Does art/do artists really need curators? The main purpose of an exhibition is to present artworks, artistic concepts and forms in a meaningful and convincing way. For this to be successful, the art must be given the maximum amount of space it requires and be shown in the best possible conditions. In this sense, the role of the “exhibition maker” – to borrow Harald Szeemann’s accurate description – is first and foremost to be a supportive partner who works alongside artists, an intermediary and facilitator who creates opportunities, asks critical questions, scrutinizes what is to be presented and helps to remove structural or technical obstacles – and thereby also has the opportunity to set new standards.
The responsibilities of exhibition organization also include direct engagement with the viewing public. Artistically uncompromising, focussed and convincing, the exhibition and the institution must at the same time fulfil their educational mission and embrace their role as mediators communicating in the language of art. Processes and skills of precise observation, questioning, contemplation and appropriation have to be effectively cultivated in museum structures that are often perceived as rather authoritarian.
Nowadays, however, the curatorial gaze extends far beyond the confines of art in a ‘classical’ sense. Above all in areas where art intersects with design, architecture or everyday culture, there are challenging points of friction that require a refocussing of the gaze. Combining such cognitive interests with the sensuousness of spatial experiences and the fascinating complexity of artistic propositions produces exhibitions that offer promising prospects for the future.
Roland Nachtigäller (2011)