“A short chronology of curatorial incients in the 20th Century”


The research was done in the frame of the Se Busca Curator‘s project, produced by LaPinta collective. Firstly, in 2008 it was launched as a documentation space at the Santa Mònica Arts Center, in Barcelona. Then, in 2010 it was launched the homonymous publication, published by LaPinta itself. Following there is the presentation text of the research, while its different chapters can be downloaded clicking on the icon.

“What is a curator?” It is a question that doesn’t make sense, because the curator is not something; the curator does something. There is no ontology of the middleman: she is a performative and exemplary agent, acquiring subjectivity in and by the act of mediation. Soren Andreasen & Lars Bang Larsen, 2007

Ironically, the museum that is supposed to be the arbiter of modern culture is blind to its own cultural history. The Museum of Modern Art is an institution where amnesia reigns. Mary Anne Staniszewski, 1998


With “A Short Chronology of Curatorial Incidents in the 20th Century” we collected 37 stories about different events related to curating, principally in the contemporary art world. The chronology begins in 1907 with a poem that Guillaume Apollinaire published in Je dis tout, where he ridicules the director in charge of organising the Autumn Salon in Paris.  The chronology ends in 2008 with the project The Manifesto of Possibilities, which aims to develop a collaborative manifesto on the realisation of projects in the public space and thus involve the different agents that take part in this type of projects in the creation process.

“A Short Chronology of Curatorial Incidents in the 20th Century” thus intends to contribute contrasted methods with which curating has been conceived, practised and narrated. Even more so than in theses and views on the meaning of art that have been generated through projects and exhibitions, the aim is to plunge ourselves in given moments which, scarcer – or, at least, less visible – have also attempted to represent the very same curatorial practice.

The chronology we are presenting feeds on the information that, in the best of cases, historiography has tended to save for footnotes. And although in this case there has been an attempt to use a rather traditional methodology for the treatment of the documentary, the disparity of interpretations that can be found regarding the curatorial practice ends up imposing itself on the very same temporal sequence, ultimately interrupting any possibility of presenting the same practice via a unique narratorial evolution in the curatorial practice.

Thus, effectively, as well as the differences caused by the chronological and geographical distance that separates facts, we have also wanted to underline certain contrasts which are due to the disparity of agents who have become responsible for curatorial processes (independent curators, museum curators, political curators, artists, architects, gallery owners, etc.) and also to the disparity of showings that have implicated other agents in the creation process (the public, artists, art critics, educators, etc.).

Regarding the title of the series, “A Short Chronology of Curatorial Incidents in the 20th Century”, it makes reference to the chronology that Alison Green published in 2000, which is also included among the accounts presented here. Green’s approximation is based principally on the results of the curatorial processes, that is to say, it is about a chronological ordering of a collection of exhibitions and relevant projects that have been executed throughout the past century; those which, likewise, historiography has also tended to leave aside in order to privilege the study of artistic productions for their own value.

By contrast, in our case we are focalising interest on the proceedings that have developed for the management of projects, the organisation of its agents, the narration of its processes, as well as the creation of a meaning for the curatorial practice. We are dealing with aspects that, equally excluded from the same scene of representation usually linked to exhibitions and which are scarcely developed between the most recent studies on curatorship, can inform us and allow for the debate surrounding the politics and economics of curating, for instance enriching that which also refers to the interpretation of the artistic practices.