Today is the last day of my six month Curatorial Internship at the CAG. Well actually, as I write this it is fast approaching the last minutes of my tenure here.
I’ve been trying for a while now to distill my experience here into a series of anecdotes or learned facts, but I keep feeling like they don’t add up into something meaningful enough to describe what this internship has given me.
Ultimately, the most valuable thing I’ve been able observe is how an institution like the Contemporary Art Gallery functions and what a curator’s role is. As a viewer of an exhibition one rarely has a sense of how much work goes into every single miniscule detail. The CAG is able to pull it off because there is an incredibly dedicated staff here that ensures that everything from the carpentry in the installation to the design of the publication is immaculate.
I already knew that all of the curator’s choices and the judgements will be scrutinized, but I could not have anticipated the amount of personal responsibility you begin to take in making sure that ever detail is considered. There are pressures to be locally minded but not insular, to be international but not arrogant, to make your presence known but let the artist’s work shine, to be diplomatic, to be articulate, to be involved, to be discreet, to be social and to be studious. The funny thing is, all of these pressures just make me want to pursue this path more. Who wants to exist in a bubble? I want to have to answer to the highest standards possible, heck I want to eventually start setting those standards.
When I was interviewed for this position I remember Nigel asking me why I aspired to be a curator, between tangents and stuttering ‘umm’ I remember answering that one of the reasons was because I was interested in how an exhibition becomes much more than the sum of its parts. I still consider this to be a crucial element of exhibition making, but now I know that why I want to curate goes far beyond some logistical considerations and the launch of an ‘event’. Rather, it is because I want to keep learning, I want to make connections, I want to track histories, I want to explore visual languages, I want to ask questions, and mostly I want to be sincere in these pursuits.
Meredith Carr – Curatorial Intern