cheyanne turions’ Canadian curated moment

by | Jul 27, 2011 | Curatorial | 0 comments

Curator, writer and all-around amazing thinker cheyanne turions is currently in Banff, participating in a residency led by Dexter Sinister, called From the Toolbox of a Serving Library. The premise of the residency, as cheyanne explains it, is to “take the icon of the Photoshop toolbox (shorthand for any contemporary arts software) as a starting point,” using workshops around these tools — from the Type tool, to the Lasso, to the Pointer, and more — to reconsider and reformulate the Bauhaus foundation course as a model for aesthetic learning.

You can read more about the residency, and cheyanne’s contribution to it through iterations of No Reading After the Internet, on her blog, but for now I wanted to draw attention to her commentary on First Nations / Second Nature, a group exhibition at Simon Fraser University’s Audain Gallery curated by Candice Hopkins. Framing the show as her choice of a significant Canadian curated moment, and as an example of a resonant group exhibition, cheyanne’s description of the show is helpful in locating the gallery within the political and social context of the neighbourhood and city, especially in the lead up to the craziness that was the 2011 Winter Olympic Games. I also appreciate her meditation, inspired by a discussion with residency instructor Anthony Huberman, on the differences between curatorial methodologies that look inward (often selecting works that explain an idea) and those that look outward (searching for works that complicate the idea that was the exhibition’s starting question, or original premise).

I’m not always sure that it’s so easy to distinguish between these two models of curating. For me, an exhibition often begins with an idea or starting question and then it can become difficult not to see/seek out that theme in the works I encounter after I begin contemplating the idea. But it also drives me crazy when curators use artworks as illustrations for a pre-formed thesis, because it seems to overdetermine and suffocate the more nuanced or even contradictory meanings that viewers might bring to the work if it had more breathing room. It’s something I feel I’m always struggling with, both as a curator and a viewer, so it’s refreshing to have cheyanne’s keen thoughts on it, especially when it’s applied to a concrete case study.