About and around curating: Academic course (SAJ, 5-2013)


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As an extended part of independent curatorial project About and Around Curating / Kustosiranje, art historians and freelance curators Andre Bereta and Srdjan Tunić developed a special academic course for the University of Belgrade, Faculties of
  S A J _ 2013 _ 5 _ 330 Andrej Bereta, Srđan Tunić K  EY   WORDSCURATORIAL   STUDIESEXPERIENTIAL   LEARNINGPROCESSEXHIBITION   AS   A   PROJECTART   STUDIES Academic course: ABOUT AND AROUND CURATING: THE TECHNOLOGY OF AN EXHIBITION PROCESS-The Realization of project “Real World” Civil Association ARTIKAL review article approval date 01 10 2013 UDK BROJEVI: 371.214::[378.6:7(497.11)”2012/2013” ID BROJ: 204578060 A B S T R A C T As an extended part of independent curatorial project  About and  Around Curating / Kustosiranje , art historians and freelance curators Bereta and Tunić developed a special academic course for the University of Belgrade, Faculties of Architecture and Fine Arts during the autumn semester 2012/13. Rooted in experience  based methodology and inspired by contemporary curatorial studies in Europe, the ofcial course curriculum gathered undergraduate students of Architecture, Fine Arts (Department of Sculpture) and Art Historians. The aim of the course was to encourage team working of students of different backgrounds in order to create newly produced artworks, as part of a group exhibition. The course itself was intended to be a reaction and constructive critique towards the lack of cooperation between art faculties, low rate of practical activities during studies and seeing curatorial studies solely as a world of ideas.  S A J _ 2013 _ 5 _ 331    A  n   d  r  e   j   B  e  r  e   t  a ,   S  r   đ  a  n   T  u  n   i   ć_   A  b o u  t  a n  d   A r o u n  d   C u r a  t  i n g INTRO This paper explores the possibilities in education about curatorial practice, through analysis of one academic course which took place at the University of Belgrade for students of Architecture, Fine Arts Academy (Department for Sculpture) and future Art historians during the autumn semester of 2012. The course was developed at call in and cooperation with professors Milorad Mladenović (Faculty of Architecture) and Radoš Antonijević (Faculty of Fine Arts). The approach was empirical and different from the most dominant methods in the Serbian school system. Through this course the intention was to address three specic issues:The lack of any practical course for undergraduate students regarding art curating and production. Cooperation between faculties, in order to offer their students a kind of crossover knowledge and experience through mutual courses about issues which are in close relation with professional challenges which they will come across after graduation. Instead of a dry critique, as a possible solution, one course for the students of different faculties was created, in order to give them an opportunity to experience challenges in the “real world”.Speaking in a simplied fashion, curatorial practice is widely (stereotypically)  perceived as an activity which demonstrates possible realization of an idea, through conceptualization and, usually through the language of artworks in an exhibition (considered as a medium). Not quite opposite from that standpoint,  but with more sense for disseminating and recognizing the processes stages, it is believed that art curating is a technological process, which includes more activities, than usually mentioned. Moreover, different activities are countlessly correlated and in constant interaction between each other. If an exhibition is something that could be understood as a nal visible result 1 , it is  believed that same process might be understood as a complex set of activities including, for example business planning, and a whole set of different skills in order to reach the same goal. Those activities are usually parallel, and dependable on each other. Specic multitasking is something that almost inevitably art curator is dened nowadays as precarious cultural worker, with  potent entrepreneur skills 2 .Also, the aim of this course was to open possibilities for future artists, art historians and architects for producing a new artwork. That new artwork would  be the result of their mutual work, the proof and mirror of their knowledge  S A J _ 2013 _ 5 _ 332 gained. That result is not necessary something what one might understand as a new contemporary art production, but denitely more than an ordinary scholar practice. ORGANIZING COURSE, DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS Challenging invitation by two faculties’ professors (Architecture and Fine Arts) of the University of Belgrade (UB) to create the curriculum 3  for their students, resulted in one experimental proposal for one semester course for undergraduate students (Autumn/Winter 2012/2013). 4  The idea was to add one more group to the course, the students of The Department of History of Art (Faculty of Philosophy). It was believed that mixing different scholars’  backgrounds and various approaches could be more efcient and educative for each student. While professors Mladenović and Antonijević recruited students from their faculties, according to the propositions they followed, the students of History of Art were invited by an Open Call to participate. This also opened up an opportunity to change locations for sessions, which was both a new  practice for all of us (particularly an organisational challenge) and one more factor for strengthening educational process. Current art events in Belgrade were also part of the curriculum , where we had a chance to learn from each other by evaluating same art events with different and individual approaches. This was one of the ways to open the course towards the „real” surrounding art world and current production. Seven students were recruited from each faculty, altogether numbering twenty-one.Overcoming the lack of operative and interactive cooperation between faculties or even departments at the same school at UB in teaching process was more Figure 01.  Photo by Milorad Mladenović Figure 02.  Photo by Milorad Mladenović  S A J _ 2013 _ 5 _ 333 challenging obstacle than actually expected. 5  This situation led to some logical  presumptions. The students from different faculties were at the beginning very distant towards each other. While the students of Fine Arts were already accustomed to working in small groups and cooperating closely, the future art historians were having their lessons predominantly in classrooms, where they often mixed with different generations of colleagues and usually were not used to work in teams. The future architects were oriented towards working closely in teams and solving their scholar tasks as group projects. The last, but not the least, bridging gaps between theory and practice lies as a core issue for most educational programmes, which was intensied by having undergraduate students from three (still, art) faculties. Idealistically, it was expected from our students to possess certain knowledge about art and curatorship in order to develop a structuralized approach with practical solutions and skills with clear intentions for producing a new artwork, as one of the course’s result. METHODOLOGY, APPROACH The methodology used for building this course, as well as for the previous and later programs 6 , might be described as experience  –  based  7 . Different, or even opposite to didactical, which is the dominant method in Serbian educational system on every level, our approach was oriented towards acquiring the experience of all stakeholders, including us, the teachers. Understanding learning process as expanding personal experiences spanning over one’s whole lifetime, gained individually or in interaction with others, it was tried to gradually take issues  as challenges , to reach mutual goal. Believing that every  person has many skills, and even if he/she is sometimes unaware of them as  skills , we tried to  provoke  situations, which could bring them to surface. The lessons taught to the students were taken as a set of possible solutions, different viewpoints of the same matter, trying to underline the possibility of creative interpretation of each student by the given concept. For instance, when  Art Curator was the topic, we tried to explain the activities which the  profession might consist of, depending on circumstances, work environment and responsibilities, which could be further developed by one’s individual choices and afnities. During the rst encounter with the students, after having presented the topics of forthcoming Academic course and phases/steps of realization, several words or terms, important as a structure for the concept of the course, were underlined.    A  n   d  r  e   j   B  e  r  e   t  a ,   S  r   đ  a  n   T  u  n   i   ć_   A  b o u  t  a n  d   A r o u n  d   C u r a  t  i n g  S A J _ 2013 _ 5 _ 334   −  Proactivity  was explained as a (preferred) choice of strategy. The aim was to open a possibility for students’ self-reection and future self-education, avoiding decision making which is “reserved” for authorities in charge of the course (us and professors).   − Share culture  was understood as a necessary condition for equivalency, the balance between what we give (as teachers), in exchange for what we take from the others (the students). This point was seen as very important for gaining new information, knowledge and for building healthy interpersonal relations. − Openness  as a preferred personal attitude. It was believed that behind every quality result there lied successful collaboration between the individuals who share different roles and responsibilities between each other, as a team work  .   −  Argumentation  was considered as a necessity both as a background for an opinion, personal statement, as well as a solid material for group in  building mutual structure, in order to achieve a goal. − This  list    of responsible terms  included one more word – transparency , which was understood both as an educational and ethical choice,  because it made all stages of the process visible for all participants in the course.The rst meeting included one short role-play, in order to gain each other’s’ attention, and to understand the importance of communication between colleagues, no matter how individual differences and not being familiar with the most of the group might be an obstacle. Following this short game, the atmosphere become more relaxed, and we were sure that our methodology started reaching our participants. By avoiding pre-made denitions and Figure 03.  Photo by Anastasja Protić Figure 04.  Photo by Nina Ivanović
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