Curating Contemporary Art Spring 10 - Outline

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Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

MCM 1700R - Curating Contemporary Art (CRN 25029)
Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Spring 2010


Instructor Information

Name: Mark Tribe
Email: Mark_Tribe AT brown DOT edu
Office Location: 155 George Street, Room 101
Office Hours : Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm and by appointment
Campus Box : 1957
Web Site:

Teaching Assistant Information

Name: Colleen Brogan
Email: Colleen_Brogan AT brown DOT edu
Campus Box: 5498
Web Site:

Course description

It is sometimes said in contemporary art circles that curators are the new artists. Curating involves a wide range of activities, including research, selection, commissioning, collaboration with artists, recontextualization, presentation, interpretation, and critical writing. This production seminar considers curatorial practice as a form of cultural production. Particular attention is paid to questions of spectatorship, materiality, and institutional context. Readings include Pierre Bordieu, Boris Groys, and Douglas Crimp. Students lead discussions, produce curatorial projects, and attend the Curating Contemporary Art: Perspectives in Practice lecture series co-sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, the RISD Museum, and the Graduate Studies Division at RISD.

Course Meeting Time and Location

Tuesdays 3:00-6:50pm.
Unless otherwise indicated, all course meetings take place in Production Two, MCM Production Building, 135 Thayer Street.

Lecture Series

This course is run in conjunction with the Curating Contemporary Art: Perspectives on Practice lecture series. Lectures will take place on Tuesdays at 6pm the RISD Museum's Metcalf Auditorium.

Course Goals

  1. Develop an understanding of contemporary curatorial practices and related theoretical positions.
  2. Produce curatorial projects that interrogate or extend key concepts and strategies articulated in class.
  3. Develop skills of critical analysis and communication.


+ A course packet will be available at Allegra (East Side 102 Waterman Street Providence, RI 02906). Packets are ordered and then printed for next day pick up, and Allegra is closed Saturday and Sunday--so keep this in mind for the first reading!
+ You will be responsible for leading discussion on one or more readings over the course of the semester.
+ When one of the readings you are responsible for is due, prepare 3-5 questions and email them to the Google Group at least 24 hours in advance.
+ If possible, coordinate with other students who are responsible for readings that day. You are welcome to consider alternative strategies for facilitating a lively and rigorous discussion--please discuss them with me in advance.


Projects are not considered complete until they have been:
+ Documented on a project page with the project title, images, text, and links as appropriate (don't skimp on images);
+ Linked-to from the student work page;
+ Linked-to from your personal wiki page.
+ See How to Document your Project for the Wiki for details.Projects will be presented in class during critique: be sure you have your media ready to go.

Late assignments will not be accepted without prior permission from me.

1. Online Exhibition: due March 2nd, 9th, 16th, or 23rd

Curate an online exhibition of contemporary art. Your exhibition venue can be any Internet platform (a new web site with its own domain, Google Sites, YouTube, Rhizome, Second Life, etc.), and you can include any kind of work (it doesn't have to be new media art). Your exhibition should include 5-7 works and should be organized around a specific and clearly defined theme or topic. Give your exhibition an interesting title, and find a way to include information about each work (artist's name, title, media, etc.), a short description of each work (no more than 200 words), and a 500-750 word curatorial statement that draws insightful connections among the works and discusses how they relate to the exhibition theme.

Here are some notes on curatorial process and on using Rhizome to create an online exhibition.

2. Exhibition Proposal: due April 6th

Create a proposal for a group curatorial project using the Google Docs Presentation tool. Your proposed project can any form (exhibition, event, intervention, poster series, you name it), use any venue (gallery, theater, public space, radio, online platform, etc.), and include any art form (installation, photography, performance, sound, painting, sculpture, film, print media). It should be ambitious but feasible given time and resource constraints. You will have 5-7 minutes to deliver your presentation.

3. Group Curatorial Project: due May 11th

Several of the proposed projects will be selected, and students will break into groups to realize them. Detailed project plans are due on April 20th. Requirements for documentation, curatorial texts, etc. will be defined for each group in consultation with me.

Attendance and Punctuality

Given the participatory nature of this course, it is important that everyone attend regularly and punctually. Plan to attend all course meetings. Please contact me in advance if you won't be able to make it to a class due to an unavoidable conflict or medical condition. Class starts on time, so please arrive on time. Students with multiple unexcused absences or excessive lateness may not pass the course.


This course may only be taken S/NC. Student performance is assessed in four areas:

  1. Quality of production work;
  2. Relevance of production work to the concepts and strategies explored in the course;
  3. Active participation in class meetings demonstrating critical engagement with course material (readings, screenings, art works);
  4. Attendance and punctuality.

Course Application

Please click here to complete the online application form.

Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

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