When I was in London I wanted a book to remember my first trip to the Tate Modern by. I picked ‘Ways of Curating’ by Hans Ulrich Obrist and went on what felt like a whole other trip through Europe. Going into artists’ homes and visiting early salon shows of France, following in the footsteps of Courbet, Manet and Caillebotte — the pioneers of artist run spaces after their rejection from The Academy (remember their self-organized pop-up show, Salon des Refusés?)
Obrist’s first curated apartment show took place in his kitchen (at age 23 in Switzerland). The chapter titled “The Kitchen” poignantly reads: “I began to think… whether it was really possible to do something new, combining all the networks I had been enmeshed with, the entire European Thinkbelt. It could be interesting to do something smaller after the 1980’s art scene.”
The show included a still life painting of coffee, fruit and fish () hanging over the stove, half a dozen marble eggs in the fridge and an open cup of chocolate pudding left on the counter. Artists and visitors were meant to explore the cupboards and crevices of the kitchen, forming their own path and experience along the exhibit, rather than informed by the typical gallery or salon set-up. As it was Obrist’s intention, this changed the way of the game for curators.
My favorite thought from the chapter Pioneers, where Obrist tells of the key practioners he has come across in the development of exhibitions.
“…these are are some of the pioneers I have come across, fragments from the past that have become a toolbox for me.”