Many young art guys and girls spend years dreaming about the days they can one day organise their own exhibitions. The question is though, how? What tools and experiences do we need to become the next superstar curator? Well, we asked our favourite female curators for their tips!
Curate Imaginary Shows
“See lots of art, historical and contemporary”, says Daria Khan, Founder of London’s Mimosa House, “Start by doing projects and exhibitions with friends, at yours or someone’s home. Work as an artist’s or curator’s assistant, it’s a good way to get to know the field. Find your places of inspiration and go there to generate ideas. Curate your imaginary shows with artists you like, it’s a good exercise.”
Don’t Be Afraid To Make Things Happen Yourself
“Support your creative friends and don’t be afraid to ask – if you want to do a show, go and ask for money, venue, artists, anything. Don’t wait for it”, explains Assistant Curator at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and founder of Banat Collective Sara Safwan, “Do it yourself!! I fully believe in independency and if no-one will take you in – just do it yourself.”
Have A Clear Vision
“Make sure your vision is clear. What does the visitor take away from the show? Have you left them thinking? Have you moved them? Have you delighted them? The best shows are not just surface level, they have ‘meat’.”, says Aindrea Emelife, Founder Aindrea Contemporary.
Write, Write and Write Some More
“Beyond the obvious things, write a lot”, says Rachel Dedman, Jameel Curator of Contemporary Art from the Middle East at the Victoria and Albert Museum, “It’s a really good way to get to grips with material. Writing is a key skill of curatorial work and pitching articles and writing for different outlets can be a really good way to build a portfolio and to meet people and forge relationships within the industry. Try and get published. Making exhibitions from nothing and with no money can be hard, but to write doesn’t require any infrastructure except you and your thoughts. Developing a critical voice is really essential to the work you would end up doing. Having a history of publishing and writing is a great asset in applications.”
All Experience Counts
“Any art-related experience matters, not necessarily curatorial”, says Joud Halawani Al Tamimi, Curator at The Lab, Darat Al Funun. “Visit lots of exhibitions, check their reviews, and read heavily on art and social or political issues that you’d like your work to address. Also, you don’t need a degree. Just visit lots of exhibitions and read their reviews.”
“Start by curating small scale exhibitions or happenings, nothing that needs too much funding.”, adds Joud, “And curate beyond exhibitions. Experiment with formats less dependent on resources, ones that allow more flexibility and fluidity. And, most importantly, don’t be intimidated by know-it-all curators!”
Text Lizzy Vartanian