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Thinking Contemporary Curating

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Smith, Terry. Thinking Contemporary Curating, Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, 2012. Introduction by Kate Fowle. 272 pages, 54 B&W illustrations, softcover. ISBN: 978-0-916365-86-8. SOLD OUT


Thinking Contemporary Curating is the first book to offer an in-depth analysis of the volatile territory of international curatorial practice and the thinking—or insight—that underpins it. In five essays, renowned art historian and critic Terry Smith describes how today curators take on roles far beyond exhibition making, such as reimagining museums, writing the history of curating, creating discursive platforms, and undertaking social or political activism, and rethinking spectatorship.


The catalyst for the publication was “The Now Museum” conference that ICI produced in collaboration with the CUNY Graduate Center and the New Museum in New York in 2011. In panel discussions and lectures, over 30 leading artists, art historians, curators, museum directors such as art historian Claire Bishop, Okwui Enwezor (Director, Haus der Kunst), Massimiliano Gioni (Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions, New Museum), Lu Jie (Director, Long March), Maria Lind (Director, Tensta Konsthall) and Terry Smith discussed the diversification of the notion of the “museum of contemporary art,” providing intergenerational perspectives on recent developments across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. This spurred a year-long journey for Smith, responding to ideas, events, and encounters in the artworld in the process of questioning what “curating” is today, which forms the heart of this publication.


“Through his act of global metacurating, Terry Smith places different and sometimes contradictory curatorial practices and attitudes into a panorama that fascinates and intellectually engages the reader. It is a must-read for everybody who wants to understand the inner logic of contemporary art processes.”
–Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University

Artforum’s “Best of 2012” chosen by Sofiá Hernández Chong Cuy
Read more reviews here.




Thinking Contemporary Curating is the first in a new series entitled Perspectives in Curating developed by ICI to provide sustained analysis on topics that are pressing for curators now.

Thinking Contemporary Curating was made possible, in part, by grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. Additional support for this publication was received from the ICI International Forum Patrons Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, Haro and Bilge Cumbusyan, Carol and Arthur Goldberg, Belinda Kielland, Patricia and Charles Selden, Younghee Kim-Wait, Georgia Welles, and Elizabeth Erdreich White.

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