TEXTE ZUR KUNST is a Berlin-based quarterly journal on contemporary art and art theory with contributions by internationally leading writers on contemporary art and culture. Since 2006 the comprehensive main section section, each time devoted to a different topic, is published in both German and English.
The June issue of Texte zur Kunst is dedicated to the curator, a figure in the art field that has gained authority over the past two decades. Ever since Harald Szeemann’s trendsetting documenta 5 (1972), “the independent curator” has counted as a new preeminent player in the art world. No longer employed by a museum but instead an initiator and author of project-based presentations at various institutions, the figure of the curator is also associated with the emergence of thematic group shows in which artworks, everyday objects, and documents, as equally treated exhibits, are meant to illustrate a hypothetical curatorial concept. In the art world of the 1990s—which was characterized by relations and interdisciplinarity, contexts and displays—curatorial activities were both popularized and professionalized. Curators increasingly acted as skilled networkers whose influence also grew due to the rising number of international biennials. At the same time, the notion of the curator or of curating has expanded beyond the confined boundaries of the art field and can now be found in all areas of cultural production. Against this backdrop the June issue of Texte zur Kunst examines how this rapid rise came about and what curatorial power really means. Thus, a perspective is opened that allows taking a fundamental look at the hegemonic structures in the art business and its effects.