Writing as Practice

by | Sep 7, 2010 | Curatorial, Writing | 2 comments

I had a “studio visit” lunch with a curator colleague last week where we each talked (very informally) about our current projects and thinking, in an effort to break down the weird communication barrier that sometimes exists between curatorial colleagues. (It seems to me that, like academics, we are sort of afraid of one another, and don’t share our strange, idiosyncratic experiences in this pseudo-job often enough. An artist once asked me how you find independent curators to do studio visits with and I had no idea what the answer was. Maybe we need a directory, like a telephone book).  Cheyanne asked a good question, one that I hadn’t consciously considered before: how do you see writing fitting in to the rest of your work?

I do a lot of writing, but I don’t usually consider it the most important aspect of the work and thinking I do. I write about the research I’ve done in school to share it with others, I write about shows and screenings I program to try and work through my ideas and I write exhibition reviews and features about art I have seen and enjoyed because I think it deserves more attention. But it made me wonder how writing, as a broad, generalized practice, operates within the rest of what I do, especially the writing that isn’t instrumentalized – writing that isn’t done in the service of course work or a degree, or to help explain or expand on a curatorial idea – but that I do seemingly “for no reason,” particularly on this blog (although very sporadically) or in the comments threads of other people’s sites. I see that kind of writing as fulfilling a similar role to the curating I do: it helps me to work through or test out an idea that has been plaguing me in the only way that seems to make sense. It offers a feedback loop with a wide audience and generates genuine engagement and responses from people who somehow feel freed, in the context of an exhibition or blog, to express themselves a little more spontaneously, in a way I appreciate. Like the person who wrote “I don’t get video installations” in the guest book for “This is uncomfortable”. I found that sort of refreshing.

But I’m curious: how does writing fit into your practice or work? Is there a way to harness writing so that we start to connect and converse with one another?