DEATH TO THE CURATOR – Artist-run culture in the Nordic region

Edited by Kunsthall Oslo

Design by Laurits Hanak and Adam Bloch

204 pages

Print: TS Trykk Offset

Paper: Munken Lynx Rough

Edition of 450

Language: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish

Published by Kunsthall Oslo

Price: 25 €

Contributions by: Alta Art Space, Andromeda 8220, Bananskolen & Goodiepal, Gize, hangmenProjects, Khartoum Contemporary Art Center, Honza Hoeck, Kling & Bang, Manège, Marie Thams, Podium, Skogen, Small Projects, Sorbus, Sydhavn Station, Tenthaus, Third Space, Vandaler forening and Vermilion Sands.

Death to the Curator – Artist-run culture in the Nordic region is a printed publication released in relation to the exhibition in Oslo (Mar-May 2021) of the same title.

From the outset, we have tried to surrender central control where possible, with each partner taking responsibility for their contributions to each part of the project — exhibition, publication, conference. So while, in a general sense, the project has followed the conventional editorial and curatorial processes, insofar as it has involved making selections, arranging works in the exhibition, providing (some) contextual information, disseminating material and so on, any centrally imposed rules were left open to interpretation. For this publication each participant, in alphabetical order, was given control over a share of the available pages. The range of responses we received – from essay to comic, poem to manifesto – exemplifies the diversity of the participating groups and, in point of fact, the diversity within the groups themselves.

Death to the Curator is a collaboration between Kunsthall Oslo and 16 artist-run initiatives from the Nordic region. The project consists of a public exhibition of newly commissioned works ­– large-scale silkscreen prints, sculpture, textile, video, opera – and an ambitious publication with contributions from the collaborators and external writers, as well as a range of digital events — a "distributed conference" — fitted to a pan-Nordic project under the conditions imposed by the pandemic.

Why celebrate artist-run culture now? In recent years artist-run spaces in the Nordic region have taken on new forms. Some organise as schools, some as part of the commercial gallery circuit, some as primarily social platforms or research collectives, yet others as hybrids of the above. The increasing diversity of the field is the result, we suspect, of a combination of traditional restraints (such as funding, space limitations, institutional impact) and of new possibilities (structural and technological). In any case, the artist-run landscape is changing, and we want to map it out.

Why kill the curator? In apparent contrast to the above, the established art world has continued the organizational shift towards larger arenas, further professionalisation and ever-more specialised positions. A shift of which the contemporary curator is an obvious beneficiary; or rather, a shift in the image of the curator. What is potentially lost in this process are the self-organised exhibitions, the artists' own expressions of collective action and, ultimately, difference.

Death to the Curator is the love child of these parallel developments and we invite you to join us at the celebration!

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