Pablo Luis Álvarez (RCA) - 2019-20 Students

En-acting voices: Rhetorical platforms, public speaking and curatorial discourse

My project aims to interrogate the modes in which contemporary art curating has imagined itself as a rhetorical device, as reflected in curatorial scholarship and conveyed in curatorial practice. It refers not only to the rich array of discursive formats underpinning the rise of curatorial discourse –from talks and interviews to first-person narratives and biographical accounts– but, also, to theoretical inquiries into the programmatic agenda of curating, which have increasingly considered this practice as a particular mode of speaking and the curator as the main figure enabling a common space for speech in the sphere of contemporary art. Despite the prominence of curatorial discursive platforms during the last ten years, these have remained under-analysed and, with it, its impact on the process of biennalisation undergone by contemporary art, not least on the crucial themes debated therein, for instance, globalization, ecological crisis, decolonization, etc. Examining the curatorial sites generating rhetorical production becomes therefore a need if we want to understand the nexus between contemporary art, curating and global politics. Drawing on examples of curatorial practice where public speech is purportedly reconciling the singularity of the curator with community instantiation, I aim to reassess the pervasiveness of the curatorial voice to understand the role curatorial discourse has played in contemporary art during the last decade. My analysis intends to unpack how projects such as documenta 14’s methexic r adio, the Serpentine Marathons, or the exhibition Acts of Voicing have privileged speaking as a means to accomplish their curatorial purpose while bracing the discursive dimension of curating.

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