Definitions: curator, curating, critical distance
Curating as practice
Our mission springs from the interests, motivations and methodologies of contemporary curatorial practice, foregrounding critical inquiry, collaboration, and experimentation in making new connections between artists, art forms, ideas, images, objects, environments, and audiences. In providing an open platform for the support and presentation of research, development, writing, design, and production of exhibitions and other curatorial projects, Critical Distance seeks to stimulate curiosity, conversation, and critical thinking on contemporary culture and the act of curating itself through the lenses of collecting, organizing, displaying, and viewing or experiencing.
Our open platform
Eschewing prescribed themes, disciplines, credentials, and other explicit or implicit barriers to participation, ours is an open platform for eclectic, inclusive, experimental, and interdisciplinary programming. However, this does not mean that our platform is a free-for-all. While we provide opportunities for curators and artists who are emerging or established, local or international, and engaged in the expanded field of curatorial and artistic practice, whether focused on material experimentation, conceptual investigation, socio-political activism, and beyond—all are challenged to consider new, expansive, innovative, and accessible approaches to the display and dissemination of ideas, objects, and experiences within the dynamic and generative contexts of curating, exhibition and event-making, and contemporary art.
What is critical distance?
We are often asked why Critical Distance was chosen as the name for our centre. In thinking about the many roles that curators play in bringing artists, audiences, organizations, and environments together in an exhibition or event, two aspects stand out as minimum requirements to delineate and distinguish the curatorial role from that of any other within the context of contemporary art presentation. First, there is the curatorial premise, which can be a question, speculation, proposition, assertion, or idea to be tested within the fertile ground of the art encounter. This premise, which is conditioned by the curator’s own subjectivity, positionality, and professional practice, comprises the “critical” aspect of a project — the curatorial inquiry as impetus for research, relationship-building, writing, and producing of the exhibition or project as a space for premise to become program, process, provocation in the production of new communal knowledges and possibilities.
We chose Critical Distance for our new name because it is precisely this distance that affords curators the space to engage critically with the work of another. It is this perspective at a slight remove which fundamentally differentiates the curatorial or critical voice from that of the artist or maker. For more information, click the link above for a discussion on Quora.