Affect and Relationality

Reckitt, Helena and Fisher, Jennifer, eds. 2016. Affect and Relationality, Journal of Curatorial Studies, 5(1). 2045-5836 [Edited Journal]

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Abstract or Description

This is the second special issue of the Journal of Curatorial Studies on how affect theory has informed contemporary curating. Whereas the previous issue on ‘Museums and Affect’ surveyed a range of affects in regard to architecture, installations and media platforms, this issue on ‘Affect and Relationality’ investigates how the curatorial works to conduct, transmit and circulate affects through embodiment, autobiography, labour, intuition and social media. Three articles – by Nanne Buurman, Jennifer Fisher, and Helena Reckitt - address the prominence and consequences of affective labour in the light of increasing pressures of neo-liberalism, which has shifted the tasks of the curator from selecting artworks and organizing exhibitions to cultivating networks and capitalizing upon one’s conviviality. A further two articles – by Lisa Blackman, and Mark Clintberg and Jon Davies– consider how the affect of relationality bears significance for artist-curators and the embodied experience of gallery visitors encountering compelling and uncanny objects. Together these articles elucidate the many ways in which affect and relationality energize and connect curatorial networks, positionalities, institutions, communities, and technologies. In turn, the ways in which these contingencies are enacted and responded signal the decentered dynamics that operate to produce curatorial knowledge.

Helena Reckitt examines how in the current climate of reduced budgets and economic precarity public art institutions increasingly depend on curators to court funders and instrumentalize their contacts. Drawing on feminist social reproduction theory, she questions how exploitative supportive labour can be both contested and made more ethically responsible and personally, as well as institutionally, sustainable.

Nanne Buurman focuses on curator Carolyn Christov-Barkargiev and the catalogue for her ambitious dOCUMENTA (13) exhibition. Noting that self-promotion is now a requirement of post-Fordist society, Buurman explores how the conventional catalogue format has been affectively reconfigured by gendered, biopolitical and autobiographical concerns.

Scrutinizing curators’ expansion of their practice onto social media, Jennifer Fisher surveys how Instagram transmits the affect of connection both tangibly and proximally. By fostering a range of haptic relationalities, curators engage Instagram to stay in touch, to provide access to the behind-the-scenes of the exhibitionary complex, and to perform ethico-aesthetic formations of the self.

The affect of relationality also bears significance for artist-curators and the embodied experience of gallery visitors encountering compelling and uncanny objects. Lisa Blackman reflects upon the philosophical implications of beholding some of the affectively-charged objects in London’s Foundling Museum. In her analysis, the evocative feelings generated by the objects impact debates about subjectivity and mediation, and yield new ideas about the agency of affectively-engaged publics.

Mark Clintberg and Jon Davies consider two artist-curated exhibitions that foreground queer affect and play off the trope of the haunted house. While the first project, by Geoffrey Farmer, utilizes a Wunderkammer aesthetic of artefacts and artworks to comment on haunting and shame, the second, by Allyson Mitchell, draws on the stigmatized persona of the feminist killjoy to address persistent traces of misogyny and homophobia.

Introduction: Affect and Relationality
Jennifer Fisher and Helena Reckitt

Support Acts: Curating, Caring and Social Reproduction
Helena Reckitt

Affect, Mediation and Subjectivity-as-Encounter: Finding the Feeling of the Foundling
Lisa Blackman

Haunted by Queer Affect: Geoffrey Farmer’s The Intellection of Lady Spider House and Allyson Mitchell’s Killjoy’s Kastle
Mark Clintberg and Jon Davies

CCB with…: Displaying Curatorial Relationality in dOCUMENTA (13)’s The Logbook
Nanne Buurman

Curators and Instagram: Affect, Relationality and Keeping in Touch
Jennifer Fisher

Exhibition Reviews by
Andrew Stefan Weiner
Rasit Mutlu
Kathryn Brown
Jordan MacInnis
Noa Bronstein
Ingrid Mida

Book Reviews by
Judit Bodor
Erika Ashley Couto
Megan Toye

Item Type:

Edited Journal

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February 2016

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Date Deposited:

10 Jan 2017 11:34

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:21


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