From Deathly Repetitions to Transversal Co-dependences: Rethinking the Ecological as Tools for Radical Re-organisation of the Curatorial
Pope, Miranda. 2017. From Deathly Repetitions to Transversal Co-dependences: Rethinking the Ecological as Tools for Radical Re-organisation of the Curatorial. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]
Abstract or Description
My research addresses political problems in curatorial practices that engage with notions of ecology and issues relating to environmental concerns. Taking as case studies the RSA/ACE Arts and Ecology project from 2005-2010; Cape Farewell, and exhibition Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969-2009, I argue that these curatorial forms dissipate and reify the political acuity of artistic content, curatorial context and the constituent, non-art issues. In holding on to an idea of the artwork’s autonomy, curating practice addressing issues that exist outside the flows and circuits of the art world is precluded from properly addressing the wider issues with which it seeks to connect. I call this situation the eco-critical curating paradigm.
The problem is addressed in two stages: firstly through a detailed excavation of the term ecology, and secondly through a reformatting of the curatorial. Firstly, I argue that the term ecology has reached its limits as an intellectual force. In response, I propose a move to the ‘ecological’, embodied in four theoretical tools that are both questions and propositions, that initiate inquiries into the socio-politics of located forms and processes of organising, making and doing.
Secondly I conduct a critique of the eco-critical curating paradigm. This results in a reformatting of the curatorial that exits the frameworks of art, a format I call the ecological-curatorial. What changes for curating is that form, organisation and production are equally situated alongside content, coalescing around a concern, with curatorial activities emerging out of the intersections of the circumstances, interests, aims and inquiries of the collective engaged in the inquiry. Art might align with these or come into their orbit, but this happens according to the terms of each specific format of the ecological-curatorial. Art therefore does not claim any privileged space within an assemblage of the ecological-curatorial, indeed the format of the ecological-curatorial asks us to critically reappraise the relationship between art and social realities.