Doing the Work – Curation and Display: The Stories We Tell, the Knowledge We Produce, 20 January 2021

2 February 2021

Part of ‘Doing the Work’, an online CPD workshop series co-produced by the Contemporary Art Society and the Decolonising Arts Institute (University of the Arts London). Read more.

This first workshop in our Doing the Work series focused on curation and display in museums and galleries. Questions for the discussion included:

What curatorial strategies might be considered decolonial or anti-racist in approach? What questions, approaches and behaviours should curators be embedding into their day-to-day practices? How can an anti-racist or decolonial approach be developed in relation to collections that are ethnically diverse, and conversely, in relation to collections that are not?  Should artworks depicting violent colonial histories ever be included in exhibitions and displays, and if so, why/how? What curatorial models can be used when displaying work by artists whose biographies and attitudes are deemed problematic/racist/colonial? How can anti-racist and/or decolonial curatorial approaches be developed in contexts where such approaches are resisted or even discouraged?

This workshop opened with a discussion between Nikita Gill (Iniva Curatorial Trainee, Manchester Art Gallery) and Kate Jesson (Modern and Contemporary Curator, Manchester Art Gallery), moderated by Professor Paul Goodwin (Chair of Contemporary Art and Urbanism, University of the Arts London). Click here for participant biographies.

Video Timings:
00’00 – Introduction from Paul Goodwin
12’00 – Presentation by Kate Jesson
28’20 – Presentation by Nikita Gill
39’15 – Discussion

The workshop groups are not included in this recording to maintain the confidentiality of the discussions, however a written report from the day will be available shortly.


Further Reading:

Ahsan, Hamja. Shy Radicals: The Anti-systemic Politics of the Introvert Militant. Books Works: 2017.

Harney, Stefano and Fred Moten. The undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Minor Compositions, 2013.

Lorde, Audre. Your Silence will not protect you. Silver, 2017.

Marshall, Herbert. Ira: the African RosciousRochester Studies in AfricanHistory and the Diaspora, 1958.

Otele, Olivette. African Europeans: An Untold History. Hurst Publisher, 2020.

What is the Use? Constellations: a history of art and knowledge. A Critical Reader. Valiz, 2016.



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