Reconceptualising Curating

Published in Neue Luxury, Issue 6, 2016.

Forget standard gatekeeping. In today’s art world, a primetime curator is expected to toggle between curator, critic, writer, historian, researcher, broker and advocate. Limitless in their drive to forecast, translate and influence their spheres, a curator must also rigorously keep on top of an escalating orbit of new artists, concepts, spaces, exhibitions and biennials. From the star-curators whose names are among the most uttered, to the rising vanguards carving shapes outside the dominant Western sphere, we uncover the luminaries who are nailing down a new and provocative landscape for contemporary art.


For 40 years, the canals between nature, beauty and environment have been Vervoordt’s calling card. The pioneering Belgian interior designer and antiquarian is currently transforming a former distillery into a hybrid hub of lifestyle, work, nature and culture, dubbed Kanaal: a city in the country. Last year he teamed up with architecture and exhibitions design guru Daniela Ferretti for the second time to curate Proportio at Venice’s Palazzo Fortuny, where Ferretti is director. The avant-garde project explored parallels in art, medicine, science, economics, architecture and music, and included a sound based collaboration between Marina Abramovic and sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson.


In 2012 ArtReview anointed Carolyn Christov-Bakaragiev first position in its Power 100 list—the first time a curator or a woman topped the index. That same year, the American writer and art historian boldly expanded dOCUMENTA 13’s traditional visual art curriculum by curating philosophers, historians and theorists. Christov-Bakargiev, who once described art as a type of ‘renewable energy’ for its mutative abilities, goes double duty this year as director of Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna and Castello di Rivoli, both in Turin.


Since hosting his first group show in his kitchen featuring Christian Boltanski, the in-demand Swiss curator, art historian and writer has presented over 300 exhibitions. The co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery and author of A Brief History of Curating is also known for conducting 24 hour marathon interviews with luminaries of art, science and history. Obrist, whose favourite word is said to be ‘urgent’, will launch the Shanghai Project in 2016 as a cross-disciplined inquiry into the effects of global warming.

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Image: Hans Ulrich Obrist. Photo: Pal Hansen.