Bad Curating

Imagine you finally get invited to the Venice Biennale and you end up in this mess, in the upper left corner no less….That is what I thought about Sgarbi’s (mostly) painting cluster Arte no est Cosa Nostra, which appalled the art world in the Italian pavilion of the Venice Biennal two years ago.

That was not the first thing I thought when they told me I was invited for a show in KW Berlin, as I self righteously assumed it is a solo show. A hand-picked group show at least, titled Fortune Cookie Conseptualism*. Or a respectful large-scale show titled Wikipediologicians- Amateur Foresincs and Private Investigations* or even a downright odd selection titled The Dog and Pony Show*.

Judy said:  You mean the show with the 70 painters?
(Sound of glass shattering) 

I put on a little bit of a stand, demanding more information. Pragmatic as ever, my gallery pointed out, participation is what matters and I shouldn't sweat the small stuff like artists list and title.

The most over hyped artists in 2013
Artists worth shit
69 artists just out of college and that Bpigs girl

“If it’s about the Death of Painting I don't wanna hear it!” I joked. Seriously that must be the world’s longer running publicity stunt. This is the third “painting show” I am invited to this fall. After Painting forever!, comes Why Painting Now and then Painters Paradise. I should have drawn the line at painters paradise, but I did not.
It seems that painters, much like female artists and project spaces (in Berlin) cannot be dealt with, unless grouped within themselves – very much like Spanish Erasmus students. 


I did not give up. 

-Would Ellen like to visit my current show in Mitte,  see how everything is installed in space....
-You understand of course that with so many artists Ellen does not have time to visit everybody. 
Ahm, yeah... but maybe not everybody has a show running now.... 
-Of course
-Could I use a shelf or a little podest in space. I rarely hang the canvases you know, they always lean on something. 
-No, the paintings should hang within the limitation of their own material.
This show feels like a punishment. 
- We need a picture of your work. Not for the catalogue, there will only be photos of the installation in there, but still, maybe we will need it for the press.
-This show is addressing a younger generation of viewers, who are not aware what painting is.
I swear I am NOT a painter. Can I go now? 


Later I met Ellen in Basel and got to know a bit more.
-Yeah, this is a show I inherited from my predecessor and now I am trying to do... 
Your worst. You are trying to do your worst, aren't you...

And it is. Bad curating. Crowding 70+ works in one room while you have a whole building, limiting their size to the equivalent of a stamp (120cm), hanging the works in the most neutralizing way possible (Peterburger/Salon style) and naming the whole thing “Keihlrahmen” is about as bad as it gets.

Is she pulling an Arthur
The name Ellen sure is mentioned a lot; is she still doing the Me Curating bit?
Have we lost another curator to KWitis? The internal-power-struggle-asthma that seems to be plaguing this institute.
Or is she Bad Curating as in Bad Painting? Deliberately disrespecting all rules that want curating to facilitate the exposure of artworks, order things in a way they make sense and/or are beautiful. Is she striping the show of any visual and curatorial value to focus on... well...peeing all over Udo Kittelmann’s shoes? Good for her.

Artist ego aside, I am curious to see it. Maybe it works. Maybe the show even makes the Prada Foundation freezers. And if not, well...

Painting is forever. Curating is for now.

Anselm Reyle: Untitled_AR Untitled, 2013 – © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Matthias Kolb

Painting Forever/JackQueenKingAce: Martin Eder, Michael Kunze, Anselm Reyle, Thomas Scheibitz will open at Neute National Gallerie this Friday 6.September

* Made up exhibitions by Aaron Moulton for An Art Newspaper. In April 2011 Aaron Moulton curated "A painting show" in Autocenter Berlin.

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