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Curatorial Practices
Interview with Andrea Giunta
by Analí­a Roffo

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AR: I don't believe that the difficulty is due to not having sufficient economic support for responding to these encounters. In the same way, one could suspect that whoever ‘sponsorsí­ an artist is able to influence his work.

AG: It is clear that the economic aspect is crucial. This could be very clearly seen at Documenta. Video and the electronics predominated, and there were virtually no paintings. There was sculpture but out of its traditional context. It is common to see artists today who do not limit themselves to a specific medium but who migrate from one to another, and form a simultaneous coexistence of different types of production (photography, painting, facility, video). So imagine the other crucial aspect for Argentine artists: all this production of art is costly. Above all, because the materials are all imported.

AR: You mentioned that artists must also negotiate nowadays with the museums. How hard can this task be if we recognize that nowadays museums have an active participation in the tourist industry which, I imagine, influences tastes and decisions?

AG: That is so: museums today are linked to tourism and with the need to attract a large public. This can condition the decision to be made by a curator, who becomes loathe to hold a very cryptic exhibition. It is no accident that during the nineties many museums exhibited cars and fashion, for example, becoming spaces where non-canonical items could be found. But now the problem is more serious.

AR: In what sense?

AG: We are in the middle of a crisis whose results we cannot imagine. In principal, the issue is economic and can be seen in museums in New York, for example. It is not possible to finance exhibitions as costly as those formerly held, there are rooms at the Metropolitan which closed because it was impossible to maintain the personnel to take care of them. The most powerful museums in the world have been affected by a similar crises. But there is another issue concerning the concentrated power which has been marshaled by curators.

AR: Has the climate become despotic in deciding what should or should not be shown at a museum?

AG: In some ways yes, and they take advantage of an almost-aural force with which they speculate. This occurs in internationally as well as in Argentina: the curator is a powerful figure insofar as he makes it possible for artists to show their work or otherwise in different places. 90% of the time when I speak to an artist at an exhibition, they have something critical to say about the curator and his work. It is as though a business deal still existed between Caravaggio and the person bringing pressure to bear on him to alter his work. The thing is that the curator takes the place of whoever can create a discourse to place a value or visualize something which has been discarded from the rules in force up to that moment. It is someone capable of creating new readings. That is why I say there is an autocratic trend involved as though there was a special power, not arising always from knowledge but through an "inborn" talent.

AR: I am thinking of the possibility of "spontaneous selection". Couldní­t this be arbitrary?

AG: Of course. In the end, these new readings are always historic constructions which negotiate with the senses and power, and which can have better or worse intentions. What I do not doubt is that, in Argentina, there is still a lack of professionalism in the guardianship. We see someone fast becoming a curator because they've organized two or three exhibitions.

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