Studying Curatorial-Abilities: Environmenting, Improvising, Inhabiting States of Affairs

Moosavi Jafari, Fereshte S.. 2020. Studying Curatorial-Abilities: Environmenting, Improvising, Inhabiting States of Affairs. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Studying Curatorial-Abilities: Environmenting, Improvising, Inhabiting States of Affairs)
VIS_thesis_ MoosaviJafariF_2020.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (28MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Studying Curatorial-Abilities: Environmenting, Improvising, Inhabiting States of Affairs proposes a set of abilities that has the potential to resituate curatorial thinking and expand practices of curation as creative processes. This thesis is written as part of a practice-based PhD research project and is elaborated through two parallel, and in part intertwined, studies: 1) one study focused on the philosophical and theoretical examination of practices in art, theatre and cinema that manifest potentials of the curatorial that I propose to understand as ‘curatorial-abilities’; and 2) an ongoing, practice-based project entitled Curatorial in Other Words that seeks an alternative pedagogical, institutional and representational model of studying curatorial practice.

This PhD submission includes the following practical and theoretical elements:

1. An explorative part that contextualises an ontological triad of space, time and historical sites in relation to the potential of curatorial turns within artistic practices while problematising their conventional art historical narratives. This thesis also argues for the insufficiency of theoretical, socio-political and artistic engagements in conventional curation, and suggests the notion of ‘curatorial-ability’ to substitute for such deficits.

2. A research-based curatorial project—Curatorial in Other Words—that was initially developed as the central practice undertaken for this research. As yet ongoing, this project aims to cultivate curatorial processes in the context of self-reflexive but collaborative projects while exercising theoretical articulation of those processes. The practical activities for this project were organised in parts and over the course of two years in Tehran: an exhibition, a symposium, a series of public lectures and workshops, and also a publication.

Introducing an inquiry into the possibilities of collective operations within artistic and cultural environments, Chapter 1 proposes a ‘curatorial-ability’ that is manifested as ‘environmenting’ to generate different spaces for mutual recognition. Chapter 2 considers the performative quality of ‘improvising’ as another ability and discusses its relevance to curatorial practice in response to critical conditions for art in society. Reflecting on the significance of historical and socio-political contexts in contemporary practices, Chapter 3 introduces the ability of ‘inhabiting states of affairs’ while discussing questions associated with the power of the people.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


curatorial studies, curating, exhibition, research-based exhibition, contemporary art, visual cultures, curatorial knowledge

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 January 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Jun 2021 15:05

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2022 10:16


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)