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Manifesta Journal The Canon of Curating

The current issue of Manifesta Journal is mainly concerned with two questions: how is the canon of curating to be defined and if “a history of exhibitions” must be written what should its parameters be?

In art history, the canon has been losing ground since the 1960s, when the study of “great artists” began to be replaced slowly by the study of the conditions surrounding artistic practice. This shift was also demonstrated by curators of the time. Nevertheless, within the practice of curating, the canon seems to occupy a noteworthy position—if only because some curators still feel the need to “curate outside the canon.” In the act of curating, do we refer to a canonical framework of exhibitions or intend to produce exhibitions that will become part of a canon of curating? Is the canon an authoritative point of reference within the field of exhibition making? And is this something we should turn against or is it an essential part of the practice of the curator? If we practice curating “outside the canon,” shouldn’t we at least define what such a canon includes or excludes?

These questions lie at the heart of MJ’s eleventh issue, “The Canon of Curating,” and ultimately lead to an inquiry into what makes the one exhibition more important than the other, and why?

In the Historiography section, Bruce Altshuler explores the discussion and research around the complex establishment of an exhibition canon. Simon Sheikh notes in his contribution that it is important to keep the inclusionary and exclusionary mechanisms of a canon in mind and reconsider the writing of a history of the exhibition canon through ideas and concepts rather than events.

In the Studies section, different scholars explore canonical exhibitions from the last century that took place in England, Italy, and Brazil: Elena Crippa investigates the curatorial strategies of the first International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 at the New Burlington Galleries in London; Paola Nicolin explores the canon of exhibitions in Italy in 1967 and 1968; Inti Guerrero examines the 1998 anthropophagic São Paulo Biennial and its aftermath; and Francesca Franco directs our attention to the curatorial model of the Venice Biennale, focusing on the 1968 and 1974 editions.

In an interview with Cristina Freire, Walter Zanini describes his anticanonical curatorial approach for the sixth Jovem Arte Contemporânea exhibition in Sao Pãolo.

And in Positions, Bassam El Baroni proposes that a new universality should become the center of curatorial debates, and Jelena Vesić makes five comments on the canons of contemporaneity.

MJ #11 includes contributions by Bruce Altshuler, Bassam El Baroni, Elena Crippa, Francesca Franco, Cristina Freire, Inti Guerrero, Milena Hoegsberg, Fieke Konijn, Olga Kopenkina, Paola Nicolin, Jean-Marc Poinsot, Simon Sheikh, Jelena Vesić, and Walter Zanini.

The editorial team of Manifesta Journal is composed of:

Chief Editor: Viktor Misiano, Moscow
Senior Editor: Nathalie Zonnenberg, Amsterdam
Associate Editor: Filipa Ramos, Milan / London
Managing Editor: Lisa Mazza, Amsterdam / Bolzano
Copy Editor: Joshua Bauchner, New York

Manifesta Journal is an initiative of the Manifesta Foundation, Amsterdam, and is published together with Silvana Editoriale, Milan.

Previous Issues
MJ #7 “The Grammar of the Exhibition”
MJ #8 “Collective Curating”
MJ #9 “History in the Present”
MJ #10 “The Curator as Producer”

Upcoming Issue
MJ #12 “Ethics”

A reprint of the first series of Manifesta Journal is available in the format of two books (MJ #1–3 and MJ #4–6). For further information, please contact [email protected].

For subscriptions & general information

Manifesta Foundation
Prinsengracht 175 hs
1015 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +31 20 672 1435

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