Marie Glassl: Thinking curational practice as bricolage


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

10:00 am

Event location: Goethe-Institut, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2PH

We live in a world that is constantly confronted with simultaneous movements of globalization and withdrawal; territorialization and decentralization. This includes a radical rededication and restructuring of real spaces while cultural practices such as dramaturgy or curation often seem incapable to reflect these changes in their own practice. Decolonization and cultural critique are working hard to the destroy the boundaries that reduce and define the objects of these fields: but is this equally valid in regard to the function, conventions, or self-understanding of these fields?

In thinking the practice of curation and dramaturgy as bricolage, I aim to detach them from their original connection to a very specific field of the arts (namely visual and performing arts) and claims of linguistic or intellectual sense-making. Quite the opposite, in my own practice I try to open them up to a much broader sense of building networks and tissues of thought in order to research an idea of "Iconologies of the In-Between" (Aby Warburg) that can help with the consideration and positioning of multiple aesthetics and epistemologies.

On waste and prodigality

I would like to explain this in connection to two projects I am currently working on: On wastedGrounds, a transdisciplinary exhibition and publication project coming up in 2024 and the translation of a text by Alice Ceresa – an early feminist Italian writer and poet – called The Prodigal Daughter.

Today, we seem confronted with a world that is socially, ecologically, ethically in ruins: But the deserts, the rubble on which we stand are also the rubbish and rags from which something new must emerge. Re-imaginings of an abandonment. The waste –that which is understood as worthless, as a non-value by the world and society– has always been ascribed a critical, an intrinsically literary potential by theorists such as Benjamin, Baudelaire or Krakauer. The ragpicker is an advocate and archivist, but also the writer of a future that is grounded and sheltered in memory, but at the same time radically transcends it.

In this sense, waste is also an excess, a surplus, the too-much: In times of climate crisis and sustainability prodigality appears understandably out of place. But a practice of bricolage needs to necessarily commit to a practice of prodigality: the assemblage of diverse or unfitting and forms and materialities. We need to ask for practices, that are able and willing to overstep limits of forms, topics, and disciplines, without turning their objects into vague and inseparable fields. Using bricolage cannot mean equalizing its different parts and erasing all singularity or difference internal to them; it defines a poeisis willing to tenaciously hold on to their specificity instead of nihilating them in a sameness that becomes indifference. Understanding curation as bricolage means creating a new prodigal practice; one, not based on singularity and hierarchy but on generosity and community.

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