The Contemporary Art Exhibition as an Artwork, The Curator as an Artist

On October 1st and 2nd in Ljubljana, the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory held a symposium on “The Changing Statuses of the Exhibition and the Curator in the Field of Contemporary Art.”

A program is online, as well as abstracts and biographies. The talks included:

  • Søren Grammel, “An Autobiographical Exhibition. On ‘Grandfather– A Pioneer Like Us,’ 1974, curated by Harald Szeemann”

    The lecture will focus on the process of creating an authorial position in the field of curatorial practice. It will concentrate on the exhibition Grandfather – A Pioneer Like Us, which was curated in 1974 by the Swiss exhibition-maker Harald Szeemann in a Bern flat. This project is a key exhibition that has not been taken into consideration in curatorial discourse to the extent it deserves, presumably because of its lack of size and publicity and the sparse documentation (no catalogue). However, it is not only the first (auto-) biographical exhibition, but also the first exhibition ever organized in a flat (by a curator). A further curatorial innovation was that Szeemann worked neither with artists nor with their works; he set up an environment consisting of furniture, objects and mementos from the estate of his grandfather, who died in 1971.


  • Philip Ursprung, “The world as museum: Harald Szeemann”

    For three decades, Harald Szeemann embodied the independent curator as a key figure in the art world. Although he declared his exhibitions as an alternative to the realm of the museum, I would argue that he stood at the forefront of its transformation. Do his exhibitions prefigure what Fredric Jameson defined as the culturalisation of reality, in other words, the seemingly endless expansion of culture and thus the gradual transformation of the world into a museum?