The Jester-Curator Symposium

On May 20th in Canterbury, The Jester-Curator Symposium. 


We are proposing to explore the  Jester-Curator model at a time when curatorial practice within the visual arts is increasingly concerned with the presentation of political and social polemics.

Traditionally the title of curator has been used to describe someone who cares for collections. However, more recently, within contemporary art practice it has been ascribed to someone who is responsible for creating a narrative based on a particular political, historical or psychological perspective amongst others.

From Will Sommers (court jester to Henry VIII) to Shakespeare’s Feste, the court jester is understood to occupy an exceptional position in the Royal court: his role as entertainer, wit and satirical observer allows him free expression – even the opportunity to mock the King without consequence. Traditionally the jester is depicted as an omniscient character, moving freely between court and kingdom and relaying his observations on either side of the castle walls.

The Jester-Curator model suggests that the topsy-turvy world of the Jester is not simply a place for foolishness; it is one where ‘acting out’ allows a release from day-to-day reality that enables fresh perspectives and alternate approaches. Yet it puts into question the Curator’s level of responsibility; to whom and what is she responsible and to what extent does the manner in which material and ideas are presented alter its content?

To what extent is the curator responsible to their audience to be a truthful storyteller and how does this reflect the curator’s ability to affect real social or political change?  Join our speakers and panel to examine the curator’s responsibility to reflect critically on the world around us, and to discuss the various ways that might be done.

Participants include T. J. Demos, Dave Beech, Pablo Leon de la Barra, Sally O’Reilly, Matthew Poole, and Gilda Williams.