposals ought not to be complete articulations, but beginnings that can grow through discussion. They also not need be ‘exhibition proposals’ but can be geared towards intervention in public space, the internet, performances, or engagements with specific institutions or communities. Day four will be dedicated to fine-tuning these proposals and putting them in the best conceptual shape for the final open session presentations the following day in which participants will present their research and developing concepts in a mini-exhibition that all Valletta Curatorial School workshops will contribute to.
Maren Richter Workshop: Unlearn and fabulate
Valletta has been facing various transformations in the last decades. Nevertheless it is a city with a strong language of homogeneity and one that attracts and speaks to us with its colonial history. What potentiality can research-based artistic practice have in order to destabilize and traverse the ‘given’ parameters?
The workshop is a collaborative field exercise of how to research a place that suggests a linear narrative: Together we search for different typologies and fabrics of space/place/time/(hi)story in the city of Valletta, which aim to look at the potentiality of research as a model of sharing, re-reading and of interdisciplinarity. We investigate the (non)linear physicality of time and space. How could we look at it with different models of relating, engaging, and how can we think of an exhibition as a journey into un-learning? What are the limitations? Over the course of the week we develop research questions and draft a multi-site exhibition outline.
Alfredo Cramerotti Workshop: Modes of Curating / Curating as Research
PARTS ONE AND TWO: Research Module 1 (two days): The Social, Humanitarian, Historical, Scientific as Art.
Day 1 – Participants are invited to develop and present to the group their answers to a set of questions, such as: What does beauty has to do with, for instance, migration, climate change, mental or physical conditions? What is our understanding of aesthetics in relation to ethics? How do we tackle themes that lend themselves awkwardly to a presentation in the (critical) visual realm?
Day 2 – Starting with case studies such as Michael Takeo Magruder’s De-Coding the Apocalypse at the King’s College Cultural Institute London (2015), Marinella Senatore’s The School of Narrative Dance at MOSTYN (2016), and Shezad Dawood’s Leviathan at Palazzina Canonica Venice (2017), the group will relate their respective experiences with Cramerotti’s ones and highlight what worked and what did not, and why.
PART THREE: Research Module 2 (two days): Going forward. The act of thinking, planning, resourcing, delivering, closing and finalising your next exhibition or curatorial project.
Day 1 – Based on the brief proposals sent in advance, participants are invited to prepare and present about exhibitions or other types of projects (residencies, online platforms, public programmes, architectural or design commissions, educational initiatives, symposia, workshops, etc.) they would potentially develop in a specific field.
Discussion amongst the participants and Cramerotti about the various media and approaches envisioned to deliver their projects: Could the initiative be produced somehow else? Is new media and digital platforms following the concept and the execution or preceding it? Is the selection of artists or speakers leading to unexplored territories or consolidating an approach?
Day 2 – Speculations. Three type of curating.
Project making as software programme / data flow: the iterative model, based on change from one venue to another (or one exhibition to another) each time it is installed – growing new shows around a selection of key works (curator as maker / producer / managing editor)
Project making as trade show: the modular model, based on one incarnation of a multilevel event structure / platform with the possibility to scale up / down elements of the project without drastically affecting its overall coherence (curator as filter / stylistic editor)
Project making as broadcast: the distributed model, based on “exhibitions” in which various curators create their own infrastructure / agency or squat / occupy existing platforms to circulate and distribute art and the process of curating itself (curator as node / translator).
PART FOUR: The Pitch (one day): Poster(ing)
A collective poster session during which participants present a diagrammatic idea of their individual concept / project to each other, and particularly to participants and curators in other groups, informed by both feedback and speculations of the days before. A kind of “exhibition of ideas” where curators can get an inkling of what has been taking place in other workshops.
Fulya Erdemci Workshop: Curating the Place and the Social: Art As Production Of Public Domain
How does the organization of space have an impact on human and other species’ behaviours, and on the creation of the social? In what ways can art interfere with the space to aid the social? This workshop aims to analyse and discuss curatorial research methods as well as personal/particular insights to explore public spaces and social contexts in urban public spaces as well as natural sites. Through curatorial and artistic research and practices, the poetics and the politics of space/place will be juxtaposed and rethought together with the concepts of the social.
Mick Wilson Workshop: “Showtime: Exhibition temporalities and curating as a mode of political enquiry and critical practice.”
Within the expanded frame of curatorial practice, there has been a great deal of work done on curating as research; on the curatorial as a mode of critical pedagogical orchestration (the educational turn); on curating as the production of discursive space; on curating as the making of public-ness; and on curating as experiment in collective political imaginaries. Even though the terms of the curatorial have greatly expanded in recent decades, exhibition-making still operates as the dominant mode of curatorial production. But what are the terms and concepts that may be used to analyse exhibitionary forms? How are the terms of exhibition mobilised across these expanded agendas? It is widely acknowledged that exhibition operates upon both spatial and temporal frames, in orchestrating the visibility of art practices and works of art, but have we given enough consideration to the temporal variables in play? How does the question of exhibitionary time intersect with questions of curating as inquiry or curating as critical pedagogy or curating as making-public? In this workshop, through attending to questions of the temporalities of display, we will explore together the potentials and limitations of exhibition-making as a mode (i) of making publics; (ii) of critical pedagogical practice; (iii) of collaborative research; and (iv) of experiment in political imaginaries.
Workshop Method: As part of the workshop, participants will be asked to present their own projects in development, to respond critically to each other’s ideas and propositions, and to collectively analyse a range of examples using the shared experience and knowledge of the workshop group. Each participant is expected to bring their own knowledge and experience to the workshop process in a spirt of shared inquiry.
Sebastian Cichocki Workshop: Curating art beyond art
How does one determine the boundaries of art in the field of so much subjective experience, which could be a joint assembly in the wilderness, the occupation of a square in the city centre, or workshops on cartography in favelas? Art is increasingly becoming a part of completely different, non-artistic systems: ecology, politics, agriculture, religion, anthropology, or therapy. It is a specific field of human activity whose disciplinary blur ought to be viewed in terms of its vitality and adaptive abilities. The blurring of the boundaries of art is an enabling factor for the acquisition of new areas, while retaining skills of self-reflection and criticism. The separation of artistic activity from one’s daily job, a work of art from an everyday object or artistic competence from the social one has become in today’s institutional and curatorial practice secondary, if not insignificant. How do we curate art beyond art?
In a series of tasks, readings and assignments the group will be exploring the possibility of curating artistic practices which operate beyond institutional formats, and cannot be easily maintained by traditional exhibition practices, artistic events or site-specific commissioned art. One of the themes will be arte útil –art understood as a tool – promoted by Tania Bruguera, artist and activist from Cuba. According to her, this art must above all have practical and beneficial effects for viewers and replace authors with initiators, and viewers with users. Can we use art together?