Curatorial Care, Humanising Practices: Past Presences as Present Encounters

Autograph ABP (London) and the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), (Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg) are hosting a three-day conference to coincide with the opening of Black Chronicles IV, an exhibition curated by Renée Mussai (Senior Curator and Head of Archive & Research at Autograph ABP) at the FADA Gallery.

Using the exhibition and photographic portraiture as a departure point, the conference will build upon a critical rethinking of curatorial practice, as traditionally bound to a colonial logic of collection, arrangement, ‘safe-keeping’ and display. Challenging the authorial custodianship associated with this tradition, and its historic (but lingering) application in the ethnographic/raciogenic arrangement of marginalised bodies, proposed in this reappraisal is an ethical recourse to curatorial care – where contemporary practices linked to traditional understandings of curating, as a ‘caring for objects’, are reconstituted in relation to (re)-acknowledged subjectivities.

In seeking to engage with such curatorial approaches – as practices through which, as Anthony Bogues suggests, “we may grasp how different acts of humanization occur’”1[1] – the conference will comprise an interdisciplinary programme of papers, presentations, panel discussions, screenings and performances. Through an engagement with a multiplicity of critical approaches to collection, presentation and display, and the ways in which these practices impact upon audience engagement, participants will reflect on curation as a means to facilitate opportunities for intersubjective encounters, through the re-inscription of voices historically consigned to the objectifying violence and routine silencing of colonial modernity.

Confirmed speakers:

Prof Anthony Bogues / Curator, Academic & Director of the Centre for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University

Prof Jay Pather / Curator, Choreographer & Director of the Institute for Creative Arts, University of Cape Town

Renée Mussai / Senior Curator and Head of Archive & Research, Autograph ABP, London

Prof Deborah Willis / Artist, Curator & Chair of the Dept. of Photography & Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Bogues, A. 2010. Empire of Liberty: Power, Desire, & Freedom. London: University Press of New England: 119.