Does the art world needs to rise up against curators?

Hans Ulrich Obrist hear us, 2013, Bill Burns

“Curationism”, a play on the term “creationism” is meant to evoke a similar sense of religiosity and cultish fervor.[1] This is a fitting allusion, since renown curators such as Hans Ulrich Obrist and Massimilliano Gioni have been the object of much reverence over the past few decades. It is also appropriate to the extent that some curators often seem to create value out of nothing. In some cases to such a degree that artists have even offered up prayers to them. One example is Bill Burns’s 2013 Art Basel Miami Beach work in which a banner flown by a small propeller plane pleaded “Hans Ulrich Obrist Hear Us” while being trailed softly over the art fair. Everything from artisanal cheese to music festivals has been “curated.” “Curatorial-studies” programs are offered in increasing numbers, and even the mainstream marketing industry is adopting “curation” as a means of adding value to content. In the art world however, the curator reigns supreme, sometimes even eclipsing the contributions of individual artists. But what is a curator, exactly?

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[1] Term created by David Balzer, author of Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else. Carrigan, Margaret. “The Creation, and Re-creation, of the Curator.” Hyperallergic. 9 Sept. 2015. Web. 6 Jan. 2016. <>.

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