Youri Appelo

Youri Appelo




Summary of Qualifications

Curating: as a curator my core tasks are to create exhibitions and initiate projects in which people, art, knowledge and/or ideas can be exchanged between one another. Mediating, connecting and collaboration are therefore important concepts regarding my practice. Most of the projects are initiated by personal motivations regarding political, environmental and social situations of the 21st century (example: Conflicting Identities).

Art-mediation: within my work as an art-mediator I mainly focus on building dialogues. My goal is to improve and enrich the exchange of ideas, experiences, opinions and statements between people. Within a free and open environment the group is able to learn from each other. The artworks is both subject as catalyst for the dialogue.

The Curator, The Artist, The Exhibition and The Issues

Summary | The Curator, The Exhibition, The Artist & The Issues

Since the 1960’s the profession of the curator has radically changed. Before this so-called Curatorial Turn the curator was mainly seen as a caretaker that worked behind the scenes of museums. By means of radical developments within the arts, critical attitudes from artists, and several pioneering curators, the profession of the curator elevated to an independent artistic practitioner, that was no longer working behind the scenes.

Ever since the Curatorial Turn, there has been a lot of reflection, discussion and debate around this new curator. The critique from Daniel Buren on Harald Szeemann during the Documenta V (1972), might be seen as the beginning of tensions between the curator and artist. The recent E-Flux conversation ‘Heavily Curated Biennials Really Bother Me As An Artist’ (2015) might be regarded as an example that this discussion is still very topical. These tensions, critiques and issues led me to write this Master-thesis in which I investigated a very basic question: What are the issues regarding the curator-as-author in relation to the artist? And how can I as a young curator deal with these issues? To accomplish this I needed to dig deeper into three key-subjects: (1) the curator, (2) the exhibition and the artist, and (3) the issues and cases in which the issues are solved.

CURATOR | Due to a relative short existence of this new form of curatorship, confusion might occur in theory. Terms that are coined to identify types of curators differ a lot. By juxtaposing the Curator-as- artist with the Curator-as-author I concluded that these two notions are in general sense the same notions. Both of them deal with a curator that produces exhibitions from artistic motives, that present its own ideas, perspectives or thesis, and lastly appears as the author of the exhibition. In the notion of the Curator-as-author (or as-artist) curating could be regarded as an artistic discipline, the curator as the artist and the exhibition as the medium and work of art.

EXHIBITION | For this thesis I investigated the relation between the curator and the artist. For this I needed to research the notion of the exhibition, because in this context the curator and artist relate to each other. The exhibition could be regarded as the bridge between the curator and the artist, in which they collaborate and collide. Besides that, the exhibition is also a medium that both curator and artist tried to expand and elevate to art over the years. Therefore it was important look deeper into exhibitions in history, to investigate the notion of the exhibition and what it could be, and lastly to think about different exhibition contexts and formats.

ARTIST | The role of the artist within the developments of the curator is often underestimated: it was huge. Firstly, the critical attitude from artists on museums across the 20th century caused an increase of international large-scale exhibitions that were focussed on the contemporary. These exhibitions asked for equipped organizers, and the curator responded. Within these specific exhibitions the curator broke loose with the museum, took on different roles and expanded the notion of the exhibition. Secondly, it became clear that the artist was the precursor of the artistic curator. Developments in the arts, such as the rise of Conceptual Art, Installation Art, Gesammtkunst and site- specific work, led artists to use the format of the exhibition as a new and artistic medium. Today we identify this type of artist as the Artist-as-curator.

ISSUES | Preliminary research showed me that three issues are at the heart of the discussion: (1) the indistinctness whether curating is artistic or not, (2) who the real author of the exhibition is, and (3) a possible endangerment of the (artistic) autonomy of artists. Exceptional is that the issues are deeply intertwined with each other. I investigated the question if curating is artistic or not, from two perspectives. Firstly, a theoretical approach, to find answer in the philosophical notion of authorship. Secondly, a more practical approach: to which extent do the activities of the Artist-as-curator differ from that of the Curator-as-author. Cross-overs between professions might have been the cause, but were at the same time a solution to this issue. The question what someone calls itself has become irrelevant, the question what someone does has however become of more importance. The second issue deals with the authorship of the exhibition. The acceptance of the curator-as-author changed the relationship between the curator and the artist: to some extent they became competitors for artistic authorship. New ideas and visions on owner- and authorship are very visible in contemporary practices, which might already have been solving the issue of authorship. The third issue, autonomy of the artist, was a logical result of the claim on authorship. Some artists felt a problematic hierarchy between them and the curator. To establish a good relationship it might be good to get rid of hierarchy and create informal relationships. When doing this long-lasting collaborations are established and curators accomplish their core task that never changed since the time curators began to exist: to care and to take care of objects and subjects of value.

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@ Curatorial Department of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin

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