Loughborough University
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Politicising 'independent' curatorial practice under neoliberalism: critical responses to the structural pressures of project-making

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posted on 2015-08-18, 09:31 authored by Jakub Szreder
This practice-based research discusses critical responses to the structural pressures of 'independent' curating under neoliberalism. The study argues for politicising project-making in accordance with such values as equality, collective autonomy and interdependency. The argument contributes to current debates about the practical plausibility of politicising project-related modes of production in the expanded field of art. The thesis acknowledges that 'independent' curators are culturally and economically dependent on the same apparatus that they want to contest. My work approaches this basic contradiction as a practical and conceptual challenge that prompts a series of questions as to how to practice within the apparatus, whilst at the same time resisting the social pressures of the very same system. The methodology merges sociological analysis of the social conditions of 'independent' curating with the tacit knowledge of the forms of curatorial resistance elicited by the pressures discussed. Thus, I set aside the aesthetical contents of curatorial projects and focus on their social forms. Utilising Walter Benjamin s concepts from The Author as Producer (1934), I argue that to politicise project-making, an 'independent' curator is required to intervene in the social apparatuses of curatorial production. The thesis reveals a number of social pressures, which manifest themselves in 'independent' curatorial practice and analyses tactics that 'independent' curators develop in response to those pressures. I interpret the examples of curatorial practice, submitted to evidence my argument, both as symptoms of those social pressures and as sites of politicised, curatorial intervention. To analyse politicised curating, I introduce two central terms 'the apparatus of project-making' and 'radical opportunism'. These terms facilitate the analysis of the intrinsic contradictions and ethical complexities of politicised curating. I apply this conceptual framework to the different aspects of project-making, analysing temporal structures, modes of governance and competitive features of the apparatus, alongside politicised, curatorial responses to the pressures discussed. In order to discuss curatorial tactics that respond to the social pressures of project-making, I introduce new terms, such as 'free/slowness', 'neither a project nor an institution' and 'interdependent curating', discussed in the consecutive Chapters.





  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • Arts


© Jakub Szreder

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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