About this call for participants and working group

We are currently seeking participants to take part in a new 7-week working group Institutional Apparatuses, or, the Museum as Form, organized by Kirsten Gill and Lauren Rosenblum in the James Gallery at the Graduate Center, CUNY. This working group will be meeting bi-monthly to read and discuss topics exploring the sites and structures within which museums reflexively grapple with their ethical obligations.

This working group is conceived to be fully participatory and collaborative. Sessions will consist of short talks by invited guests, followed by open discussion of their contributions to the topic and of suggested readings, which will be shared ahead of time with registered participants. Space is limited and priority will be given to those who can commit to being part of the conversation over the course of the semester. Click here to RSVP to join and participate in this semester-long working group and to access the readings.

Join the group and conversation at our first meeting Thursday, September 5th at 5:30pm in the Graduate Center, CUNY (room tba) with guest speaker Michelle Millar Fisher, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, MFA Boston, on "Art/Museum Salary Transparency Project: Administration and Wage Labor in the Contemporary Museum"

Guests for the fall will include artist Pablo Helguera, Deana Haggag of United States Artists, Ryan Dennis of Project Row Houses, initiator of the Art/Museum Salary Transparency Project Michelle Fisher, Connie Choi of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Michael Connor of Rhizome, and Binna Choi of Casco Art Institute.


See below or click here for more information and the schedule of meetings and guest speakers for this Fall working group.

While the exhibition has come to define the profile of curating and its museums as the primary site of social or political engagement with the public, a number of contemporary visual arts organizations and their workers endeavor to shed this inheritance. Instead, they pursue their missions through close, revisionary engagement with the administrative, logistical, and programmatic armatures that prop up cultural institutions - that domain of activities that has elsewhere been called the “paracuratorial.” We take the “paracuratorial” to imply the culture worker’s obligations outside of exhibition-making (programming, education, education, stewardship, archiving, administration, and the like), along with the infrastructures of extra-exhibitionary activity. Unlike the temporary exhibition, this working group proposes, these function as primary sites of the institution’s politics, knowledge production, and sociality. The group will investigate genealogies that trace how contemporary curating became a saturated medium, and will focus on the sites and structures within which museums reflexively grapple with their ethical obligations.

Study is divided into two parts over the course of the semester: the first will investigate the various prosthetics of institutions (including collections, archives, finance, and programming) through case studies that attempt to redefine them, and the second will engage with new institutional formats that interrogate the frames of exhibition making (through, for example, forms of community, collectivity, dispersal, and opacity).

Shared reading lists and guests will aid in the exploration of such fundamental questions as:

In what ways do arts institutions express their politics not, as is commonly thought, through the declarative mode of the exhibition, but rather through their administrative and logistical apparatuses? And how might these operations be held accountable?

In what ways have practitioners chosen to take on the entrenched cultural institution as a form, and to what effect? In what ways is the history of art institutions an appealing form? How are these forms being, or how might they be, remade?

In what ways does the redefinition of the institution serve the public interest?

Schedule and Guests:

All meetings take place in the James Gallery at the Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth ave, NYC, unless otherwise indicated:

Organized by Kirsten Gill and Lauren Rosenblum at in the James Gallery at the Graduate Center, CUNY, this working group emerged from the Curatorial Practicum course in the PhD Program in Art History at the Graduate Center and is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.