{ Making Impossible Things Possible }

December 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

In Harper’s “Readings” last month, there’s a clever excerpt from Ways of Curating, a new book by Hans Ulrich Obrist. He is the codirector of exhibitions and programs and of international projects at the Serpentine Galleries in London. I love what he said at face value, but it also struck me in regard to my own future projects:

“Boetti told me that if I wanted to curate, I should under no circumstances do what everybody else was doing—just giving artists a certain room and suggesting that they fill it. More important would be to talk to the artists and ask them which projects they could not realize under existing conditions. Ever since, this has been a central theme of my exhibitions. I don’t believe in the creativity of the curator. I don’t think that the exhibition-maker has brilliant ideas around which the ideas of the artists must fit. Instead, the process always starts with a conversation, in which I ask the artists what their unrealized projects are and then find the means to realize them. At our first meeting, Boetti said curating could be about making impossible things possible.”

As I meditate on running a platform for writers and artists, especially in a region where they aren’t very well cultivated, this kind of thought has come to mind: By providing a space for expression, it becomes your joy and responsibility to help artists realize their vision. (Obrist again: “I think of my work as that of a catalyst – and sparring partner.” And, “It’s worth thinking about the etymology of curating. It comes from the Latin word curare, meaning to take care.” And, “I think a good curator is like a good chef. They understand the city’s needs – and fulfil and challenge them.”)

I also think about this kind of think as a writer and an artist. I have so many ideas. Creative projects, collaborations, cultural dissections and juxtapositions, ecological solutions proposed in new and interesting ways. Now, I don’t usually pitch these ideas to established publications. What’s the point, right? I know the drill: front-of-book, feature well, back-of-book. There are prescribed formulas, and especially as a fairly unestablished writer, anything other than the standard format seems unattainable.

Of course, as I write this, I think, “Geezus, Casagrand, way to be defeatist.” The one time I did suggest something out of the ordinary, it was accepted and made into something. So . . . maybe writers should act bolder, too.

Either way, it feels right to establish something fresh on the foundation of “making impossible things possible.” I think that’s an alright start.

{ Also }

Listening
“Borderline”
by Tove Styrke, “I’m Aquarius” by Metronomy, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (SKULS RIP)” by Kendrick Lamar

Published
“Artists and River Rats: Supporting the Cultural Ecology of the Missouri River” on Art of the Rural, and “Millions of Ash Trees Are Dying, Creating Huge Headaches for Cities” on the National Geographic online (!!!)

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