Interdependent unlearning(s) and caring for disruption: A queer-feminist collective writing session on curatorial experiences and desires for instituting otherwise

Vargas, Chris E; Zhihan, Dot Jia; Reckitt, Helena; Prowse, Jamila; Sadzinski, Sylvia; Iohe, Taey and Hofmann, Vera. 2022. Interdependent unlearning(s) and caring for disruption: A queer-feminist collective writing session on curatorial experiences and desires for instituting otherwise. The Year of the Women / Jahr der Frau, [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Helena Reckitt contributed to this online discussion about curatorial (un)learning(s), wishes and desires, within institutions as well as self-organised feminist and queer spaces. The project was initiated and edited by Vera Hofmann and Sylvia Sadzinski in the context of YEAR OF THE WOMEN* which centered (queer) feminist perspectives and positions of women*, lesbians, inter*, non-binary, trans* and agender people throughout the annual programme, at the Schwules Museum, Berlin.

After an initial meeting during which Hofmann and Sadzinski shared their questions with invited co-authors based in the UK, US, and Germany, the group met for three hour-long co-writing sessions in June and July 2022. Writing together, in no particular order, they cross-referenced and jumped back and forth within the text. One participant, Jamila Prowse, could not join the meetings during the periods of co-writing, but contributed at different times to the shared document.

The text was very lightly edited and proofread. Nothing from the original contributions was deleted. The editors decided to keep the repetitive elements and all unanswered questions as key elements of their original idea, in tune with their advocacy of process-based work instead of polished results.

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The discussion ranged widely exploring the following questions and issues:

- Curating
Why do you/why do we curate?
What goal(s) are you/we pursuing?
Do you understand curating as activism?
When does curating become a form of activism?
Is it possible to curate radically? And where?
What would be your understanding of the 'ideal' way of curating? How do we get there?
When is curatorial practice queer, or what is queer curating?
And when does curatorial practice become queer-feminist?
Why is it important for us to label, or categorize and define our curatorial practice accordingly?
What is the difference between queer curating and queering curating/curation, or when and how can curatorial practice be queered?
What role do representational politics and identity politics play in defining queer curating?
To what extent is the para-curatorial possibly queer because it refuses to take a fixed form?
And to what extent can the post-curatorial be called queer because it supposedly questions curation itself?

- Disruption/Intervention
When can artistic/curatorial practice disrupt entrenched forms, formats and infrastructures?
Whom can it disrupt and for what and why?
Radical disruption, "revolution" vs. recognition politics and revolution of and with small steps? Is there even a gentle way?
How should we curate if we want to disrupt common (infra)structures?
Who is ‘we’?
Is it worthwhile to intervene in existing institutions? If yes, why, if no, why not?
Do we want or should we (exploit or) change or abolish the institutional/institutions?
Should we disrupt/destroy existing structures or rather create new structures?
What structures and resources are needed to avoid burnout and trauma that can arise in the context of interventionist/activist curatorial work?
How can we be radically disruptive while still depending on recognition for our work?

- Instituting Otherwise
How deep and how far can we go in and with institutions? When can/should we take institutions seriously?
What are the formats that would take us further in an institutional critique?
Which infrastructures and organizational forms do we want?
What structures do we need?
How can we build new structures without reproducing the same things and mistakes?
What are the demands on or visions of an institution or infrastructure that is non-violent, caring and sustainable?
What connects the curatorial with current discourses around care?

How does curating create community?
What would/could be seen as a real commoning process within the curatorial field?


Feminist Curating, Queer Curating, Activist Curating, Curating and Care, Instituting Otherwise, Commons/Commoning

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6 October 2022Published Online
1 September 2022Accepted

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Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2023 09:51

Last Modified:

14 Apr 2023 09:51


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