Thinking Contemporary Curating

Touring Lecture Series:

Terry Smith in Conversation with Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, NYU
Wednesday, October 22, 2013
ICI Curatorial Hub
Closed-door session

Past Events:

Book Launch & Reading with Terry Smith
Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 7–9pm
New York University
Department of Art History
300 Silver Center, 3rd floor
100 Washington Square East
New York, NY 10003

Terry Smith in Conversation with Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy, Curator, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Sunday, September 30, 2012, 3–4pm
New York Art Book Fair
22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101

Terry Smith in Conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director, dOCUMENTA(13)
Sunday, October 14, 2012, 3pm
The New Museum
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002

Terry Smith in Conversation with Jens Hoffmann, Director, Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art
Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 7pm
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art
California College of the Arts
350 Kansas Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Terry Smith in Conversation with Mary Jane Jacob, Executive Director of Exhibitions, SAIC
Sunday, November 18, 2012, 1pm
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Terry Smith
Monday, November 19, 2012
The School of Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

Terry Smith in conversation with Julian Myers, Associate Professor, California College of the Arts
Saturday, February 16, 2013
College Art Association 101st Annual Conference
Sutton Parlor North, 2nd Floor
Hilton New York
1335 Avenue Of The Americas
New York, NY 10019

Terry Smith in Conversation with Maria Lind, Director, Tensta Konsthall
Monday, April 1, 2013
ICI Curatorial Hub

Terry Smith in Conversation with Mami Kataoka, Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum
Saturday, August 3, 2013, 2–4pm
Mori Art Museum
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower (53F)
6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Japan
FREE & open to the public

Contemporary Art and Contemporaneity
Thursday, August 22, 2013, 6pm
Museum of Contemporary Art - Metelkova 22
Tomšičeva 14
SI-1000 Ljubljana

Since 2000, Terry Smith has argued that artists, architects, curators and art theorists have been responding to the nature of contemporary reality in terms of its definitive quality, its contemporaneity. He will discuss the key ideas underlying his controversial books: Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity, What is Contemporary Art?, Contemporary Art: World Currents, and Thinking Contemporary Curating. What are the main currents of art practice today? Which patterns occur on global scales, and do these relate to local situations? How has art practice changed the nature of contemporary curating? Is it possible to curate contemporaneity itself? His new book, Contemporary Art and Contemporaneity, edited by Professor Ales Erjavec and published in Slovenian by the Slovenian Society of Aesthetics, will be launched on the occasion of this lecture. The book contains important chapters from his books, and the text of a lecture he gave at the Moderna Galerija in 2010.

Terry Smith in Conversation with Zdenka Badivonac, Director, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana
Friday, August 23, 2013
Closed-door session, not open to the public

Terry Smith in Conversation with Paul O’Neill
Saturday, September 14, 2013, 3pm
New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Author and art historian Terry Smith will be in conversation with Paul O’Neill, author of The Culture of Curating, the Curating of Culture(s) (2012) and Director of the Graduate Program, Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Having both recently published the only book-length essays to map out contemporary curatorial practices, Smith and O’Neill will discuss trends in curatorial thought in a rapidly evolving international field. As part of the ongoing research and conversations related to his recent publication, Thinking Contemporary Curating (2012), Smith has been speaking with preeminent curators and art historians, including Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy, Jens Hoffmann, Mary Jane Jacob, Julian Myers, Maria Lind, Mami Kataoka, and Zdenka Badovinac. This is the seventh public presentation in the series of conversations that will lead to Thinking Contemporary Curating Volume 2. Moderator: Johanna Burton, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum. Respondent: Liam Gillick.

About Thinking Contemporary Curating

“Do curators think in ways that are unique to their profession? Can curatorial thought be distinguished from the thinking processes within the myriad of closely related practices—especially art criticism, art history and art making—and from curating within other kinds of museum or display spaces, public and private?”
–Terry Smith

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, to include reimagining museums; writing the history of curating; creating discursive platforms and undertaking social or political activism, as well as 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 and 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 art world 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

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.

By Terry Smith. Introduction by Kate Fowle
Softcover, 272 pages, 54 B&W illustrations
Published by Independent Curators International (ICI), 2012

Thinking Contemporary Curating is available as digital and softcover versions and is distributed by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP), ISBN: 978-0-916365-86-8. Paperback, 6.25 x 8.5 inches, 256 pages, 25 black-and-white illustrations. $19.95.

Order the book here.

October 22, 2013


Terry Smith

Terry Smith, FAHA, CIHA, is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2010 he was named the Australia Council Visual Arts Laureate, and won the Mather Award for art criticism conferred by the College Art Association (USA). During 2001-2002 he was a Getty Scholar at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, in 2007-8 the GlaxoSmithKlein Senior Fellow at the National Humanities Research Centre, Raleigh-Durham, and in 2014 Clark Fellow at the Clark Institute, Williamstown. From 1994-2001 he was Power Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the Power Institute, Foundation for Art and Visual Culture, University of Sydney. In the 1970s he was a member of the Art & Language group (New York) and a founder of Union Media Services (Sydney). He is the author of a number of books, notably Making the Modern: Industry, Art and Design in America (University of Chicago Press, 1993); Transformations in Australian Art (Craftsman House, Sydney, 2002); The Architecture of Aftermath (University of Chicago Press, 2006), What is Contemporary Art? (University of Chicago Press, 2009), Contemporary Art: World Currents (Laurence King and Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2011), and Thinking Contemporary Curating (Independent Curators International, New York, 2012). He is editor of many others including Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity (with Nancy Condee and Okwui Enwezor, Duke University Press, 2008). A foundation Board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, he is currently a Board member of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy is Curator of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in New York. Previously, she was the Director of the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City since 2009 and was Curator and Programs Manager at Art in General from 2003-2008, where she developed a New Commissions Program. Originally from Mexico, she graduated from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in 2000. In the past decade, she has worked at Art in General, Americas Society and CCS Bard; curated exhibitions for Kadist Art Foundation in Paris, the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA), and the Center for Contemporary Art in Vilnius, Lithuania; and worked closely on projects with a number of artists, including Allora & Calzadilla, Alejandro Cesarco, Mario García Torres, Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, and Judi Werthein. She lectures regularly on contemporary art, and publishes frequently in exhibition catalogs, art magazines and in her blog She is a board member of Kunstverein, Amsterdam, and an agent of the upcoming Documenta 13.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Curator, author and researcher into the politics of aesthetics and artistic practices, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev was Artistic Director of dOCUMENTA (13), which took place in Kassel, Germany, from June 9 – September 16, 2012. Previously, she was Chief Curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum for Contemporary Art from 2002–08, and interim director for 2009. She was Senior Curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center – a MoMA affiliate, New York, from 1999–2001. Her publications include William Kentridge (Bruxelles, 1998), Arte Povera (London, 1999), and the 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts series (Kassel, 2011–2012). Her exhibitions include The Moderns, Turin (2003), Faces in the Crowd, London and Turin (2004), the first edition of the Turin Triennale (2005), and in 2007–08 she was Artistic Director of the 16th Biennale of Sydney: Revolutions - Forms That Turn (2008).

Jens Hoffmann

Jens Hoffmann is Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Programs, at The Jewish Museum. Formerly, he was Director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco from 2007-2012. He was previously Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from 2003 to 2007. Hoffmann was an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, a guest professor at the Nuova Accademia de Belle Arti, Milan, and a faculty member at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has organized more than 50 shows internationally including the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011) and the 9th Shanghai Biennial (2012).

Mary Jane Jacob

Mary Jane Jacob is a curator and writer who has pioneered public, site-specific, and socially engaged art in the US. In little more than a decade, she has published numerous anthologies, spanning from Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art to the Chicago Social Practice History Series. Her new book, Dewey for Artists, will be forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2018. Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Jacob also directs the School’s Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice.

J. Myers-Szupinska

J. Myers-Szupinska is an art historian and editor based in Los Angeles. An influential scholar of contemporary art, space and exhibitions, Myers was founding faculty in the Curatorial Practice program at California College of the Arts, was senior editor for The Exhibitionist, a journal on exhibition making, and is part of the critical and curatorial collaboration grupa o.k. Myers’ essays have appeared in Afterall, Artforum, Fillip, Frieze, October, Tate Papers, as well as numerous exhibition catalogues. Recent publications include Hopelessness Freezes Time (2012), Sterling Ruby: Soft Work (2014), “After the Production of Space” (Critical Landscapes, 2015), and “Exhibitions as Apparatus,” (The Exhibitionist: The First Six Years, 2017). Initiated as a surprisingly popular Tumblr site in 2011, grupa o.k. has since produced projects for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland. Plug In ICA, Winnipeg, will publish grupa o.k.‘s image history of stages, titled Stagelessness, in 2019.

Maria Lind

Maria Lind is a curator, writer and educator based in Stockholm. She is the director of Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, and the artistic director of the 11th Gwangju Biennale. She was director of the graduate program, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2008-2010) and director of Iaspis in Stockholm (2005-2007). From 2002-2004 she was the director of Kunstverein München where, together with a curatorial team including the curator Sören Grammel, she ran a program including artists such as Deimantas Narkevicius, Oda Projesi, Annika Eriksson, Bojan Sarcevic, Philippe Parreno and Marion von Osten. From 1997-2001 she was curator at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, responsible for Moderna Museet Projecs with 29 commissions with among others Simon Starling, Apolonija Sustersic, Koo Jeong-a and Matts Leiderstam, and, in 1998, co-curator of Manifesta 2. She has taught widely since the early 1990s, for example at the Art Academy in Munich and the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Currently she is professor of artistic research at the Art Academy in Oslo. She has contributed widely to newspapers, magazines, catalogues and other publications. Among her recent co-edited publications are Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios, Performing the Curatorial: With and Beyond Art, and Art and the F Word: Reflections on the Browning of Europe, all at Sternberg Press. She edited Abstraction as part of MIT’s and Whitechapel Gallery’s series Documents on Contemporary Art. She is the 2009 recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement. In the fall of 2010 Selected Maria Lind Writing was published by Sternberg Press.

Mami Kataoka

Mami Kataoka has been the Chief Curator at the Mori Art Museum (MAM) in Tokyo since 2003, where she curated Roppongi Crossing (2004), Ozawa Tsuyoshi (2004), All About Laughter: Humor in Contemporary Art (2007), Ai Weiwei: According to What? (2009), Sensing Nature: Perception of Nature in Japan (2010), and most recently, Lee Bul: From Me, Belongs to You Only. Meanwhile she is extending her curatorial practice in many international projects including 9th Gwangju Biennale (2012) in South Korea as the Joint Artistic Director, Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past (2012) at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco as guest curator, and Ai Weiwei: According to What? (2012) at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, which will tour other North American venues. She was the International Curator at the Hayward Gallery in London between 2007 and 2009, and curated Laughing in the Foreign Language (2008) and co-curated Walking in My Mind (2009). She was Chief Curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery from 1998 to 2002. Kataoka also frequently writes and gives lectures on contemporary art in Asia.

Zdenka Badovinac

Zdenka Badovinac is a curator and art critic who has served as Director to the Moderna Galerija (Museum of Modern Art) in Ljubljana since 1993. In her work, she highlights the difficult processes of redefining history alongside different avant-garde traditions within contemporary art. Badovinac’s first exhibition to address these issues was Body and the East—From the 1960s to the Present (1998). She also initiated the first Eastern European art collection, Arteast Collection 2000+.

Paul O’Neill

Paul O’Neill is a curator, writer, artist, and educator. He is currently Director of the Graduate Program in Curatorial Studies at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. He is international tutor on the de Appel Curatorial Program, Amsterdam, and international research fellow with The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin. From 2007 to 2010, he was responsible for directing the major international research program Locating the Producers at Situations, University of the West of England, Bristol. He has previously held lecturing positions on the MFA in Curating, Goldsmiths, University of London and Visual Culture, Middlesex University, amongst others. Between 2001 and 2003, he was the Curator of London Print Studio Gallery, where he curated group shows such as Private Views; Drawn Out; Frictions; and A Timely Place…Or Getting Back to Somewhere. He was Artistic Director of Multiples X from 1997 to 2006, an organization that commissioned and supported curated exhibitions of artist’s editions, which he established in 1997 and included exhibitions at spaces such as the ICA, London; Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin; Ormeau Baths, Belfast; Glassbox, Paris, and The Lowry, Manchester. O’Neill has co-curated more than fifty exhibition projects across the world. His writings have been published in many books, catalogues, journals, and magazines and he is a regular contributor to Art Monthly. He is Reviews Editor for Art and the Public Sphere Journal and on the editorial board of The Exhibitionist, and The Journal of Curatorial Studies. He is editor of the curatorial anthology Curating Subjects (2007), and co-editor of Curating and the Educational Turn with Mick Wilson (2010), both published by de Appel and Open Editions (Amsterdam and London), and author of Locating the Producers: Durational Approaches to Public Art (Amsterdam, Valiz, 2011), edited with Claire Doherty. He recently completed the authored book The Culture of Curating, the Curating of Culture(s), (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2012).

Boris Groys

Boris Groys is a philosopher, essayist, art critic, media theorist, and an internationally acclaimed expert on late-Soviet postmodern art and literature, as well as on the Russian avant-garde. Dr. Groys’s writing engages the wildly disparate traditions of French poststructuralism and modern Russian philosophy. In the 1970s, Dr. Groys, who had studied philosophy and mathematics at Leningrad State University, immersed himself in the unofficial cultural scene in Russia’s capitals, coining the term “Moscow conceptualism.” From 1976-81, he held a position as a Research Fellow in the Department of Structural and Applied Linguistics at Moscow State University, and in 1981, Dr. Groys emigrated to West Germany, where he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Müenster. In the U.S., he is best known as the author of The Total Art of Stalin. This work is credited for introducing Western readers to Russian postmodernist writers. His philosophical writing includes A Philosopher’s Diary, On the New: A Study of Cultural Economics, and The Invention of Russia, while his contributions to art theory and criticism can be found in Vanishing Point Moscow and The Art of Installation. His most recent books are Under Suspicion: A Phenomenology of the Media and Ilya Kabakov. The Man Who Flew into Space from his Apartment (Afterall/MIT Press, 2006). Dr. Groys has also edited collections of articles in Russian and German and has written more than a hundred articles. Since 1994, in addition to serving as the curator and organizer of numerous international art exhibitions and conferences, Dr. Groys has been a Professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe.

Okwui Enwezor

Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) was the Director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, from 2011 to 2019, and his wide-ranging practice spanned international exhibitions, museums, academia, and publishing since the early 1990s.

In 1994, with Chika Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan, he founded Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, which is published by Duke University Press. In 1998, he curated the 2nd Johannesburg Biennial, and from 1998 to 2002 he served as the artistic director of Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany. He also curated the 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, Spain (2005–7); the 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2008); the Triennale d’Art Contemporain de Paris at the Palais de Tokyo (2012); and the 56th Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures (2015).

From 2005 to 2009, he was Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at the San Francisco Art Institute. He also held positions as visiting professor in art history at the University of Pittsburg; Columbia University, New York; University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Umea University, Sweden; and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

He is the author or co-editor of numerous books, among them Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Bologna: Damiani, 2009), Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; London: INIVA, 1999), Mega Exhibitions: Antinomies of a Transnational Global Form (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2002), Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (New York: International Center of Photography; Göttingen: Steidl, 2008), and The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society (2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, 2006).

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