ФЕДЕРАЛЬНОЕ ГОСУДАРСТВЕННОЕ БЮДЖЕТНОЕ ОБРАЗОВАТЕЛЬНОЕ УЧРЕЖДЕНИЕ
ВЫСШЕГО ПРОФЕССИОНАЛЬНОГО ОБРАЗОВАНИЯ
«САНКТ-ПЕТЕРБУРГСКИЙ ГОСУДАРСТВЕННЫЙ УНИВЕРСИТЕТ»
Москалёва Екатерина Александровна
Кураторы современного искусства как культурные посредники:
опыт Германии и России
Contemporary art curators as cultural intermediaries:
German and Russian experience
на соискание степени магистра
по основной образовательной программе высшего образования
по направлению 040100 «Социология»,
профиль «Европейские общества» / MA «Studies in European Societies»
Научный руководитель / Scientific supervisor:
кандидат социологических наук,
доцент Хохлова А.М./
associate professor, Dr. Anisya Khokhlova.
Рецензент / Reviewer:
MA, lecturer of sociology department,
National Research University Higher School of Economics
junior research associate, Center for Youth Research
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Theoretical approaches to investigation of curatorial practices……………………...........7
1.1. The production of culture perspective: Richard Peterson’s approach………………………….7
1.2. Curators in the “art world”: Howard Becker……….………………………………………….9
1.3. Position of curators in the field of cultural production: Pierre Bourdieu…….……………….10
1.3.1. The notion of field…………………………………………………………………..10
1.3.2. The field of cultural production……………………………………………………..12
1.3.3. Forms of capital……………………………………………………………………..14
22.214.171.124. Economic capital…………………………………………………………..14
126.96.36.199. Cultural capital…………………………………………………………….15
188.8.131.52. Social capital………………………………………………………………17
184.108.40.206. Symbolic capital……………………………………………………....…..17
1.3.4. Curators as cultural intermediaries……………………………………………….…18
1.3.5. Criticism towards Bourdieu’s approach………………………………………..……19
1.4. Analysis of curatorship through the lens of sociology of profession…………………………19
1.4.1. Curators as creative professionals……………………………………………..…….20
1.5. Research on curatorship: two perspectives………...………………………………….21
1.5.1. Insider perspective………………………...……………………………………...…21
1.5.2. Sociological perspective…………………….………………………………………26
Chapter 2: The results of comparative empirical research………...…………………………………..28
2.1. The logic of data collection and analysis…………...…………………………………………………28
2.1.2. Working with data: transcribing, coding, analysing…...……………………………………30
2.1.3. Challenges: access to the field and research limitations…………………………………….31
2.2. Empirical analysis: curatorship in St.Petersburg……………………………………………………...32
2.2.1. Artistic institutions represented in the research sample (St.Petersburg)……….…………...32
2.2.2. Becoming a curator: classical education vs. newcomers……….………….……...………...34
220.127.116.11. Art historians as curators………………………………………....……………….34
18.104.22.168. Curatorial academic background………………………………………....……….35
22.214.171.124. Academic background as a source of social capital………………………............37
126.96.36.199. Family background………………………………………....……………………..38
2.2.3. Curators in state artistic institutions……………………….………………………………..40
2.2.4. Curators in private artistic institutions and self-run projects.……………………………….43
188.8.131.52. Curatorship in a private museum………………….………………………………43
184.108.40.206. Self-run curatorial projects………………….…………………………………….45
2.2.5. Curator and artist: having a show………………………………………....………………...47
2.2.6. Curatorship in St.Petersburg today: overcoming challenges……………….……………….50
2.3. Empirical analysis: curatorship in Hamburg…………………………………....…………………….52
2.3.1. Artistic institutions represented in the research sample (Hamburg)………………………...52
2.3.2. Joining the profession: academic background………....…………………………………....53
2.3.3. Freelancers and employees: curators working in Hamburg………………………………....54
2.3.4. Working with contemporary artists and art in Hamburg………………………………........61
2.3.5. Artistic scene in Hamburg and a role of a curator……..………………………………........63
2.4. Curator as a cultural intermediary in two national contexts……..………………………………........65
2.5. Curatorial practices: duties and tasks…………………………………....…………………………….68
Contemporary art has always drawn great interest of the public and triggered heated discussions,
and currently the process of performing and presenting contemporary art makes the focus of sociological
investigations more frequently than in previous years. Consequently, in the recent decades researchers
have started to examine curatorial’ practices from different perspectives, contributing to the study of the
professional artistic field in general, as well as to the analysis of this specific professional cluster of
curators (Acord, 2010). Сontemporary art curators play an important role in the artistic scene due to the
growing importance of mediating between artistic representation, operation on the art market as an
economic structure, facing bureaucratic challenges, dealing with media, and increasingly significant
educational functions of artistic institutions. In this paper, contemporary art curators will be analyzed from
different theoretical perspectives in two national contexts – the Russian one and the German one - due to
Firstly, I assume that curators operate as mediators between artists, museums and galleries, the
government, the media, the publics and other actors of the field. Secondly, curating, being a relatively new
professional field, plays a significant role in the processes of cultural production and consumption and
thus becomes an interesting subject of inquiry for sociologists. Curators perform a set of professional and
communicative functions in the field by realizing different communication practices and applying
professional skills which will be investigated in this research. Finally, I am going to compare the
experience of curating in Russia and Germany as examples of national artistic scenes by taking the cases
of curatorship in St. Petersburg and Hamburg into particular focus.
In order to clarify the research logic, it is important to provide definitions to the major analytical
concepts which are used in the current work. First of all, it is necessary to define curating practices as the
process of creation of meanings and contribution to public dialogues about ideas and art strategies which
address the world in its complexity. Curating can be also seen as the process of creating opportunities for
artists, based on the traditional role of researching and developing collections within art institutions, and
organizing exhibitions. The study of this process focuses on contemporary art. Contemporary art in this
context is understood as a complex of art practices that has been shaped in the second half of the 20th
century and that aims at developing new forms of artistic expression by using unconventional tools (e.g.
new materials, technologies, forms of interaction with the audience).
According to governmental statistics, the number of contemporary art exhibitions organized in St.
Petersburg has amazingly increased over the last two years. In 2014, there were 1076 contemporary art
exhibitions, while in 2013 – only 773 exhibitions. Interestingly, in 2011 the number of exhibitions
amounted to 652, and in 2012 this number remained stable as there were 677 exhibitions functioning. St.
Petersburg, being the cultural capital of Russia, can also be seen as the center of the formation and
institutionalization of new curatorial practices. Some further evidence for that is the growing number of
different art projects, art spaces and exhibition halls in the city. Yet another important evidence is the
recent art event - the large scale international project Manifesta.10 which took place in St. Petersburg in
2014 and became the most discussed and complex exhibition of the year.
The institutionalisation of curatorship as a profession is partly expressed by the development of
specific educational programs. A growing number of private courses for those who are willing to become
professional curators are established in St. Petersburg. For example, a curator school founded in the Art
center Pushkinskaya 10 enjoys increasing popularity. Furthermore, the professional field of curatorship
also has a growing number of representatives gaining their academic degree in the biggest university of
the city: in 2005, formal educational program “Art Criticism” was launched at the faculty of Liberal Arts
and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, in cooperation with Bard College. In 2014 an even more
specified MA programme “Curatorial Studies” was introduced there.
Interestingly, sociological studies of curators and curatorship are still lacking in Russia, even
though there are some articles reflecting this issue, and in Russia the analysis of curatorial practices is
largely performed by curators themselves. Meanwhile, it is essential to understand the specificity and
structure of curatorial practices constituting public tastes, opinions and perceptions in the field of
contemporary art which becomes a powerful tool of gaining knowledge and information by the public.
At this point, the analyses of curatorial practices existing in a more stable form than in St.
Petersburg and generally Russia becomes relevant. In my eyes, the experience of German curators might
provide the research with valuable insights due to the fact that curators in the German artistic scene
occupies a legitimate position for a longer period of time.
The main research question of the current paper is formulated as follows: What are the
professional practices and strategies of curators in two national and city contexts (St. Petersburg and
Hamburg) shaping the process of cultural production and consumption and mediating between artists,
museums, galleries, governments, publics, etc., to create and promote an exhibition or an art project?
In order to provide a full picture of curatorship practices, the following working research questions
have been developed:
What are the biographical trajectories of joining the professional community of curators?
What is the level of institutionalization of the profession of curator in Germany and
Who are the major actors involved in curatorial communication?
Which channels of communication are used by curators and how?
What kind of functions and responsibilities are performed by curators?
What are their strategies of communication and cooperation in cultural mediation?
What are the specific features of the local artistic scenes of Petersburg and Hamburg and
what is their influence upon curating?
The comparative perspective of this research is aimed to provide a deeper analysis of the situation
inside this specific professional field by exploring the personal experiences of different types of curators.
The qualitative methodology which includes semi-structured interviews with curators allows to collect
unique materials covering the personal experience of creative professionals working in different types of
art institutions. The typological sample includes, firstly, curators working at state museums such as the
Hermitage, secondly, curators of exhibitions at private museums such as Erarta and observations of their
work, thirdly, curators of public art projects, and, finally, representatives of private art galleries.
This paper is divided into two chapters: the first one provides an overview of theoretical
approaches applied in the research, namely, the concepts of cultural production suggested by Richard
Peterson, Howard S. Becker, and Pierre Bourdieu; the analysis of curatorial practices from the perspective
of sociology of professions and creative economy, and the overview of existing studies on curatorship
performed by sociologists and curators themselves. The second chapter provides a description of applied
methodology and analysis, and includes major findings and conclusion drawn in fieldwork.
Finally, the main insights are explained in the detailed conclusion, and some research limitations
are discussed, too. The appendixes provide the methodological tools applied in the research such as the
interview guide, as well as the two examples of conducted interviews representing the German and
Theoretical approaches to investigation of curatorial practices
Sociology of art has quite a long theoretical tradition, and since contemporary art curators are also
analysed in as important actors of art world, I would like start with an overview of sociological traditions
investigating into artistic scenes and processes that complement each other and are used as part of the
theoretical frame of my research. Due to the fact that curators do not produce art themselves, but rather
present artworks and their creators to the public, I shall stick to sociological theories describing the
process of cultural production as a complex and heterogeneous social phenomenon. The first paragraph of
this chapter will describe the analytical notions reflecting the collective character of artistic production
and introduced in the works by Richard Peterson and Howard. S. Becker. The second paragraph analyzes
the notions essential to the understanding of curators as cultural intermediaries; here, I resort to the theory
of cultural production by Pierre Bourdieu. Both paragraphs also include some criticism addressed to these
The position of curators on the labour market and the specific features of curatorship as
professional occupation are discussed in the third paragraph of this chapter. Here, I attempt to develop a
synthesis of several analytical approaches which tend to overlap with each other, as well as with the
theoretical notions described in the previous paragraphs. Moreover, continuing the line of analysis of
curatorial practices as inherently collective, I describe curators as representing a group of creative
Finally, the last paragraph of the theoretical chapter provides an overview of existing research on
curatorial practices including the insider perspective (self-reflection of curators) and the outsider
perspective - sociological research of curatorship.
1.1. The production of culture perspective: Richard Peterson’s approach
Richard Peterson can be considered as the founding father of cultural production tradition in social
science since he was the first scholar to focus on the symbolic notions produced by the cultural field and
to reflect various forms related to the cultural production such as science, art, religion, etc. (Farkhatdinov,
2008) First of all, it should be mentioned that cultural production can be understood in two ways: in the
broader sense, cultural production refers to the production of any forms of meanings in the process of
social interactions; whereas in the narrower sense, cultural production is related to the production of
various goods and services having specific meaning and organised around creative practices. It should be
noticed that the concept oа cultural production differs from the other theoretical approaches considering
the artistic and creative practices in a way that it does not concentrate on the ‘producer’ of artistic forms
and meanings, but rather focuses on the processes of creation, presentation, perception and evaluation of
artworks. The concept of cultural production considers art as being shaped by various actors involved in
the abovementioned processes and thus focuses on such factors as economic, institutional, organizational,
which directly affect the symbolic goods creation (Santoro, 2008).
According to Peterson, “the production of culture perspective focuses on how the symbolic
elements of culture are shaped by the systems within which they are created, distributed, evaluated,
taught, and preserved” (Peterson & Anand, 2004, p. 311). Peterson’s input into cultural studies and
sociology of arts is that he suggests to use the achievements of sociology of profession, organizational
sociology and other subdisciplines to the analysis of creative processes. This idea allows researchers to
consider artworks not single and direct results of creators’ labor but rather as integrated outputs of
collective efforts implemented by artists in collaboration with their colleagues and peers. Moreover,
Peterson’s approach suggests to analyse the environment (social, political and economic contexts) where
cultural production takes place. At this point, the role of a curator becomes significant, since curators field
of practice is strongly interconnected with mediating between the actors involved in this contexts.
Peterson also speaks about the cultural consumption, where the reproduction of the symbols and
meanings takes place, and thus can be defined as an autoproduction: the “consumer” operates with
symbolic meanings, and produces similar oк different to the original idea forms of interpretations.
(Peterson & Anand, 2004). Autoproduction should be also considered not as an individual process, but as
a result of communication of an individual with others and by perceiving the ideas produced by other
actors, and thу perception and interpretations are affected by the socialization, personal experience and
preferences (Peterson & Anand, 2004).
From my point of view, the shortcoming of this theoretical concept is that it is restricted by the
focusing on market conditions of symbolic goods production. But cultural production does not refer to
pure economy, there are various complex processes which affect the symbolic goods production. That is
why it is important to consider yet another theoretical perspective which develops the concept of
analysing artistic and broader cultural scene in the logic of cultural production. Correspondingly, the next
paragraph introduces and discusses the ideas on collective art production of H.S. Becker and gives more
insights into subject of my research based on his theory.
1.2. Curators in the “art world”: Howard Becker
One of the most important theoretical frameworks applied in my research of contemporary art curators is
the concept of art world introduced by Howard S. Becker, the representative of the Chicago school of
sociology. Following the logic of symbolic interactionist approach, Becker stresses the importance of
artworks created as the result of collective actions and cooperation of numerous actors, thus
problematizing the previously existing common image of artistic work as a purely individual process.
According to Becker, art makes a specific framework within which agents of artistic network perform
collective actions, and those collective actions and events produced by art networks “are the basic unit of
sociological investigation” (Becker, 1976, p.775). Thus, a sociological research should answer the
question: “who is joining together to produce what events?” (Becker, 1976, p.775).
Becker’s ideas go in line with the general logic of my research, since curators also significantly
contribute to artworks presentation and sometimes even creation. The basic categories and assumptions
suggested by Becker are analysed and applied in this paragraph.
The notion of art world, the key concept of Becker’s works, was originally introduced by Arthur
Danto who stressed the institutionalised character of art world as an institutional environment
(Farkhatdinov, 2008). According to Becker, art world is “the network of people whose cooperative
activity, organized via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things, produces the kind of
artworks” (Becker, 1982, p.10). This notion of the art world corresponds to the idea that particular
expertises and experience of people working in the field of artistic (and cultural) production play a great
role in the whole process of art creation and demonstration. Becker argues that works of art can be thus
defined as results of “coordinated activities” of various actors involved in the cooperation which is
essential for the actual occurring of the work (Becker, 1976). Moreover, Becker offers a typology of actors
involved in the abovementioned cooperation. In particular, he distinguishes between such categories of
actors as people who design the concept of the artwork; actors who perform this work; providers of
required materials and equipment; and, finally, actors inviting and forming the audience for the artwork
(Becker, 1974). Becker’s standpoint is that, even though it is conventionally assumed to ascribe the major
responsibilities for artworks to individual artists or groups of artists, sociologically is more relevant “to
see the work as the joint creation of all these people” (Becker, 1976).
Curatorial practices, being a complex professional framework, include various activities which
might be captured in the types of actors described above. Multitasking and multifunctioning are often seen
today as a “must” in various jobs, especially the creative ones, and curators are also required to combine
multiple tasks and responsibilities in their professional routines. For instance, Becker describes the role of
curators as following: “curators, publishers, conductors, and theatrical and movie producers all perform
editorial functions by creating and maintaining channels of distribution more adequate for some kinds of
work than for others, and totally inadequate for still others. They thus select, or lead makers of art works
to select, choices which fit easily into the available system” (Becker, 1982, p. 214). Curators thus appear
as mediators between actors involved in the artistic production and presentation of its results, being
responsible for artworks framing. Importantly, the legitimacy of performing such a function is grounded in
curators’ expertises and experience which enable them to embed artworks in the logic of particular cultural
contexts. The way such logic works in a particular case is not always obvious, and the choices are often
based on the conventions of the art world. A convention itself is a form of collective beliefs and notions
that shape and structure actions and determine the mode of artistic practices (Becker, 1982).
Conventions facilitate the regulation of communication and cooperation in the art world. Thus, the
decisions formed or influenced by conventions should be made with high respect to works of art and ideas
which are put into these works since the conventions are strongly connected with norms and values,
including the aesthetics. Another important thing is that conventions in the sphere of art are not so well9
defined, they usually do not have a basic sample of specific rules and directions, and one of the most
important processes dominating in conventions is interpretation of the work of art presented by different
actors involved in the art process. Conventions “do not exist in isolation, but come in complexly
interdependent systems, so that making one small change often requires making changes in a variety of
other activities” (Becker, 1976, p.772). Conventions can be exemplified by the case of existing
distributions of roles in a theatre, which are not fixed on paper, but normally have similar and repeated
procedures (Farkhatdinov, 2008). Speaking about contemporary art curators, conventions could be seen in
such practices as, for example, the unspoken rule that a particular curator works with a concrete artist.
Elements of conventions system are objectified in the form of materials and equipment. In other
words, the system of conventions gets embodied in equipment, materials, resources, notation system (a
system of symbols applied in a specific field of practices), etc. (Becker, 1976). It means that a convention
is a tool with the help of which the participants of artistic events gain the possibility arrive at a consensus
and jointly shape the project of an event. It can be done in the form of meetings (official or non-official,
private, etc.), correspondence (e-mail or written), phone conversations (or Skype and similar programs),
communication via social media, etc.
My research attempts to exemplify the participation of curators in the art world by analysing the
empirical data collected in St.Petersburg and Hamburg. I expect to find common features and differences
in the conventions structure at various levels by considering and comparing different types of artistic
institutions and styles of curatorial work both within and across the national contexts of Russia and
My major concern regarding Becker’s concept is that Becker does not clearly explain the notion of
convention, although it remains the central concept for his work. In order to clarify the practices taking
place in the art world, I will l reflect the approach developed by Pierre Bourdieu in the next paragraph.
Although his approach differs from Becker’s concept significantly, it is important to mention that both
scientists share the view on art as a collective action in the context of a sociological research.
1.3. Position of curators in the field of cultural production: Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist and philosopher, tends to criticize the aesthetic approach to
artistic production traditionally applied in sociological research even more severely than the previous
authors do. Bourdieu suggests to consider art as a sphere affected by various social factors: institutional,
economic, organizational, etc, (Farkhatdinov, 2008).
In order to apply Bourdieu's theoretical approach to my study, the key concepts essential to the
understanding of curators’ role for the field of cultural production should be provided.
According to Bourdieu, “any social formation is structured by way of a hierarchically organized
series of fields” (Johnson, 1993, p.6). Bourdieu suggests the division of social space, a system of relations
of people to each other based on the forms of capital which they have, into several fields, such as
educational, economic, political fields, and the field of cultural production. Every field is a specifically
structured set of agents’ social positions. Each field functions on the basis of its own rules and can be seen
as a relatively independent structure, although it is normally connected to other fields. The dynamic
concept of field is based on the idea that fields structure constantly changes with the shifts of agents’
positions and depends on the interaction between the agents and their positions.
The position of curators can be seen as located in the intersection of various fields, for instance,
the field of cultural production and its artistic subfield, as well as the fields of economics, politics, and
education. It can be explained by the fact that the artworks represented by curators are cultural, which
might be interconnected with various areas. The economic and political factors matter in these areas, and
the structure of artistic institutions is normally also related to them. The field of education, for example, is
presented in various museum programs for schools and additional projects organized in cooperation with
and expressed in the global aim of artistic institution to make the artworks and
knowledge about them available for large group of people with different background and status.
By conceptualizing the field of cultural production Bourdieu reflects not only on artworks which
are produced by this field and defined as objects existing “as such only by virtue of the (collective) belief
which knows and acknowledges it as a work of art” (Bourdieu, 1993, p.35), but also agents who form the
social relations inside the field and thus shape its structure: the ‘producers’ of artworks (e.g. artists) and
those agents who have a power to legitimise the status of a producer and his/her/their artworks symbolic,
social and economic meaning. The latter are represented by art historians, critics, publishers, etc.
(Johnson, 1993) Although Bourdieu does not include contemporary art curators to this category himself,
which can be explained by the fact that in the times of his academic activities a curator as a profession was
not institutionalised yet, may also ascribe them to this category of intellectuals, since curators have an
opportunity to ‘bring’ an artwork to an artistic institution and have a power to choose the artworks and
The artworks themselves can be described by the notion of symbolic goods which the field of
cultural production also aimed to produce. Symbolic goods differ from the material ones since the
consumption of such goods is performed through appreciating and understanding of their meaning and
The field of cultural production has a complex structure which is defined through the dichotomy
since there are two opposing subfields - the fIeld of large-scale production and the field of restricted
production (Bourdieu, 1993). The large-scale production is characterised by its financial orientation and
the broad target audience. This subfield reflects the popular, mass culture and thus the aesthetic value of
the artworks produced by this subfield is normally easily understandable for a large variety of people.
Speaking about the field of restricted cultural production, it should be noticed that it is concentrated on the
so-called “high art” which is represented by ‘serious’ artworks which have strong symbolic connotations
and normally requires specific skills such as, for example, knowledge of art history. Originally, the
artworks belonging to this field are normally not oriented towards gaining profit. (Bourdieu, 1993)
Bourdieu describes this subfield as a ‘production for producers’, referring to the idea that its symbolic
power is reinforced by various artistic institutions, such as museums, galleries, and also by the academic
field, which basically means that the professionals of the artistic field have the power to enlarge the
symbolic capital of the artworks produced in the field of restricted cultural production. Bourdieu argues
that “the field of restricted production tends to develop its own criteria for the evaluation of its products,
thus achieving the truly cultural recognition accorded by the peer group whose members are both
privileged clients and competitors,” (Bourdieu, 1984, p.5) and the power to establish these independent
criteria serves as a measure for the autonomy of this field. In case of my research this notion is particularly
interesting, since the fact that contemporary art curator has opportunities and thus power to establish such
criteria legitimise the curator’s status in both artistic field and field of cultural production.
One interesting idea suggested by Bourdieu is the conceptualisation of an artwork public meaning
which “originates in the process of circulation and consumption dominated by the objective relations
between the institutions and agents implicated in the process” (Bourdieu, 1984, p.9) This public meaning
is produced by social relations depending on the agents’ positions in the field of restricted cultural
production. The social relations between such agents as artist and critic, publisher and critic, or, in the
course of the current research, curator and artist, accompanying the public meaning creation are thus
particularly in focus. These complex relations are characterised by the actors’ engagement of the image of
factors affecting the relations as well as the image of his own field position. (Bourdieu, 1984)
In order to analyse the agent’s practices affecting the abovementioned social relations, Bourdieu has also
introduced the concept of habitus. This term is defined as a system of “durable, transposable dispositions,
structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate
and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without
presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to
attain them. (Bourdieu, 1977, p.72) In other words, the notion of habitus reflects the specific structure of
emotions and mind which can be characterised by the agent’s range of obtained dispositions, taste,
emotionality. The habitus affected by such factors as family background, education, social and economic
status, etc., develops an individual attitude towards society and forms agent’s practices in the fields which
Another essential concept suggested by Bourdieu is the notion of strategies. The strategy is a
“product of the habitus… based on ... results from unconscious dispositions towards practice” (Johnson,
1993). The strategy is affected by the agent’s position in the field and various issues which might create a
confrontation in the field and thus require solutions which are formed by the social relations. Moreover,
Bourdieu suggests a concept of a trajectory, which represents a set of the agent’s successfully occupied
positions in the concrete field and reflects the objectified relationship between the field and the agent.
(Bourdieu, 1993) In a course of my research I am going to analyse the curatorial strategies and
trajectories, and in order to provide the full picture of the performed strategies the forms of agent’s
capitals should be analysed since the agent’s position in the field is affected by the available and belonging
As was mentioned above, the position of an agent in the field is influenced by the agent’s capital.
According to Bourdieu, capital is an “accumulated labor” and “a force inscribed in the objectivity of
things so that everything is not equally possible or impossible” (Bourdieu, 1986, p.46). He distinguishes
four specific forms of capitals, namely, economic, cultural, social and symbolic capitals, “which agents
m o b i l i z e i n o r d e r t o e n t e r a n d m o v e o n s o c i a l f i e l d s ” ( Wa l t h e r, 2 0 1 4 , p . 9 ) .
The property rights and financial issues (money) are incorporated into the notion of economic capital
(Bourdieu, 1986). For example, a patent for a newly invented technology represents this form of capital,
as well as the wealth inherited by a person or a monthly salary. The economic capital provides an agent
with a power to perform a strategy aimed at the achieving a particular goal.
In case of the curators, economic capital can be presented by several forms. First of all, the
curators normally have to deal with financial issues, namely the budgeting of a project and fundraising.
Moreover, curator’s position considering the labour бфклуе is characterised by the specific salary
formation: the curator’s income might significantly differ in the sum and form, depending on the
institution curator belongs to or the local artistic scene specificity, etc. Finally, the economic value of an
artwork also affects the curatorial practices: there is a wide range of prices of artworks on the art market
which divides the artworks by such factors as an accessibility, conditions of working processes with an
220.127.116.11. Cultural capital
Bourdieu states that the cultural capital can be presented in three forms. First of all, cultural capital can be
seen in the embodied state, which means “the form of long-lasting dispositions of the mind and body”
(Bourdieu, 1986, p.47), then in the objectified state which covers various forms of symbolic goods,
literally - physical objects which have specific symbolic meanings or can be used as tools in the course of
cultural production. Finally, cultural capital can be considered as the institutionalised state which relates to
the academic and educational qualifications of an agent.
The first form of cultural capital refers to the inherited characteristics which are usually gained
through socialization processes in the family by perceiving values and traditions or consciously gained
properties, such as a taste, attitudes and manners, which affects the agent’s strategies and preferences.
Bourdieu suggests that taste is formed by the competition between the classes and presents the sign of
distinction (Bourdieu, 1984). According to Bourdieu, the taste is thus distributed unequally and is seen as
a capability of material and symbolical obtaining of certain sets of practices or objects. As it was
mentioned above, the taste as the embodied form of cultural capital is transmitted through the family
socialization as well as through the socialization processes taking place in the educational system.
Consequently, the behaviour manners, fashion style of a person, or food preferences might be considered
The cultural capital presented in the objectified state refers to various objects being a symbolic
good, which means that such things as books, paintings, sculptures fall into this category. There might be
an owner of such form of capital, but it is also available for other agents through the perception of the
symbolic meaning of an object, although the specific basis for its understanding is required and not
Speaking about the institutionalised state of cultural capital, it should be noticed that it has a
significant impact on the agent’s labour market position due to the fact that it covers the agent’s academic
qualification which is approved by the institutional recognition and can be transformed into the economic
capital since the agent’s income often depends on the academic degree. This state of capital is presented
by the academic position of an agent, e.g. BA, MA, Phd, as well as by the set of skills and knowledge
gained by the person which can be applied in the specific field of practice. For example, the juridical MA
degree means that a person should have enough knowledge, skills and experience to occupy a position of a
Considering my research, I assume that all these mentioned states of cultural capital play an
important role in the curatorial practices and strategies. The first one (the embodied state) reflects the
curators’ family and educational background in a sense of how the family traditions (for example,
professional generation continuity) or the preferences for particular artistic genres and forms which could
have been gained while the academic experience affect the current curatorial practices. In the course of the
research of contemporary art curators, their educational background has significant importance, since the
major curatorial orientations might be strongly affected by the academic past of the curator. The family
issues may also contribute to the professional formation of a curator, for example, if a person has been
raised in the artistic atmosphere, this would probably affect the choice of his/her future profession, as well
as a person’s surroundings which may be identified as artistic or at least creative. In both cases of
socialization through a family or educational system, there could be intergenerational continuity observed
in the curatorial strategies. For example, the curator might also opt for working in the same artistic
institution to which his supervisor belongs to, or to exhibit the works of art produced by the artists
composing the friendly circles of an artistic family. Additionally, professional socialization in a particular
artistic institution should be also taken into account in the course of my research, since the cultural capital
of curators is also probably defined by the institutional norms and values, preferred working style, etc.
Speaking about the objectified state of cultural capital, it should be noticed that curators work
directly with artworks (paintings, drawings, sculptures) and thus their professional practices are strongly
interconnected with this state of a cultural capital. Moreover, curators have an opportunity to shape the
symbolic meanings of artworks by the conceptualising them in a course of an exhibition or an art project.
Finally, the institutionalised state of cultural capital is represented by curator’s academic
background. It should be noticed that skills and knowledge gained by a curator during his or her
educational period might strongly affect the curatorial strategies. In the field of cultural production the
academic degree, in fact, has an important impact on the position of a curator in this field. Due to the fact
that academic institutions are ranked by the quality of a given education, the belonging to a particular
academic institution might strongly affect the hierarchical position of a curator in the field of cultural
production. On the other hand, normally curators choose a particular direction of their scientific interests
which make them professionals in a particular genre, period of an art history, etc. Finally, the
institutionalised state of cultural capital constitutes a specific feature of a curatorial profession: curators
tend to be self-reflexive professionals which means that the academic or a curatorial research performed
by curators themselves often takes place and is considered by the peer group of curators and interlinked
Coming to the next point of application of Bourdieu’s theory to my study, it is important to reflect the
social form of capital which is presented set of social relations of a person, which is obtained through
various practices and experience (Bourdieu, 1986). Particularly, Bourdieu defines social capital as “the
sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a
durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition
(Bourdieu, 1992, p. 119). The so-called network of social relations allows a person to get an access to
different fields and sources, such as information and knowledge, expertises and skills, and also to material
resources. Since curators communicate and cooperate with diverse actors in their professional network,
According to Bourdieu, the relationships that form the social capital can “exist only in the practical
state, in material and/or symbolic exchanges which help to maintain them” (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 51). In
case of the curatorial practices, i suppose that this form of social capital plays an important role due to the
fact that specifically symbolic exchange matters: a curator has an opportunity to provide an artwork with a
symbolic meaning and support a status of an artist exchanged to the artwork given for a period of time to a
curator. Moreover, curator receiving financial support from some sponsor also provides him or her (or the
organization) with a status having a positive connotations which a respected in the society.
The social relationships can also be “socially instituted and guaranteed by the application
of a common name (the name of a family, a class, or a tribe or of a school, a party, etc.) and by a whole set
of instituting acts designed simultaneously to form and inform those who undergo them” (Bourdieu, 1986,
p. 51). this form of social capital also play a significant role in the curatorial practices since, for example,
the friendly circles of peers working in the artistic field are usually constituted by the belonging to a
Finally, a notion of symbolic form of capital, which “is not an independent type of capital within itself, but
rather consists in the acknowledgment of capital by the entirety of the peer competitors on a specific field”
(Walther, 2014, p.10), is also relevant to the current study. A curator acting in the field of arts has to obtain
the status of a trustworthy, well-educated person in order to build a successful career. The colleagues and
public acknowledgement also play an important role in the professional life of a curator. Another
important notion related to the symbolic form of capital is the concept of symbolic goods introduced by
Bourdieu and described above in the context of the field of cultural production. Taking into account the
fact that curators work with objects of art and establish a link between an artist and his or her ideas with
the audience through exhibitions and other types of artistic shows, such processes, namely, presenting and
perceiving the meanings of artworks, become a part of such consumption, and thus the role of a curator
The following paragraph provides an insight into the key concept of my research - cultural intermediaries.
The workers engaged in “the occupations involving presentation and representation (sales, marketing,
advertising, public relations, fashion, decoration and so forth) and in all the institutions providing
symbolic goods and services ... and in cultural production and organization which have expanded
considerably in recent years” (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 359) are considered to be cultural intermediaries.
Contemporary art curators can be seen as a vivid example of such a category since they mediate between
various actors in their professional practices, since in fact, as it was already mentioned above, curators
operate at the intersection of different fields, which brings us to the idea that curators should perform a
role of mediators in the most of their work. Furthermore, curators might affect both cultural production
and consumption performing several functions, such as coordinating and presenting the results of artistic
production, gatekeeping, making catalogues, editing articles and other texts, scheduling,
The notion of cultural intermediaries is particularly connected with the concept of taste being
socially constructed, since, according to Bourdieu, the cultural intermediaries actually handle the tastes of
various agents (Bourdieu, 1986) by “shaping tastes for particular goods and practices, and defining and
defending (new class) group positions within society” (Maguire & Matthews, 2014, p.16). The cultural
intermediaries and particularly curators do not confirm the agents (consumers) to ‘buy’ a concrete
symbolic good, for example, an artwork, but they rather “create the conditions for consumers to identify
their tastes in goods” (Maguire & Matthews, 2014, p.20). Due to the cultural, symbolic and social capitals
which cultural intermediaries have, they have a legitimised power to form the agent's’ tastes.
Moreover, cultural intermediaries are ascribed to the ‘new economy … whose functioning depends as
much on the production of needs and consumers as on the production of goods’ (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 310)
since the newly arised consumer economy in the 20th century required the scope of ‘merchants’ and
‘taste-makers’. Consequently, the cultural intermediaries cannot be considered outside the class relations
which have been changing, especially due to the higher education distribution: the higher education
became more open to diverse agents representing different social classes, and thus the new occupations
occurs, specifically related to the production of needs and symbolic goods.
In the course of the ‘new economy’ Bourdieu emphasises the growing professionalization of the
agents mediating between production and consumption, and thus could be specifically seen in the example
of the curators: originally, the curators were mostly educated as the art historians, and although for the
classic forms of art the curator is still usually supposed to have such an academic background, but in the
field of contemporary art we observe the occurrence of new educational academic programs referring
particularly to the job of contemporary art curator.
1.3.5. Criticism towards Bourdieu’s approach
Summarizing the ideas and theoretical notions mentioned above, it could be concluded that the
application of Bourdieu’s theory to the current research will allow me to provide a better interpretation of
the qualitative data collected during the empirical work, and to link various aspects of curatorial activities.
However, the Bourdieu’s theoretical approach received a numerous criticism. The major point of criticism
is expressed towards the lack of conceptual transparency (Sullivan, 2002), which leads to diverse
approaches of the theory by the other researchers, as well as the various and sometimes contradicted
conclusions drawn out of it. Moreover, the concept of habitus has been recalled as a deterministic one and
not considering the level of individual agency (DiMaggio, 1979). Additionally, the lack of gender
conceptualization is also seen as a drawback of Bourdieu’s concept (Kanter, 1986).
Personally, in the course of my research, I feel a lack of analysis of the suggested by Bourdieu
concepts in the framework of the international level, since he considers the national level only. Although,
this point can be supplemented by the application of other theoretical approaches.
1.4. Analysis of curatorship through the lens of sociology of profession
The following paragraph suggests an overview of perspectives considering the curatorial practices as an
On the one hand, following the idea that curators are representatives of art management field, it
should be noticed that the formalization of regulations of this profession is normally lacking due to the
fact that curatorial practices are performed differently in various artistic institutions or out of them. Basing
on this point, I argue that sociological analysis of curators should be more focused on the actions and
strategies of mediating between diverse actors from multiple fields and symbolic objects. Yet, it should be
added that there are still “formal” rules and institutionalized forms which affect the curatorial professional
status and practices.
In my research I apply the following definition of profession suggested by Burkart: “Professions
are occupational categories whose members have degrees of statutory power and autonomy, because they
successfully claim to solve better than others relevant problems of their clients or of society in general.
The expertise of their members is validated by advanced university degrees, theoretical knowledge and
technical skills” (Burkart, 2006, 470).
The definition suggested above reflects various aspects of profession considered by sociologists
and refers to the notion of cultural capital described in the previous part of the theoretical chapter. Now i
would like to describe the approaches of sociology of profession which might be useful to my research.
First of all, I would like to mention Abbott who suggests to see profession as an open system
characterised by internal dynamical competition for monopoly for competence and professional credibility
(Abbot, 1988), He also stresses the important role of knowledge and skills division in the settings of
professional boundaries. Moreover, according to Abbot, studies of professions have to consider the
conterminous professions. The conterminous professions are those which are strongly related to the
particular occupation but represent a different type of job, although they are often linked in their practices.
For example, we can consider the psychologist to be bounded to the job of a social worker, since they
often collaborate in order to perform their duties successfully. In case of curatorship this fact can be seen
as valuable due to the fact that curators usually work in a tandem with representatives of various artistic,
academic, media and managerial professions.
The idea that particular occupation should not be analysed separately from the allied professions
due to the fact that changes in related professions may affect each other (Abbot, 1988) provides a
theoretical ground for a qualitative analysis of a curators as a mediators between diverse actors.
1.4.1. Curators as creative professionals
It must be added that curatorship as a profession representing managerial occupational category is not
limited to purely organizational issues. The aesthetic issues also play a significant role in curatorial
practices, which should be taken into consideration when analysing a curatorship as a professional
category. Moreover, as it was already mentioned above, the cultural capital represented by academic and
professional competences alongside with social and symbolic capital play an important role in the course
of defining a curator’s position in the labour field of art market.
Curators are obviously involved in creative practices and thus belongs to the new professional
group - creative professionals. According to Richard Florida, creative professionals form a new class 19
creative class - and can be defined as agents involved in work whose main aim is to create ‘new
meaningful forms’ (Florida, 2002). Florida suggests the following structure of the creative class: supercreative core represented by such professionals as artists, poets, scientists, engineers, actors, editors, etc.,
and creative professionals. While the first group creates the new forms themselves (for example, the
musician composes a new piece of music or an architect creates a new building plan/drawing), the latter
one rather help to solve various problems and issues by applying creative practices and academic
knowledge. This group of creative professionals being involved in ‘knowledge-intensive industries’
(Florida, 2002) is supposed to have a high level of education and social capital and have to make decisions
based on their knowledge, producing new ideas.
Contemporary art curators are exactly involved in the kind of practices described above: they have
to tackle different problems, to arrange various conditions in order to help the artist and a public to find
each other in the museum or gallery.
1.5. Research on curatorship: two perspectives
In order to perform the analysis as deep as possible, I find important to consider the research on
contemporary art curators which have been already conducted. The first paragraph shed light on how the
analysis of curatorial practices is performed by curators themselves, while the second one describes a
sociological research of curatorship, which are still a rather rare case in the course of sociology of art.
1.5.1. Insider perspective
The curatorial studies might be considered as a functional duty of a curator in relation to the exhibition
project development. Normally, the curatorial studies has a form of a research of particular artist’s work,
artistic forms, directions, history of art, etc. Nevertheless, curators more frequently become a research
subject of curators and art historians. Interestingly, the majority of studies about curators are done inside
this professional field. These inside perspectives give a rich material for
the forthcoming studies of
curatorial practices done by social and humanities scientists, by providing a research ground, such as
curator’s functions description, exhibitional and artistic projects typologies, classifications of agents acting
in the art world, defining basic and specific terms related to the curatorial practices. On the other hand,
such studies might be lacking the objective perspective of out-of the artistic field view.
The increasing amount of the abovementioned studies could be explained by the growing
popularity of curator’s profession, as well as by the increasing role of curators on the artistic scene and art
market, and by the amount growth of art museums, galleries, and artistic project. Moreover, there is a
growing number of curatorial educational programs on BA and MA levels which requires new theoretical
and empirical basis for being implemented in a newly established program in order to have a distinction
from such fields as history of art and art management (where managerial and thus commercial issues are
The “inside” researchers themselves justify the necessity of a curatorial studies by several points.
First of all, such research might significantly contribute to the art knowledge production. Secondly, there
is currently a lack of analysed and documented information about the history of contemporary art, the art
of 20th century, where the curators started to play a significant role in the course of cultural and
knowledge production. Finally, the changing role and practices of artistic institutions and their means have
to be analysed. (Cherix,, 2014). In particular, “exhibitions have become the medium through which most
art becomes known,” (Greenberg, Ferguson & Nairne, 1996, p. 2) and the forms of the exhibitions have
changed dramatically, since today museums and art galleries tend to present their permanent collections in
a form of temporary exhibitions, while the exhibition itself can be currently seen as a “site of exchange in
the political economy of art, where signification is constructed, maintained, and occasionally
deconstructed. Part spectacle, part socio-historical event, part structuring device, exhibitions - especially
exhibitions of contemporary art - establish and administer the cultural meanings of art”. (Greenberg,
Ferguson & Nairne, 1996, p. 2) In this sense, the role of a curator organizing the exhibition becomes
especially significant and deserves to be carefully studied.
There are diverse definitions of “curator” in such internal studies, all of them generally reflects the
role of a curator as a linchpin between artists and public, as a guide to the artistic world. Today, the
definitions of “curators” have become more complicated due to the various tasks performed by the
representatives of this profession. For example, Hans Ulrich Obrist defines this term in a following way:
Today it is much much more than filling a space with objects. It has to do with filtering, it has to
do with enabling, it has to do with synthesizing, with framing, also with remembering; and it’s
definitely become clear, sort of seeing the exponential growth of the use of the note curator on the
internet, that the proliferation of ideas, of information, of images needs somehow, obviously, a
guiding and it seems also that within this whole information explosion curating is used more and
more. (Obrist, TEDx Talks, 2011, 00:11ff).
H.U. Obrist is a world recognised curator currently working as an Artistic Director at the
Serpentine Galleries, London. He has also organised numerous independent curatorial projects
internationally, as well as created various discussion platforms for curators and art historian. He is also
working on “The Interview Project” starting from his student years. Obrist has collected an impressive set
of interviews with various representatives of the art world. Moreover, Obrist is particularly known for his
research on the history of curating implemented in a book “The Brief History of Curating” which is
particularly interesting for the current research. Obrist has conducted several interviews with pioneer
curators, who are very respected not only in curators’ and artists’ community, but also on different
institutional and public levels. Interviews with such outstanding curators as Anne d'Harnoncourt, Werner
Hofman, Jean Leering, Franz Meyer, Seth Siegelaub, Walter Zanini, Johannes Cladders, Lucy Lippard,
Walter Hopps, Pontus Hultén, and Harald Szeemann cover a great number of specific issues concerning
the job of a curator, biographical trajectories of the curators, their understanding of actors involved in the
art world and institutions which shape the artistic environment. The book is considered to be a great
contribution to the history of contemporary art, and has valuable insights in a form of qualitative data
which is applicable in a course of a sociological research and cultural studies.
I would also like to mention another work, article “Beyond Boundaries: Rethinking Contemporary
Art Exhibitions”written by curators who have great practical experience. The article addresses various
innovative practices and models developed by curators in the recent decades in order to present
contemporary art inside and outside of institutional spaces in the situation of new challenges in the world
of art itself, as well as in other social spheres. Being very different, these models are insomuch united by
the idea that contemporary art can perform an integral role in society by implementing a tool of
establishing spaces where individuals would have an opportunity to reflect their personal experience and
their communication with the world. This process, according to the article, requires the reconsideration of
the main contemporary art world's categories: curator, artist, exhibition, and audience, and also the
The article is divided into six parts which are produced by the curators themselves. Firstly, Valerie
Cassel, the Director of the Visiting Artists Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, analyses
the experience of artistic residence “Cry of My Birth” which is organised in cooperation and with the
constant assistance of the Visiting Artists Program. Artists from different countries were invited to work
on their projects in Chicago, both in independent projects and in groups. The residence provides necessary
curatorial help, discussions, and other support (Morin et al., 2000).
Secondly, France Morin, an independent contemporary art curator and art historian based in New
York, covers specific issues of the establishing and functioning of the project named “The Quiet in the
Land: Resistance and Healing through Art”, which is aimed to reflect conventional notions of gender,
work, and spirituality and to challenge the widespread belief that art and life are the aspects which do not
have much in common. The space was created and shared between the artists and the communities by
implementation of different projects reflecting the issues mentioned above in the form of exhibitions and
further publications (Morin et al., 2000). The next part of the article is written by Apinan Poshyananda, the
Associate Director of the Centers for Academic Resources, Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok and the
curator of numerous exhibitions. He reports on different issues related to contemporary art exhibitions’
organisation in Asia and challenges of presenting Asian contemporary art on the global level by describing
several curatorial projects from his practice (Morin et al., 2000).
The fourth part written by Mari Carmen Ramirez, curator of Latin American Art, reflects the
present struggle between global and local interests in the art world and covers the role of curators as
brokers, translators, or cultural agents (Morin et al., 2000). The fifth part reflects the experience of
Caroline Turner, Deputy Director of the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University,
Director of cultural research projects, as a project director of The Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary
Art - an impressive exhibition project which involved over six hundred artists, curators, and writers from
the region. The final part of the article written by curator Igor Zabel provides the analysis of
organisational and content specificity of Manifesta 3.
The abovementioned article is an illustrative example of curatorial studies aimed at sharing the
experience and knowledge and to increase the awareness about challenges faced by curators in their
works. Such perspective is also of great importance due to the fact that it unites international aspects of
curatorial work, and today curators often have to deal with international projects and cooperate
It should be noticed that the majority of studies dedicated to curatorial practices and provided by
the representatives of the Western part art world, while there is a lack of such research in Russia.
Nevertheless, there is also one work which should be mentioned in the current research due to its great
influence on the curatorial practices in Russia: “Five Lectures on Curating” written by Viktor Misiano,
which is the first study of curatorial practice and theory written in Russian language.
Misiano is a noticeable figure on the Russian artistic scene as well as on the European one, being a
curator and contemporary art theorist. Living and working in Moscow, Russia, has curated various on
local, national, and international levels projects and worked with different art journals. Today, he is
actively teaching and giving lectures in different geographical locations (Kandinsky Prize, 2015).
In his book “Five Lectures on Curating”, Misiano provides an overview of the development of
curatorship exemplified by the international and personal professional experience. He describes the
curatorial practices as a form of non-material production and underlines its relational and dialogical
character, presenting curatorship as a part of an artistic system (Misiano, 2014) “By joining the
international discourse on curatorial practices, Misiano projects its key concepts onto the Russian scene,
and highlights the relationships between the local artistic system and diverse global processes, including
political and social trends and events” (Kandinsky Prize, 2015). He also reflects the Moscow artistic scene
and its principals. Misiano stresses the public character of curator’s work, which brings him to the idea
that curatorial practices have to be always considered in the context of communication, (Misiano, 2014)
which also reflects the idea of a curator being a cultural intermediary.
Misiano also presents classification of exhibitions (Misiano, 2014) as following:
history and art exhibitions, which have academic character and based on the scientific
research, and mostly presented in the museums and initiated also by museums;
thematic exhibition, which has a similar to history and art exhibitions form, but normally
presents contemporary artworks;
representative exhibitions, where the exhibited material plays the most important role, but
not the previously done research, since such exhibitions are aimed at presenting the
artworks of some region, period, genre, etc.;
solo show, presenting the artworks of a particular artist;
experimental exhibition, aimed at creating new forms of exhibitions and not repeating the
mega-exhibition, which has the most complicated structure among the abovementioned
types, since it unites various artworks, genres, forms, locations, and may also unite a series
of artistic events (e.g. Manifesta, Documenta).
According to Misiano, curator has to adapt and change his strategies due to the particular type of
an exhibition (Misiano, 2014).
1.5.2. Sociological perspective
Although there is a lack of research on contemporary art curators, today there are some researchers
working in the field of sociology of art, who address this type of artistic field agents.
I would also like to draw attention to an interdisciplinary research of curators done by Sophia
Krzys Acord. In her article “Beyond the Head: The Practical Work of Curating Contemporary Art” she
covers several important issues concerning curatorial practices. Firstly, she presents classical theoretical
approaches which are usually used by sociologists in order to reflect the artistic framework in general:
application of P. Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital, H.S. Becker’s approach interpretation, Di Maggio’s
analysis, etc. Secondly, the writer also reflects methodological questions and describes the methods
applied in her research: she has opted for “photo-and video-based micro sociological studies” (Acord,
2010, p.453) which were presented by a combination of video data analysis with follow-up videoelicitation interviews (Acord, 2010). In her research she concentrates on the curatorial practice of artworks
installations which explains the choice of such methods due to the necessity of analysing visual materials.
Thus, Acord offers interesting empirical material and practical ideas suggested by curators themselves.
Finally, the article discusses current debates around studies of curatorial and artistic practices. (Acord,
2010) The article contains extremely useful material for a researcher, as it covers various approaches
which can be applied further. Namely, Accord comes to the conclusion that the artistic production should
be considered as a form of cultural production. Moreover, she stresses the need “to examine art world
actors and mediators from the position of performance and meaning making, especially when this practice
involves new or changing art forms” (Acord, 2009, p.217). She also concludes that the contemporary art
curators ‘exercise agency within institutional restrictions during the exhibition-planning process.” (Acord,
There is a tendency among social scientists, to study curators in relation to the other actors of art
market, namely, curators appear in the research devoted to the contemporary artist, artistic institutions,
critics, and audience studies. Another tendency is to do a case study of a particular art projects, where the
processes of communication and collaboration of actors involved in it are analysed. For example, the
paper “When a bus met a museum: following artists, curators and workers in art installation” reflects the
steps of an art project realization and describes the mediation between artists, technicians, curator, the
public, demonstrating the importance of coordinated actions (Yaneva, 2003).
To conclude, the first chapter gives insights on the paradigm of cultural production which does not
consider the artistic production from the artist's’ position as the key one in this process, but concentrates
on various actors and institutions involved in the cultural production. At this point, contemporary art
curator becomes a legitimate cultural intermediary belonging to a group of creative professionals and
linking various agents together in order to create new meaningful forms. Both academic and practical
perspectives are valuable in a study of curators, since there is a necessity to overcome the each approach
shortcomings to present the objective picture of curatorship.
The results of comparative empirical research
The following chapter gives an overview of applied methodology to data collection, describes the research
sample and gives some insights into the research limitations.
The main part of the chapter reflects the results of the empirical analysis of collected data and
answers the research questions posed in the course of this study.
The following paragraph describes my choice of data types, the methods of data collection and data
analysis. It also shades light on the challenges of applied methodology and describes the research
limitations in order to provide a clear picture of what has been done so far.
With regard to the aims of my study, I decided to work with qualitative data collection and
analysis. Qualitative methodology provides a researcher with deep and valuable insights into the subject
of inquiry. It gives an opportunity to get access to the closed fields and to study new social phenomena,
provides high degree of flexibility during the research process, and is considered to be the one of the best
options to collect data about personal and sensitive issues due to the face-to-face communication with
informants. In case of my research it is extremely important to collect information which would deeply
describe the personal experience of curators, and thus the face-to-face contact is really important.
Moreover, due to the fact that my research is dedicated to a rather new social phenomena, it is essential to
collect the narratives which are not affected by formalized questions, but are rather shaped by the
It should be mentioned, however, that qualitative methodology lacks the formalized and unified
approach to data analysis. Unfortunately, due to the fact that qualitative analysis is based on the
interpretations of the reported and observed facts, actions, and social phenomena provided by the
researcher, the data and the analysis results might be influenced by subjectiveness. There is also a risk to
get rather descriptive findings and conclusions. Anyway, I believe that qualitative perspective provides me
with a deeper view on the topic of my research, since it allows to capture the individual perceptions and
experiences of contemporary art curators. Moreover, the suggested methodology also gives me the
opportunity to discover the hidden dimensions of curatorship as a set of professional practices and agents
performing them, and to analyse the diversity of curators’ strategies presented in two European cultural
capitals and in two national context. In-depth interviewing was applied as a mean of data collection, which
has allowed to cover the issues considered by the informants as important. The in-depth interviews also
gave an opportunity to get insights into the informants’ biographical trajectories which influenced them as
curators, to get the idea of the daily work of curators in artistic institutions, to grasp the evaluative
perspectives of curators towards their work in particular institutions and in particular cities.
Since my research has a comparative perspective and focuses on curators working in two countries,
Germany and Russia, the fieldwork for data collection was done in Hamburg, Germany, in the period of
07.02.2016 - 17.03.2016 and in St.Petersburg, Russia, in the period of 20.03.2017 - 20.04.2017. These two
cities were selected in order to provide the ground for the comparative studies, since St. Petersburg is
considered to be the cultural capital of Russia, just like Hamburg in Germany. Moreover, the size of the
cities and cultural and artistic diversity presented there are also comparable: hamburg occupies the
territory of 755,16 km² and 3.5 million of people leave there (Official Hamburg website, 2016), while
St.Petersburg has 5,2 million of inhabitants and 1439 km². Although the numbers differ, both
St.Petersburg and Hamburg are the second largest cities in their countries.
Aiming at providing the maximal variety of narratives, the structure of typological sampling was
developed. To collect informative, valuable and comparable data, the following groups of experts were
Contemporary art curators working in state funded institutions (e.g. museums);
Contemporary art curators working in private institutions (e.g. galleries);
Curators working as freelancers or in self-running projects.
It should be mentioned that only in St.Petersburg I managed to collect interviews fully covering
the suggested typological sample, since in Hamburg the distinction for state funded and private artistic
institutions does not really work: almost all of them receive both governmental and sponsored financial
support. Thus, it should be mentioned that the state support of art in Germany varies from the Russian one,
since private artistic institutions also constantly receive financial support from the government, which
actually can be also observed now in some St.petersburg institutions, although such form of combining
state and private support is not expanded yet.
The average length of the collected interviews is one hour, although in some cases the interview
lasted 1,5 or 2,5 hours. Ten in-depth interviews constitute the total number of collected data. The low
formalization of conversations was presented in the both cases, which gave the interviewees the
opportunity to to lead the talk and to refer the issues of curating relevant for them. The interviewees with
the informants from Germany were conducted in English, while the interviews with Russian curators - in
2.1.2. Working with data: transcribing, coding, analysing
The interview guide was developed according to the research design and the research questions stated
there. The applied interview guide in English can be found in Appendix 1 to this paper.
The collected interviews were recorded using a dictaphone, and the interviewees were asked in
advance if they agreed to be recorded. Then the recordings were accurately transcribed: in order not to
ascribe some subjective interpretations to the opinions, statements and evaluations given by the
informants: all the conversational strands, repetitions and emotional notions of the statements were
reflected in the transcripts. Since some of the recordings were made in cafes and other public spaces, there
were some additional noises on the recordings which made the process of the transcription a bit difficult.
It should be also mentioned that there were also some challenges in the transcription process due to the
fact that for four out of five informants representing the Hamburg case English was not the native
language, which means that sometimes the pronunciation was not very clear. Luckily, there were no
significant mistakes while the recording process, such as disruption of technical devices, so all the data
were carefully registered.
The transcription was done with the help of “oTranscribe BETA” online tool. This program allows
a researcher to avoid switching between different programs while transcribing, to pause, rewind and fastforward without taking hands off the keyboard, to automatically save the written information to the
browser's storage every second, and to export to the finished text to the Google Docs. Moreover, this tool
is used free of charge. Apparently, the process of transcription of recordings was a demanding and timeconsuming process, but it was compensated by the fact that in the end all the transcripts compiled a vivid
and insightful basis for a further qualitative analysis.
In the current research, I applied three steps of analysis: open, axial and selective coding.
Introducing the procedure, it should be said that the coding is a specific way of analyzing qualitative data
which is implemented through categorizing and sorting the textual information. A code itself can be stated
in a form of a short but illustrative phrase or a word having a strong symbolic meaning. The codes are
assigned to the selected parts of analysed text. One part of the text may have several codes assigned to it.
The open coding is the first stage of language-based data analysis and is done by the splitting written data
into the first-level concepts. The axial coding is the following analysis stage. Here some of the preliminary
codes could be used further as coded on the first stage of this procedure, while the other codes (subcodes)
are united into categories (codes) and the interlinks between the codes are found in order to create a micro
theory out of the collected data. Finally, the selective coding presupposes a choice for particular codes out
of the full list in order to reflect properly the research questions. All these steps were implemented in the
course of empirical analysis in the framework of the research.
I decided to use the Google docs form in order to analyse the collected data. All the transcribed
interviews had a separate file, and the coding process was done by inserting comments to the selected
parts of the text. There were two waves of this procedure: the first one for the open coding, and the second
one - for axial coding. The separate table of applied codes and referring subcodes was created which can
be found in Appendix 2. At the final step of the coding procedure, I grouped the codes and the vivid
examples of referring quotes into two tables describing each case of my research (curatorship in Hamburg
and in St. Petersburg) reflecting the research logic, and, finally, for the procedure of comparison I used
these two tables in order to reply my research questions.
2.1.3. Challenges: access to the field and research limitations
The field of art is a complicated subject of a research, as creative people are usually have a lot of tasks шт
parallel and have a constantly changeable schedule, and curators are generally very busy people. That is
why in both cases it was difficult to arrange meetings, even though people were willing to talk to me. In
Hamburg, there was a challenge to establish the first contact with curators, since originally I did not have
many acquaintances there. But, with the help of the n internship which I underwent in Hamburg in the
course of my master studies and the research on the Hamburg artistic community FRISE which I am
involved in, I got recommendations and contacts for conducting my interviews. In St. Petersburg, it was
much easier since I have quite a few contacts within the artistic network there.
As it was already mentioned in paragraph 2.2.1, there are some research limitations in the
sampling in case of Hamburg, although it does not dramatically affect the research in general. The major
limitation could be seen in the number of conducted interviews, but, unfortunately, the time and financial
resources of a student are limited. Anyway, the obtained result is a good start for researching curatorship
in Russia and Germany. The research also has geographical limitations: ideally, in order to get the full
picture of contemporary art curatorship, the choice of cities under the study should be broader. Conducting
series of interviews in the capital cities (Moscow and Berlin), as well as in the smaller cities, would be a
valuable addition to what has been done so far.
I would also like to mention that in some cases of interviews I felt that it was a bit difficult to start
the conversation, since I was a new person for my informants. That is why some statements may reflect
rather official standpoints of an artistic institution where the curator works, but in the middle of the
2.2. Empirical analysis: curatorship in St.Petersburg
The sample of interviewees from St.Petersburg consists of five curators representing various artistic
institutions: the State Hermitage (SC1) 1, LUDA Gallery (SC2), Erarta (SC3), the State Russian Museum
(SC4), and the Creative Association of Curators TOK (SC5). The brief description of these institutions
should be provided.
2.2.1. Artistic institutions represented in the research sample (St.Petersburg)
I would like to start with the description of the most well-known and appreciated institution - Hermitage.
The State Hermitage is one of the oldest museums in Russia and in the World founded in 1764. Moreover,
it is on the the world’s largest artistic institution with over 3 million items in its collections. The
collections are divided according to the art history periodization and geography and “contains paintings,
graphic works, sculptures, works of applied art, archaeological artefacts and numismatic objects” (The
State Hermitage Museum, 2016). The museum has 6 buildings, namely the Winter Palace, the Menshikov
Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General
Staff Building. The latter one has been renovated recently, and permanent and temporary exhibitions of
contemporary art take place there.
1 (SCn) and (HCn) refers the St.Petersburg and Hamburg interviewees consequently, whose names are not mentioned in the
text due to the anonymity reasons.
The Hermitage is a big artistic institution with a complex structure and more than 1000 employees
which is occupied not only with keeping and presenting artworks, but also with the academic work related
to the history of art. The Hermitage museum belongs to the state property.
The second institution which is covered in this case of St.Petersburg is is the State Russian
Museum. This museum has the largest and collection of Russian art ranging from the Old Russian art to
the today’s contemporary artworks. The collection is divided between several buildings which presents
themselves eminent examples of the XVIII-XIX century architecture: ‘Mikhailovsky, Stroganov, Marble
Palaces, and Mikhailovsky Castle. Mikhailovsky garden, Summer garden and Peter I’s Summer Palace as
well as Cabin of Peter the Great are also part of the museum complex’ (The State Russian Museum, 2016).
The Russian Museum also has a strong academic research orientation anв belongs to the state property.
The next artistic institution is represented by the largest Russian private museum of contemporary
art “Erarta”. Being relatively new (it was established in 2010), Erarta already has an impressive collection
of contemporary art produced by Russian artists in the second half of XX - beginning of XXI centuries.
The collection has about 2300 items - paintings, drawings , sculptures , objects, installations, and it is
getting constantly enlarged. The specificity of Erarta is that it also has an art gallery where visitors can
buy the artworks.
The abovementioned artistic institutions are united by the fact that all of them do not simply keep
and exhibit the artworks, but they also develops various educational and entertainment events (e.g.
concerts, performances) oriented towards different audience: school children, students, adults,
The forth institutions which I would like to present is LUDA gallery: a small contemporary art
gallery located in the centre of St.Petersburg. This gallery is a curatorial project of a famous St.Petersburg
artist Peter Belyi. This gallery was launched in 2009 and worked till 2010. The ‘rebirth’ of the gallery took
place in 2014. Peter Belyi describes the gallery in a following way: “LUDA is artists, groups, archives —
everything that reflects the high-strung and sensitive flesh of art.”
(Peter Belyi, 2016) LUDA is
specifically known for its unusual way of dealing with the exhibitional projects: almost every week the
gallery opens a new exhibition of artists representing mostly the Russian regions. LUDA is a non-profit
Finally, my research reflects the independent curatorial project - Creative Association of Curators
TOK. This is also a non-profit art organization which was founded in 2010 by Maria Veits and Anna
Bitkina. The organization serves as an “interactive intellectual platform for collaborations of curators,
artists, researchers, designers, sociologists, anthropologists and other professionals in the sphere of art and
culture from Russia and other countries” (TOK, 2016) and focuses on public art projects.
2.2.2. Becoming a curator: classical education vs. newcomers
As mentioned in the theoretical chapter above, the one of the key factor of a curator becoming a cultural
intermediary and creative professional is the educational background and thus cultural capital gained
through the educational system. At this point, the interviewed curators from Saint Petersburg are divided
into two groups: curators with art historian educational background and curators with curatorial diplomas.
18.104.22.168. Art historians as curators
The first group is represented by curators SC1, SC3 and SC4. Interestingly, these curators belong to the
same university and even the same department - History Faculty (today renamed into Institute of History),
History of Art Department at Saint Petersburg State University. This education is considered to be
classical among the curators, and my interviewees confirm this fact: “I have a classical art historian
education.” (SC3) It should be noticed that three curators graduated from this educational program in
different years, for example, SC4 studied there in the Soviet times. Interestingly, all of these interviewees
describe this program as lacking the curatorial studies: “... the curatorial practices are almost not
discussed there, there is only something like the introduction to the speciality course, which allows
meeting with the other museum institutions, of course, Saint Petersburg institutions.” (SC3) Moreover,
since this program is not directly related to the curatorial issues, the students and graduates, in fact, may
not have the self-identification as being a curator, even though they occupy this position: “Actually, I have
never considered myself as a curator, first of all, I am the art historian.” (SC1)
Still, such type of classical education creates a strong basis of knowledge and skills, which helps a
person with such academic background to achieve an expert status in the field of art. I would also like to
mention, that curators with such academic background usually also specialize in specific field of history of
art. In case of my study, for example, SC4 during her studies concentrated on the Russian art of the 17th
century period, while SC1 got her specialization in Old Russian architecture. Although these particular
specializations are not related to the contemporary art, the knowledge of history of art are essential in the
curatorial work, as my interviewees admit. Moreover, deep knowledge of particular field of art history, as
well as the skills of conducting research and writing analytical texts gained through the educational
process are extremely important for a curator and affect the curatorial practices in a way that curatorial
work becomes a research-based process: “I choose those directions which I know well, because we are not
supposed just to show, we also have to present some version, some academic research.” (SC1)
As was mentioned above, art historian educational programs lack the art management and
curatorial practices courses. That is why curators have to gain these skills and knowledge through other
experience, such as internships, exchange academic programs, parallel work. In case of my study, all of
curators representing the first group have some additional experience. For example, SC3 had an internship
in Pompidou-Metz, France: “It was great! Several months and… actually, in practice, yes. I was
immediately plunged into the curatorial context such as two exhibitions preparation, and this internship
[EUNIC internship for young curators] allows to gain experience not only in the institution where you
have your internship, but also different meetings with other institutions were organized, in particular, in
Luxemburg.” (SC3) Another example is the case of getting job as a student, which then turns to be the
permanent job, as in case of SC4: “I was 19 years old, and there was a position in the engraving
department of Russian Museum, and at that moment i was interested in the Old Russian Art, attended
seminars dedicated to the Old Russian Art and found the topic related to my work, the engraving, because
I was in the engraving department, and with my interest in the Old Russian Art.” (SC4) At this point it is
also interesting to observe the continuity of generations. SC4 mentioned that it was even supposed to take
place in her case, since her reviewer and chief from the Russian Museum expected her to continue
working on the engraving history at the Russian Museum. This did not happen, but SC4 still works there,
but in the Contemporary Art department. Curators while studying often meet a kind of a mentor, who
gives valuable knowledge and also introduces a young creative professional to the local art scene. For
example, SC4 was “guided” by the famous Soviet expert in Russian avant-garde Evgeny Fedorovich
Kovtunб and under his influence she decided to concentrate on the new forms of avant-garde in Russia.
Interestingly, today SC4 also works in the Saint Petersburg State University, leading the newly
established master program “Curatorial Studies” at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and also
teaching at the program “Art Criticism”, both of these programs are the only academic programs where
students can get curatorial education in Saint Petersburg. At this point I would like to describe the young
generation of curators who have graduated from this faculty.
22.214.171.124. Curatorial academic background
Two curators from my research sample, SC2 and SC5, represent the new generation of Russian curators
who got their degrees in the curatorial studies. SC5 graduated from a BA program of Faculty of Liberal
Arts and Sciences, Saint Petersburg State University. During her studying there, she spent one year in
Bard College (New York, USA). “Smolny gave me an open mindedness… has widen the borders
regarding what a person could actually do. Because I chose extremely diverse courses while studying.” SC5 describes the major input of her educational program. She concentrated not just on visual arts history
and theory, but also on social sciences and particularly on social anthropology. SC5 got her MA degree at
the Faculty of Sociology, Saint Petersburg State University, and also participated in academic exchange
program in Berlin working with such form of contemporary art as installations. During her Phd she
focused on visual methods in anthropology in order to combine social sciences and visual arts.
Meanwhile, SC2 got a BA diploma in journalism at the Saint Petersburg State University and
decided to continue her education at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She studied under the
guidance of SC4 at the “Art Criticism” program. Previously she participated in the curatorial school
organized by SC4 and Sergei Bugaev (Afrika), famous artist from Saint Petersburg. In her interview, SC2
expresses her view on “Art Criticism” MA program: “We had a mix, this and that, on the one hand, it was
not very good, because it was a little bit a muddle, but on the other hand, I think, this is also a specificity
of curatorship in Russia, because you have to do everything simultaneously. Write, create, and manage,
and everything.” (SC2) She sees the openness and practical orientation of the program as its main
advantage, and consider her graduation course as a successful one: “We were the first who made an
exhibition as a diploma project. It was also possible just to present something on a conference, but I made
an exhibition.” (SC2) Later on, SC2 has also participated in the curatorial summer school in Moscow
organized by Misiano.
SC4, who is teaching at the “Curatorial Studies” program, describes the new generation of Saint
Petersburg curators as people with diverse academic background who have a desire to create new concepts
which will show the contemporary art. She stresses the importance of following qualities required to
become a successful curator: “Curator is an international profession, the ability to rethink conceptually is
required, because curatorial job is conceptual, it is conceptualising, actually, it is rethinking a particular
idea. You have to know art [...] and you have to be an opportunistic person in this sense.” (SC4)
Although all the interviewees admit the positive role of the establishment of the
Studies” MA program, there are also some critical concerns regarding the way it is organized now. For
instance, SC2 says that “the guys [students] complain, because the programs [“Art Criticism” and
‘Curatorial Studies”] have been divided, but the left space is not filled in - regarding the teachers, and the
lectures. Because the lecturers remained the same.” (SC2) Similarly, SC5 doubts about the
“contemporaneity” of the program since it also has the classic art historian perspective and “too
academic”, while “it would be better to involve young curators, experts, who do something” (SC5), while
the curator’s job is a dynamic profession and thus it is important to know about new tendencies of the
Anyway, it could be concluded that the young generation of curators have a diverse academic
background, often not related directly to the history of art. The new forms of education, such as
internships and different curatorial schools also become a popular source of gaining the access to the
professional field of curatorship. The cultural capital gained through the educational experience becomes a
valuable source of achieving a status on the artistic scene. All of the interviewees consider the gaining of
the academic degree as an important step in their career. Those who currently do not have a PhD degree
are planning or already working on it. The academic degree particularly matter for those curators who
work in the state museum institutions, and since a curatorial job is dynamic and a curator might change his
or her place of work, the degree also matters for those who a currently working in a private structures or a
self-running projects. Thus we can see the cultural capital as a source of a legitimizing of the position of a
curator in the field of cultural production.
126.96.36.199. Academic background as a source of social capital
All of the five curators stressed the role of their academic background in the creation of their professional
network. The former course mates become friends and colleagues, co-founders of artistic projects and coorganizers of artistic events. The academic experience also allows curators to find the job or support in
their professional career. While studying, curators meet different people who work in the field of art, pr,
journalism, in governmental structures, business, etc. Thus, the educational basis plays an important role
in the shaping of the curatorial network which helps a curator in his or her practices further.
For example, the curator working in the State Hermitage, SC1, describing her work with
colleagues from different departments says that “we all have studied together, graduated from the same
chairs, had similar stories exactly related to the university [Saint Petersburg State University].” (SC1)
New acquaintances made during the studying period may lead to the future employment, as in the case of
SC2. Peter Belyi, famous artist from Saint Petersburg, invited her to assist him in the “Signal” in the
framework of MANIFESTA 10, and later on she started to work with him in LUDA gallery: “It was a
very intense moment, the year of my thesis defence, all in all, getting into the environment, and thanks to
“Signal”, of course, I met lots and lots of artists, and it was a very good start, actually, because I got to
know everything what is going on here [Saint Petersburg artistic scene] literally during one week.” (SC2)
Social capital gained from the students years of a curator helps to establish new artistic forms of
cooperation. For example, in 1986, together with former course mates and university colleagues, SC4
organized a club of young art historians which was lead by their teacher Ivan Dmitrievich Chechot, who is
currently also teaching at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences: “We […] got a space for our meetings.
We renovated it [...] and started to give talks on avant-garde, new art, invited musicians there.” (SC4)
When this union of young art historians lost their space one and a half year later, they continued to
collaborate and communicate, and today they also sometimes work together, keeping their friendly circle
of creative professionals. Another indicative example of course mates creative collaboration is the
Creative Association of Curators TOK, Saint Petersburg. Curators used to study together at the Smolny,
and after some period of time they decided to work together as a duo: “At that moment An’ka also
experienced a kind of a crisis, in her work, so we decided to establish our own organization, where we
could do the projects at the interface of social sciences and contemporary art.” (SC5) Today they are
successful representatives of independent Russian curators actively working in Saint Petersburg aтв
188.8.131.52. Family background
At this point I would also like to mention the family background of Russian curators represented in my
sample. As stated in the paragraph 184.108.40.206, the embodied state of cultural capital owned by an individual is
affected by the socialization processes taking place in the family. Thus, it is interesting to trace the role of
the curators’ family influence on their choice of a creative professional’s career and, first of all, the
In case of my research only one Russian curator, SC3, grow up in the artistic family. She is a
daughter of a famous Russian artist, a member of an art group in Saint Petersburg - “Mitki”. Moreover,
her grandparents were also artists. She confirms that her choice for worki ng in the art sphere was strongly
influenced by her family’s occupations and artistic surroundings: “Well, first of all, it affected my choice
of future profession. Of course, it affected me in the way that I am good in the art, especially, in
contemporary art. Well, maybe better that my course mates, because I am in that environment… because I
know artists well since childhood, I know how to communicate with them.” (SC3) The example of SC3
shows how the family may contribute to the professional curatorial career by enriching cultural and social
capital of a curator, and thus shaping the curatorial practices and strategies.
The other four curators admit that their parents were always in favour of cultural education and
supported their enthusiasm for art. In case of SC4, whose family had to travel a lot due to the father’s
occupation in the military service, but after they moved to Leningrad, the new family tradition was
established: every weekend SC4 went to the museums: “I have to say that when I was ten, I didn’t
understand why all children as normal children went to drink “Buratino” lemonade, while I was standing
in the line in front of the Hermitage or Russian Museum in a violent heat or keen frost. […] and then you
get into this palace, this museum, and you see all these paintings, you plunge into them. It was such an
experience!” (SC4) Moreover, SC4 says that her father’s job - he worked in the missile troops - also
influenced her curatorial practices: “I actively work on the space topic, I wrote a lot about space, [...] I did
exhibitions about space, so in this sense my father influenced me strongly.” (SC4)
SC5 describes her family as “typical family from Leningrad”,
with philological academic
background: “Well, of course, there were books about art at home. And, naturally, you know, if you were
born in Leningrad, you were taken to… Hermitage, all the theatres.” (SC5) She also stresses the
supportiveness of the family in her choice of independent curator’s career: “Of course, this helped a lot,
because, well, when we just started doing something as curators, everything was not very clear.” (SC5)
Similarly, SC2 describes her parents as very supportive, having liberal views, and creative, although they
are not occupied with artistic professions: “But they have always supported me, and mother always
wanted me to do something like this, well, I mean, to find myself. It means that I could work anywhere, but
they both, mother and father, always strongly supported me.” (SC2)
As I discovered from the collected interviews, family support of the choice of becoming a curator
is highly appreciated by the curators. All of the Russian interviewees stress the importance of their parents
initiatives to spark the interest of them when they were children and teenagers in art. Such family
traditions as going together to museums where the art is shown, or to attend other artistic events create the
basis for long-standing interest to artworks and people who produce them. If a person have been raised in
the artistic family, he or she also gets specific skills valuable in the job of a curator.
To summarize the abovementioned facts, I can conclude that the collected data show that cultural
capital of Russian curators is shaped by the socialization in the family, as well as by the educational
background. The generation continuity has been also found, and is presented in the two forms: the family
one and the “from teacher to student” continuity.
The educational and academic background of curators may differ, but in case of Saint Petersburg it
remains to be rather classical, although it is still diverse due to the specializations of curators in particular
fields of art and art history. The institutionalised state of cultural capital gained by curators through their
academic experience becomes a starting point in the curatorial career and provides a curator working in
Russia with a legitimate position of an expert in the art scene. Moreover, the social capital gained by
curators during their studies also plays an important role as the personal professional network starts to
develop at the university period of getting into the artistic scene.
2.2.3. Curators in state artistic institutions
As it was already mentioned above, to curators from Saint Petersburg work in the state funded museums State Hermitage (SC1) and Russian Museum (SC4). These museums are the perfect examples of the big
museum structures with complicated organizational system and various departments representing it and
services working for it. This structural specificity of a museum of art leads to the fact that curators
working there have to mediate between various agents inside their working environment.
In case of the contemporary art department of the Hermitage, curator has to coordinate and control
various processes in cooperation with different services of this institution, such as financial, legal and pr
departments. SC1 describes the work of hermitage curator as consisting of various tasks: “Curator is a
person who takes main decisions. Yes, he develops the project concept, he decides which objects are to be
included in the project, he leads the negotiations, he writes texts, articles. But an exhibition is not just
words and negotiations, it is also a lot of organizational work.” (SC1) She also mentions such duties, as
organizing and controlling transportation of the artworks, mantling and dismantling, working with custom
services. For all these tasks performed during the exhibition organization there are specific services in the
hermitage, and curator has to carefully plan all the actions and to be present at the every stage of its
performance. SC1 similarly mentions the organizational work and communication alongside with
cooperation with various agents as an essential part of curatorship.
SC4 associates the work in the state museum as giving the feeling of being protected by the image
of the institution, which refers to the notion of a symbolic capital: “You have such a beautiful name,
beautiful visiting card.” (SC4) This means that the state museum has an appreciated status of a
trustworthy institutions for various agents - audience, artists, partners, etc. In this sense curator working in
such museum also gets a legitimate status of an artistic scene agents, which provides him or her with
various opportunities for cooperation with art-related agents, and guarantees the stable public attending
exhibitions, which can be seen as an important advantage.
Moreover, a prestigious status of such artistic institutions as the Hermitage and the Russian
Museum attracts the interest from international colleagues and institutions and there are diverse
opportunities to organize a joint project or two show artworks from international collections, as well as to
present Russian collections of art abroad. But, according to SC1 there are often many difficulties due to
the fact that partners sometimes do not understand the complexity of big museum’s structure: “Those who
want to organize something do not understand that it is, in fact, a giant organizational work, which is very
hard to be done by those who are smaller than the Hermitage.” (SC1)
Curator working in the state artistic institution is supposed to correspond to its structure, as well as
to support it. It means that a curator has a specific task of taking the additional responsibility of
representing the well-known image. SC1 sees it as a positive element of her work in the hermitage:
“Great responsibility is good, not bad, because it motivates you to do your work well, that is why I don’t
see it as a barrier, vice versa, I think it is an advantage. [...] The higher the bar, the more ambitions you
have and you do your job better.” (SC1) SC1 believes that the difficulties caused by the existence of the
huge organizational structures and bureaucratic issues related to it can be overcome by the good selforganization of working processes: “if you accept that there is such a state of affairs, that there are rules,
that the elementary rules should be kept to make system work [...] then it doesn’t initially cause
difficulties, if you accept it at the beginning, and work, and shape your work according to all these
Furthermore, big museums having great collections of artworks, which SC4 calls the “treasures”,
allow a curator to get deep knowledge of them and to create a strong basis for the future work through the
intellectual labour. This reflects the idea of enriching curator’s cultural capital which is essential for thу
curator’s career perspectives. Both SC4 and SC1 stresses the importance of academic basis for the
On the other hand, there are also many challenges in such professional occupation: “It is as if you
are entering the monastery. And you have to handle it, because in the museum you have to work at least
ten years to become a specialist, so you are studying artworks, sitting in the library during ten years.
Later on, after ten years, such a slow maturation, you understand that you have become a specialist, you
are ready to work independently.” (SC4) SC1 mentioned that in the Hermitage everyone has to start a
career with the position of the research assistance, and later on, depending on professional performance
and academic career development, a person (curators as well) achieve the higher position in the museum’s
hierarchy. Taking into account the dynamic and fast-changing life today, this might be a challenge for a
young curator, states SC4. There is another challenge related with financial issues of the low wages in the
state-funded museums, which might be a push off factor for a curator.
SC4 gives a typology of exhibitions which she organizes in the framework of Russian Museum.
First of all, exhibitions based on the collection of Russian contemporary art which belongs to Russian
museum. SC4 provided an example of an exhibitional project which took place in 2010 - “Brushstroke.
The New Artists and Necrorealists. 1982 - 1991”: “This exhibition was related with the fact that the
Russian Museum in due time received an enormous gift from the artists in the beginning of the 90s, from
artists - Timur Novikov and Sergei Bugaev (Afrika), and we finally showed
this collection.” (SC4)
Secondly, there are thematic exhibitions “where, actually, museum artworks and artworks outside the
museum are gathered.” (SC4) The next type is the “imported” exhibitions, where the artworks produced
by foreign artists are shown. SC4 also works on the exhibition programs, such as German video-art
program which starts in May, 2016: “Once in a month the video program will be changed, it will be
shown on the Ludwig exposition. [“The Ludwig Museum at the Russian Museum” - is a permanent
second half of the 20th century art presented to the Russian Museum by the German
collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig] So we, me as a curator from the Russian side and a German curator,
we created this program. And, actually, there will be lectures.” (SC4) Finally, there are also retrospective
exhibitions where the works of one particular artists are shown. SC4 finds an interesting difference
between retrospective exhibitions organised in the Russian Museum in the Soviet times and today: “In
the Soviet time only classics, so to say, academics, Moiseenko and Mylnikov [Evsey Evseevich Moiseenko
and Andrei Andreevich Mylnikov, famous Soviet artist] could have an exhibition only once during their
life, they could have a retrospective exhibition. Retrospective exhibitions were shown only when the artist
had already died. But after the Perestroika, already… a living artist could have a retrospective exhibition,
but there are not so many of them. Of course, there is usually only one exhibition in a big museum, in
extremis, two [retrospective] exhibitions.” (SC4)
SC4 works on various types of exhibitions within the Russian Museum, and she also has an
opportunity to work on other projects outside this artistic institution, both in Russia and internationally.
Meanwhile, SC1 works only on the architectural program of contemporary art department in the State
Hermitage Museum. She also works on different types of exhibitions: solo shows, such as Zaha Hadid
exhibition (2015), group shows, thematic exhibitions, which constitutes the main interest of SC1 as a
curator, since such exhibitions are based on the Hermitage collection and require the strong research basis.
Both SC1 and SC4 stress the fact that even if the exhibitions are formed not out of the collections’ objects,
they have to be adjusted to the museums’ concepts: “Hermitage is a very specific space which has its own
history, own life, it interacts with exhibit items in its own way, and we make our selection basing on this
experience. We are interested to do a project for the Hermitage.” (SC1) SC4 speaks similarly about the
situation in the Russian Museum: “Certainly, when there is an exhibition in the [Russian] Museum, it
surely fits the museum.” (SC1) Curators in the Hermitage and in the Russian Museum make exhibition
programs-planning. SC1 tries to left enough time for exhibition’s preparation - up to 3 years. Moreover,
such planning allows to get better financial support: “When the exhibition is planned in advance, of
course, there is a budget for it.” (SC4)
Summarizing the abovementioned specificities of curatorship in the state-funded artistic
institutions in Saint Petersburg, it should be noticed that curatorial work has to be adjusted to the
particular rules of such museums. This requires mediation between various colleagues and services and
taking responsibility over each step of the exhibition preparation and presentation. To occupy a position in
the museum hierarchy which allows a curator to be a decision maker, he or she has to possess cultural
capital enriched by the skills and knowledge obtained during the first years of working in the institution.
Although there are internal difficulties related to the organizational work, curators working in the
state museums in Russia get valuable social and symbolic capital due to the high status of the institution.
They have opportunities to use it in their curatorial practices, but the curatorial strategies of a curator are
thus shaped by norms, values and traditions which constitute the museum’s image.
2.2.4. Curators in private artistic institutions and self-run projects
The following paragraph gives insights on the specificity of curatorship in the independent artistic
institutions or art projects in Saint Petersburg. There are three types of institutions being analyzed: private
museum of contemporary art, private gallery, and public art projects.
220.127.116.11. Curatorship in a private museum
The example of successful private museum structure in Saint Petersburg is the museum of contemporary
art “Erarta”, which also has a rather big and complex structure. Thus, SC3, the curator working there,
describes her working experience there in some ways similarly to the curators working in state museums:
“Erarta is a very big structure, because here are many various things.” (SC3)
This fact leads to the necessity to cooperate with different museum’s departments: “More often, of
course, the greatest collaboration takes place with the pr-service.” (SC3) According to SC3 work together
with such museum’s department as technical service, so-called “workshop” where the artworks get
“dressed” with frames and other elements required for the showing an artwork. This service also helps to
prepare the exhibition space for the upcoming show: curator works closely with this service in the
processes of mantling and dismantling, which are the direct curatorial duties. Similarly to the curators
working in the state institutions, SC3 has to control all the other issues related to the exhibition creation:
artworks selection, communication with artists, transport and custom control, writing texts.
Meanwhile, there are issues specific to the private institution which affect the curatorial practices:
“Since our museum is a private structure, ehm, and is financed by private founders, thus, a curator
doesn’t belong to himself, he has to defend each project in front of the founders.” (SC3) Although the
budget has to be approved by the main decision makers in artistic institutions of various size and structure,
SC3 stresses that in her case it is sometimes an extremely challenging moment: “The curator’s task is to
be able to give, to present something in a very diplomatic way, sometimes it is very difficult. Sometimes it
leads to some kind of wars, when you just fight, fight for the project to be implemented.” (SC3)
Another specificity of the Erarta is routed in the fact that it is a rather new artistic institution. Thus,
the on of the most important task is to attract the new audience, to enlarge its public. Simultaneously,
Erarta is aimed at doing interesting and deep projects by showing diverse forms of contemporary art.
Because of such tasks, Erarta’s structure of the exhibitional department is divided into two subdivisions the curatorial department where three curators work on temporary exhibitions individually, and managers
who organize shows for the vast audience: “We have exhibitions which we do for ourselves, so to say,
those that we like, they are interesting for us. They are aimed at supporting artists, attracting Saint
Petersburg public to artworks produced by artists from other cities or directions, which are not wellknown. And in the same time there are exhibitions, well, roughly speaking, attract the widest audience,
who might be not ready yet to perceive contemporary art. Yeas, they are ready to attend an exhibition as
an entertaining event.” (SC3) The example of the latter one type of an exhibition is a recent Erarta’s
project of fashion shoes done by architects. Such exhibitions cause a great public interest, and then people
coming to see such expositions also get to know the other forms of more complicated contemporary art:
“They discover our museum, our collection, our temporary exhibitions.” (SC3)
SC3 works on two types of the exhibitions - solo shows and thematic exhibitions. She always
organizes temporary exhibitions which are not related to the permanent collection of Erarta, which also
constitutes a separate subdivision of the museum’s work. At this point, she has to communicate a lot with
various artists, to find them, to select artworks. Being a recognized by the professional community as
actual contemporary art expert, SC3 has an opportunity to invite famous artists from Russian artistic
scene, as well as international artists.
Cultural capital gained through her family, education, practical experience becomes a key source
for successful collaboration with different agents and particularly artists, which is also supported by her
social capital, which is constituted with the help of her artistic family’s network and professional
experience of working with and within different artistic institutions. Mediating between various actors
becomes again a key function of a curator.
18.104.22.168. Self-run curatorial projects
My research represents several forms of independent curatorial projects: LUDA Gallery (SC2) and
Creative Association of Curators “TOK” (SC5). Moreover, SC2 is also involved in the work of CEC
ArtsLink - an international organization founded in the USA and having a representative office in Saint
Petersburg aimed at support of creative professionals and stimulation of various art projects. Art Prospect
public art festival annually held in Saint Petersburg, where SC2 participates as co-curator, is organized by
this organization as well.
Working as an independent curator in a low-scale project is completely different from the working
in the artistic institution with a big structure. It should be noticed that by “low-scale project” I mean the
size of a team constantly working on artistic events of a project, which is normally rather small (from 1 up
to 8 people). In case of me research there a curatorial duos, which means that all the curatorial tasks and
duties are divided between two people, and thus they have to communicate, collaborate and thus mediate a
lot between various external actors involved in the cultural production processes.
The first specificity of such project which should be reflected is the space for artistic events in the
framework of such projects. For example, TOK being concentrated on the public art events and thus
organizing them in different places, do not have a permanent space for their work: “We don’t have an
office, we work from home, there is no place in Saint Petersburg where we usually stay. And we also do
not have our own exhibition space. But yesterday we were thinking if we actually need it or not. Because,
of course, you are better known if you have some space, because people associate you with the space, they
come there, and so on.” (SC5) On contrary, LUDA Gallery has own permanent location, but the period of
time for having their small exhibition space remains unclear: “We were given this space for free for two
years period, and actually this two years are passing away now, but the space is for sale now, and… we
are here for uncertain period of time. So we pay here only for the electricity.” (SC2)
Another specificity is directly related to the financial issues, since the independent curators often
have to find financial support themselves. Due to the fact that such self-run projects are normally
organized in a form of non-profit organization, the new curatorial function appears as one of the key
element required for the project implementation - applying for various grants: “Every time there are some
new duties, we shouldn’t forget about such an important thing as writing applications. [...] We live on
grants, we do all our exhibitions on grants money.” (SC5) Similarly, SC2 states that in case of
collaboration with European projects they “try to receive a grant” (SC2) or support from such
organizations as French Institute in Saint Petersburg. SC5 says that they also receive the financial support
mostly from international organizations and funds: “Since foreign artists are actively involved in our
projects, the money mainly come from consulates and funds who give money on contemporary art projects
and work with Russia.” (SC5) She also admits that the process of writing an application for a grant is very
time-consuming. It also means that curators working on such projects and searching for grants have to be
skilled in budgeting, since it is a specific type of work, as well as to be able to present a convincing
Furthermore, both SC2 and SC5 have to perform various functions themselves as they do not have
any services to be engaged in such activities as mantling and dismantling, pr, transporting of art objects,
buying necessary equipment, organizing artists’ visits, and other additional to the curatorial practices
tasks: “I deal with all the organizational issues, such as who is arriving, what is arriving, what to buy for
them, what to buy for us. I do newsletters, work with press, Facebook, webpage, all communication,
invitations, and so on.” (SC2) Similarly, SC5 admits that she has also to perform all these tasks: “Curator
does absolutely everything today.” The abovementioned tasks and duties can be called as practical ones,
and if in the case of state museums or private artistic institution curator rather controls these tasks
performed by the colleagues, in the self-run projects such labour division is impossible, and thus the
purely curatorial tasks, such as communication with artists, creating exhibitions concepts, etc. are
combined with all organizational issues: “Curator comes up with an idea. He chooses an artist who could
implement his ideas. He finds money to arrange everything. He communicates with enormous amount of
people involved in the project. This is, I don’t know, the space, technicians, pr, designers and so on.”
TOK tend to plan their project in advance. There are several projects inside, for example, “Critical
Mass” public art project, which takes place once in two years, but the preparations start earlier before,
since curators have to invite different artists, and the project is based on a curatorial research, which also
takes time. Both SC2 and SC4 are responsible for all publications and texts writing in their projects, while
the exhibition or project concepts are developed collectively with their colleagues: “Peter [Peter Belyi] ]
is the main curator, I am as a co-curator, but yes, we work together. So, in principle, we have rather
democratic, so he comes up with something, wants to do something, and we discuss it. I come up with
something, and then we also discuss.” (SC2)
As we can see, curators working on independent artistic projects are multifunctional creative
professionals even in a broader sense than curators working in complex artistic structures. Their skills and
thus cultural capital are enriched by the knowledge of working in various spheres, and their professional
networks varies significantly by the agents involved in it.
2.2.5. Curator and artist: having a show
They key relationship in the curatorial practices leading to the artistic project implementation is the
interaction between an artist and a curator. In case if an artist has died, then he is replaced by those
actor(s) who own the artworks. The communication strategies chosen by curators towards artists may
differ. The following paragraph describes the tendences in curator - artist relationships of curators from
Significantly, four out of five curators from Saint Petersburg have underlined the necessity of
establishing friendship with the artists. SC4 describes this phenomena in a following way: “What is it to
be friends with artists? It means to know them well, to know the older generation, and new generation, to
treat them humanly, with respect, because the respect to the artistic community comes first, it is the most
important. And if you love art and are friends with artists, so you know art and artists, it will let, plus to
your knowledge and idea that you have, it will let ti fill the idea with artworks.” (SC4) Similarly, SC2 says
that “Art is such a sphere, where a lot of things are passed from one person to another, of course, it is
about a contact, and about friendship.” (SC2) SC5 also underlines the importance of personal contact with
an artist and the necessity to have a similar way of thinking with an artist during the working process,
otherwise the project will not be implemented: “It is very important to be set up on each other, percieve
thу way the artist work, and artist need to understand how this curator works.” (SC5) SC3 also states that
the personal contacts matter for the quality of an exhibition, as well as for the process of work with an
artist: “Everything comes from personal experience. Some threads appear, and then they are united in
something more global.” (SC3)
Meanwhile, being friends with an artist does not mean that curator does not create a framework of
the future exhibition oк a project. Depending on a type of the artistic events, curators choose various
strategies of working with artists. For example, if there is a collective show, SC4 believes that curator has
to be “tough and even totalitarian,” since otherwise the exhibition may fail in case a curator gives a
freedom to an artist to decide which artworks are to be exposed. On contrary, she thinks that in case of the
individual show it is normal to consult the artist about the final choice of the objects. Thus, the concept
developed by curator should be kept, and a curator plays the leading role in the exhibition composition.
SC3 also says that if there is a thematic exhibition, then the artist almost cannot intervene in the exhibition
concept, as “curator becomes a leading artist.” (SC3) She also believes that it is more convenient to work
alone, that is why she prefers when an artist gives a freedom to take own curatorial decision regarding the
artworks selection and the composition of the exhibitions. SC3 also stressed that specifically the artists
presenting installations are involved in the mantling process.
Meanwhile, SC5 says that “You have to understand that you shouldn’t press the artist, because the
artist is a boss.” Similarly, SC2 tends to work on the exhibition together with artists: “There are such
cases when the artworks arrive, and we realise that it is not conceptual enough, or weak, and then,
especially if the artist is also there, we starts to discuss the artworks during the mantling process. [...] To
work with an artist somehow, to do some psychoanalysis or even elimination of illiteracy.” (SC2)
SC1 and SC3 also underlined the fact that there are some limitations for artists caused not by a
curator, but rather by the technical requirements and specificities of exhibition space, and curator has to
explain this to an artist and come to a consensus.
Interestingly, SC1 used to prefer working with the archives than with the living artist, but now she
enjoys both types of “communication” with the artworks. Since the Hermitage often invites “stars” for the
temporary projects, it might be difficult to establish the working process with such an artist or architect
due to his or her schedule or personality: “They all have some complexes, specificities. It is impossible to
communicate with some of them due to the fact that he is a “star”. Some of them are very democratic and
give you a full access to himself. As a rule, such process is much more fruitful.” (SC1)
Speaking about the process of communication with the artists, all five curators have similar
strategies. In order to find an artist they all attend various artistic events: local, national and international.
That is how SC4 describes it: “First of all, we always attend exhibitions, observe what is going on.
Follow, read the journals. If we are interested in the artist, then it depends on if it is a solo show or the
artists is to be included in a group project.” (SC4) SC5 follows the same strategy: “We watch a lot, we try
at least once a year to attend some big event [...] such as Documenta or Manifesta, something that has a
big cultural importance. We try to follow artists who are interesting for us.” (SC5) SC2 says that it is
easier to find an artist in Saint Petersburg and to start a cooperation through meeting artists on the local
events, but she also tries to attend such events as Venice or Berlin Biennales, and if she cannot, then she
studies the lists of participants and search the information about their artworks. Sometimes artists find
curators and suggest their artworks to be presented, but the cooperation does not necessarily lead to the
successful cooperation, since curators prefer to work with the concept developed by themselves.
After the exhibition concept is developed by a curator, he or she starts interaction with an artist by
presenting the concept in person if it is possible, or via phone and internet. Since curators often work with
artists not living in Saint Petersburg, communication via skype and email becomes essential. Artists do not
always attend the exhibitions where their works are represented, but still they pay a great attention to the
installation processes: “The only thing is, of course, that many of them often insist on particular
installation of their artworks, it is always important for an artist, and then they may come for the mantling
to install the work in a better way.” (SC5)
The curatorial choice of the artist strongly depends on the exhibition or the project concept, that is
why curators already have a pre-selection of artists by genres, directions or even geography as in the case
of LUDA Gallery: “We show the regions, or other cities, or other countries.” (SC2)
Generally, it could be concluded that Russian curators tend to establish friendly relationships with
an artist, they also try to understand the artist’s personality in order to find the right approach for the
collaboration. The artistic network gives a curator an opportunity to follow the tendencies of
contemporary art by attending various events and meeting artists personally, while the internet and other
means of communication also help to establish such contacts and to organize the cooperation.
Interestingly, all curators confirm that it is sometimes difficult to collaborate with an artist due to his or
her personality or specifically due to the lack of self-organization. That is why curators have to be tactful,
diplomatic, creative, and sometimes even tough. In order to get an access to the objectified state of
cultural capital in a form of artworks, curators have to be flexible and watchful, as well as their knowledge
of art becomes essential alongside with their status of a professional curator, which refers to the
importance of a curatorial symbolic capital.
2.2.6. Curatorship in St.Petersburg today: overcoming challenges
As in every profession, curators also face challenges. In case of curatorship in St.petersburg there are two
groups of major difficulties observed: personal challenging curatorial moments and the challenges created
by the local artistic scene.
The first group of challenges refers to such aspects of curatorial work which are related to the
intellectual tasks and everyday duties. Being creative people working with aesthetic issues, curators may
face problems with the exhibition concept development. Moreover, due to the fact that curators have to
mediate between various agents a lot, and thus to communicate with different types of people, including
the artistic persons who often react emotionally, there are also challenges of interpersonal communication.
The challenges of the local artistic scene which curators also have to deal with shape the curatorial
practices and thus are particularly interesting for my research. According to the interviewees, although
Saint Petersburg is considered to be the cultural capital of Russia, the contemporary art is not presented on
a proper scale there. This happens because there is a lack of contemporary art institutions and financial
support for contemporary art projects: “The problem is in the absence of spaces, and, obviously, finances.
To compare with Moscow, actually, it is much worse here. Elementary, just because there is no place and
no money to do some interesting projects. Then our curators go to Moscow or Europe in order to do
something.” (SC3) SC4 also support this idea by considering the example of contemporary art galleries in
Saint Petersburg. She believes that there should be much more of them than we have today. Interestingly,
all curators mentioned the same contemporary art institutions, namely the State Hermitage, the Russian
Museum, Erarta, Anna Nova Gallery, Marina Gisich Gallery, LUDA Gallery, Savina Gallery, Novy
Museum, and Vertical Gallery. SC1 explains the lack of contemporary art spaces in the following way:
“In my opinion, our Saint Petersburg is provincial. It is… neither good nor bad. It is as it is.” (SC1)
Another curator, SC2, also sees the problem of the newly emerged spaces which are not able to
become noticeable for the local artistic scene: “The mistake of many places is that they do not choose any
trajectory, yes. And, plus, I think that another big and important factor is the experience and
professionalism, Sometimes, there none of them in the spaces.” (SC2) Hopefully, the situation with the
lack of proficiency among the creative professionals dealing with contemporary art will start to change
soon, as the first steps have been already made, such as the establishment of the abovementioned
curatorial educational programs “Art Critics” and “Curatorial Studies”. Another important artistic
educational institutions which support the development of the local contemporary art scene is Pro Arte and
National Centre for Contemporary Art: “Pro Arte educates the young artists, and the NCCA makes
different programs and exhibitions.” (SC4) Moreover, such museum structures as the Hermitage, the
Russian Museum, Erarta, and independent initiatives as TOK or Art Prospect and CEC ArtsLink develop
various educational events and programs, organize lectures and conferences in order to share the personal,
local, national and international experience of cultural and artistic production. Curators are also involved
in such events and share their experience with diverse audience.
Meanwhile, another problem faced by curators in Saint Petersburg is the lack of art criticism: “We
either have publications about the upcoming event, or post-release, or some ordered article which just
describes the event. Extremely seldom there is exactly an art critic commenting or arguing something that
he doesn’t like. There is almost no professional press left, almost all the journals are closed and there is
nobody who could write.” (SC2) That is why curators see writing analytical texts about their projects as an
important task, which also support the idea that curators are self-reflective cultural intermediaries.
Curators also compare the today situation on the artistic scene of Saint Petersburg with the
beginning of the 90s when there was a great interest to the Russian contemporary art in Saint Petersburg
and worldwide: “You could have met four directors of the biggest foreign museums at the Isaac square in
the same time, not knowing what to do with them, because you had to bring them to the all artists’
workshops. Everybody were impressed. Plus, these museums started to organize international exhibitions
and to invite our artists, to do curatorial projects here, to bring here. There were, so to say, fundings from
institutions and national funds. Now we keep going because of that charge, that fuel.” (SC4) At that time
there were various important exhibitions organized, such as “Art territory” initiated and curated by famous
Swedesh collectioner and curator Pontus Hultén in cooperation with the curators from the Russian
Museum. It was the first time when such significant artists as Marcel Duchamp were shown in Russia. For
example, SC1 also thinks that the period of the 90s was brighter for the contemporary art in Saint
petersburg than the recent years: “I think that if 90s were now, I would attend much more events than I do
Interviewees also mentioned Manifesta, a complex exhibition which took place in 2014 in Saint
Petersburg. This international event is considered by them to be a new starting point in the development of
the local artistic scene: “I think that everyone in Saint Petersburg after Manifesta felt maybe a kind of a
freedom or courage. And now do different stories, are not afraid of being mistaken, to do something.
There are a lot of initiatives from young artists and curators.” (SC2) All of the curators represented in my
sample participated in the Manifesta events. Meanwhile, SC3 thinks that Manifesta has shown the not
institutionalised state of curatorship in Saint Petersburg: “At that time, of course, all the curators became
active, almost everywhere, almost in every communal flat there were some exhibition. So, yes, many
names were strengthened, and there are enough good curators in our city, I think. And they do their job
well. But, almost all of them, every recognised curator is, obviously a person with an international
background.” (SC3) This means that, according to SC3, in order to become a successful curator in Russia
a person should have a valuable experience gained abroad. This opinion can be confirmed by the fact that
all of the interviews actually have such an experience and consider it to be important in their professional
Summarising the abovementioned facts, curators in Saint petersburg have to adapt to the local
artistic scene and to be united in a professional community of artists, curators and other creative
professionals in order to overcome the challenges faced during their practices. This is done through
sharing the experience, following each other practices and enriching cultural and social capital by being in
touch with international artistic community.
2.3. Empirical analysis: curatorship in Hamburg
The sample of interviewees from Hamburg represents five curators. Two of them currently do not belong
to a particular artistic institutions and work as freelance curators (HC1 and HC3), although HC3 used to
be an art director of Kunsthaus, but currently both of them organize exhibitions within different artistic
platforms. The next one is a FRISE artistic community member (HC2) who is an artist also occupied with
curatorial practices. The last two interviewees presents Hamburg artistic institution: Deichtorhallen (HC4)
and Kunsthaus (HC5). The following paragraph provides a brief description of the abovementioned
2.3.1. Artistic institutions represented in the research sample (Hamburg)
Since two curators work as freelancers and do not belong to a particular organizations, I will concentrate
on the latter three institutions: FRISE, Deichtorhallen and Kunsthaus.
The FRISE Künstlerhaus (artistic house) has a long history dating back to 1977 when the group
of artists from hamburg united together in order to providу joint accommodation for their living, working,
exhibiting, communication and spaces exchange. The FRISE artists represents different forms of
contemporary art and work with different techniques and formats. Many of them are also involved in the
curatorial practices due to the fact that there is an exhibition space in the FRISE house and an international
artistic residence program.
Second example of an artistic institution covered by my research is the Deichtorhallen Hamburg
which is one of the largest exhibition center for photography and contemporary art in Europe.
(Deichtorhallen Hamburg, 2016) The Deichtorhallen occupies two historic buildings located in the centre
of Hamburg which were originally built as market halls. After the restoration of the buildings in 1989, the
city of Hamburg assigned the buildings to a limited liability company: Deichtorhallen-Ausstellungs
GmbH and the exhibitional programs were launched. Today the Deichtorhallen has an impressive
collection of artworks and diverse artistic program including various educational events.
Finally, I would like to introduce the Kunsthaus Hamburg - an exhibition hall for contemporary art
founded in 1962. The Kunsthaus is located near the Deichtorhallen and also occupies a part of the building
where the former market hall used to be. The Kunsthaus does not have own art collection. The exhibition
program oа this hall is dedicated to contemporary visual arts and related disciplines, particularly
concentrated on the artworks of young artists representing the Hamburg artistic scene.
Due to the fact that freelance curators collaborate with different artistic institutions, they will be
mentioned throughout the further text.
2.3.2. Joining the profession: academic background
As well as in Russia, educational background matter a lot for curators working in Hamburg. This
experience shape their tastes and preferences in the curatorial practices. The cultural capital gained
through the university experience is also important for career perspectives, since the curatorship in
Germany is more intense, that is why curators have to possess expert skills and knowledge in order to
occupy a strong position in the artistic scene of Hamburg.
Interestingly, the interviewees from Hamburg represent different Universities and programs. For
example, HC1, who is now working as a freelance curator, was born in the USA and studied literature and
languages in the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and in the University of North Carolina. Later on
she decided to change her focus to the contemporary art: “I studied in Göttingen, which is where my
father taught at university and... and in the United States and I studied, originally I studied poetry,
literature and linguistics. When I came to Hamburg 25 years ago and have been, and refocused my, my
priorities to, to contemporary art.” (HC1) She stresses the fact that her family influenced this change of
focus: “Actually, my father painted, so and always had this idea that he would either study art, or
languages, or math [laughing]. And then he decided to, then became a specialist in languages. but he did
paint quite seriously for a while and... so, there was always an interest also for the family in art and we
went to, you know, we looked at churches and went to see some you know, historical art, and also some
you know, went to larger exhibitions Documenta was pretty close by, right next to castle and so.” (HC1)
Her interest in contemporary art was developed from the early childhood when she started to visit such
exhibitions as Documenta with her parents. Due to her MA degree in literature, she started to write and
work as a journalist. When she came to Hamburg, she started to work as an editor in a local newspaper
and to write about various issues including art. At that moment the artistic scene of Hamburg was very
bright: “There was kind of wave one might say of contemporary art institutions either freshly opening up.
[...] And there were new curators heading the Kunstverein and the Kunsthalle [...]. So, all these things
were happening and was you know, very interesting and, and exciting for me at that time to accompany
these developments in Hamburg.” (HC1) HC1 describes her involvement into the artworld of Hamburg as
a constant communication with contemporary artists, as a process of learning about contemporary art from
artists themselves. Consequently, HC1 was involved in curatorial practices: “The colleague and I opened
up gallery space and we featured some quite interesting exhibitions with, with kind of Hamburg-based
artists.” (HC1) Since that time, HC1 started to write only about art, to work on catalogues for exhibitions
and to curate her own projects, and then also to teach at the university. She has been teaching at the
University of Arts Hamburg for over six years. This year HC1 is defending her PhD thesis at the
University of the Arts Braunschweig.
Another example of a curator coming out of the artistic community is HC2, who is actually a
recognised contemporary artist. He graduated from the
University of Fine Arts, Hamburg, where he
studied Visual Communication and Fine Arts. His curatorial pass started in the late 90s when he began to
cooperate with various NGOs, such as International Association of Art, by participating in conferences
organized by them: “When I stepped in the boat, I started to make... side-panel for the conference with, to
show art, video-art.” (HC2) After that he decided to launch a little video art gallery together with other
artists in the public space in the centre of Hamburg: “Bought one of the first projectors you could afford at
that time. So, we did projection from inside outside. And our interest was to show video art in public
space, and at. In the situation where nobody expects artworks.” (HC2) Today HC2 curates numerous
exhibitions and participate s in joint curatorial projects, basing on his knowledge of the artistic scene,
artists and his personal experience as an artist.
These two abovementioned curators illustrate the overflow of forms of capitals - when social
capital (being acquainted with artists) becomes cultural capital (knowing artists and their artworks) which creates a basis for starting curatorship and entering this professional field. Moreover, such inside
perspective of self-learning and getting practical experience firstly represents an interesting type of
position of a recognised curator. Also, HC2 represents the specific group of curators -
curating artists - which is typical for German artistic scene.
Meanwhile, curators HC3, HC4, and HC5 have a more typical educational background for the
curatorship. HC3, representing the older generation of Hamburg curators, graduated from the Hamburg
University where he studied art history, pedagogy and archeology: “Pedagogics and art history, so... we
all though in that time that... pedagogics... talking about art, talking about contemporary art is, was.. very
important for the.. for the society, so we studied in combination - artists and pedagogics.” (HC3) While
studying he started to work with a group of other students at the art-holding at the Hamburger Kunsthalle
“and we were the first group which... made guide tours through the.. collection and also through the
exhibitions, and that was very new, and that was very-very interesting.” (HC3) His parents were not
involved in the artistic practices, but his grandmother “was a very good friend of the director of the
Hamburger Kunsthalle, but it was at the end of 19 century” (HC3), and HC3 states that it was a bit easier
for him to start working at the Hamburger Kunsthalle due to this fact. HC3 explains his decision on
working with contemporary art because at the time when he was a student “ in Hamburg it was a desert.”
(HC3) After the graduation he was working for ten years as a freelance curator and Hamburg, then HC3
was invited to work in Berlin, and “after a while the Hamburgerians, the Hamburger cultural department
asked [HC3] to come back to Hamburg and to make the Kusthaus.” (HC3) Another important notion
which should be added, that HC3 thinks that he has managed to build successful curatorial career due to
the fact that he was always in touch with artists starting from his students years.
HC4 studied firstly at the Sorbonne, Paris, but in 1987 decided to change the university and
entered the university of Kiel: “there I had the wonderful situation that we had a very small institute with
only 3 professors. So, we began with round about 20 students. So, everybody knows everybody. And all
professors knows you and you have a name, you're not a number like in the big institutions in Munich for
example, or Berlin. So, this is very nice, because the education is more direct.” (HC4) She was studying
history of art, particularly concentrating on the history of photography, but also in the interdisciplinary
context: “So, finally I studied history of art, pedagogics, then ethnology, and psychology, [...] through the
ethnology I discovered photography for me.” (HC4) She mentions that there were some challenges while
studying at the university related with the social inequality: “But the people there, they are coming from
other social classes, which we are... higher than my class, you know. So, it was always a bit a conflict, you
know I wouldn't... but I was a bit an outsider, you know.” (HC4) Anyway, she graduated successfully with
a Master's degree in 2000, and was invited to work for one year in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in
Hamburg, since she had already some contacts with this institution beforehand, to analyse and to relocate
the photography collection of the museum. During this period, HC4 got to meet her future employee:
“During this time they organized an exhibition and... with many pictures of the F.C. Gundlach collection.
And that's the reason why I get in contact with F.C. Gundlach. And after that year he said to me: "Hey,
work for me" Because he had the whole collection which was in disorder, which was chaotic.” (HC4) She
also mentioned the positive recommendations from her colleagues at her first working place which
influenced the Gundlach’s decision to offer HC4 a job in the House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen.
Initially, HC4’s interest to art came out of her family surroundings which can be described as
creative: “My mom, she painted all her life. So, I grew up with the smell of paint and... to see her painting
you know, was a normal thing to see in which way she arranged a picture, in which way she use the
colors, dissent basics to the ground, you know. The details, all this.” (HC4) She even states that her
ground as a curator is based not on the history of art studies, but rather on the observations of her mother’s
working: “And I think this is the reason why I studied history of art, because this is something which is
really interesting and I feel familiar with painter, you know, it's... it's something I know. I know how to
work in. so, this was my basics, my ground. My ground was not history of art, my ground was to see my
mother painting.” (HC4)
Similarly to HC4, HC5 also has an artistic family background, but she does not feel its strong
influence on her choice of becoming a curator: “My mother was an artist, but it was so... it was so natural
that the house was full of art, it was... it's feel natural to me and wasn't something speci...special or
something. And we didn't go to museums so much. It was more like her passion. But of course I was
confronted with art very directly and in a very...yes, natural way.” (HC5) HC5 studied in Essen and
Cologne, where she chose media arts as the main focus: “I studied at an art academy, I don't have like a
typical art historian curatorial ... studies” (HC5), and this choice of academic program was grounded in
the interest to contemporary art culture. Interestingly, at first HC5 did not consider the job of a curator as
interesting for herself: “I studied with artists, but I never was interested in becoming artist myself. And
while I was studying, I recognized that I was spending much more time in visiting exhibitions when
working on my own stuff.” (HC5) That is why she started to do various internships in art galleries and
institutions, such as the Deichtorhallen, related with art management, and discovered that a job of a
curator is the most suitable for her.
It can be concluded, that curators in Hamburg have a broader educational background due to the
interdisciplinary studies. The “practical” knowledge gained from personal experience of being an artist or
studying with artists, communicating with artists directly form a valuable cultural and social capital which
becomes a basis for the curatorial practices.
2.3.3. Freelancers and employees: curators working in Hamburg
As was mentioned in paragraph 3.2.1, two curators out of five representing Hamburg currently work in the
artistic institution on a permanent positions, while the others are involved in curatorship on a freelance
basis and combine it with other activities, such as artistic production and teaching. Obviously, there are
some differences in the curatorial strategies and practices depending on the type of an occupation. The
The first group of curators is represented by HC4 working at the Deichtorhallen and HC5 working
at the Kunsthaus. Although HC4 works in the museum institution with a quite big structure, she prefers to
manage all issues related to the curatorial practices on her own. The only thing which she is not dealing
with is the communication with media, since the Deichtorhallen has a pr-department and the exhibitions
are promoted by the other colleagues. There is also the leading Deichtorhallen curator, but he is not
involved in the issues related to the F.C. Gundlach collection of contemporary photography, only HC4
works with it: “I'm responsible only for the collection and exhibitions out of the collection except some
projects.” (HC4) HC4 These other projects are normally solo shows of contemporary photographers who
are somehow connected with F.C. Gundlach. Generally, HC4 has many duties related to the organizational
work: “I'm organizing the whole collection and I'm responsible for the transport, for the insurances, for the
loans, you know, we have many loans and national loans, international loans... But I'm always have some
exhibition projects here for the Southern hall, for the big hall. And I do some publications and I'm writing
essays and so on, and so on.” (HC4) She calls herself as untypical curator, since she takes care of every
step of work with an artwork: “My work is not a typical work of a curator, because the base on which I'm
working is much more broader, you know. I registrate, I do the insurance, you know, in this and in other
houses you have many departments working on this, and for me it's very good because it's united in my
person. So all, which belongs to the collection is in my hand, is under my own control. And this is very
good, you know. But you have to be very busy.” (HC4) Moreover, she is also personally responsible for
finding an additional financial support for the art projects, apart from that one which is received by the
whole Deichtorhallen institution: “they [sponsors] give in to the whole construction of Deichtorhallen, the
Northern Hall, the Southern Hall. And we, so, it will... will put in a big pot, you know, a big daily pot. And
sometimes we find some sponsoring for single project.” (HC4) It should be also noticed that the
Deichtorhallen also receives annual financial support from the Hamburg city administration, but the
funding is rather low: “The Deichtorhallen in Hamburg GmbH, this is the name of the enterprise. They are
a daughter of the cultural ac... the minister of culture in Hamburg. So, we have yearly support in money,
but this is very low. And since 20 year the same sum. so, it begins to... It's very. it's very... it's not easy, it's
Similarly, HS5 has to deal with many issues but in a different way. She works as an art director of
the Kunsthaus, and art space organized in a form of a non-profit organization: “Actually I’m the CEO,
that's what my position is called. [...] I’m responsible for the daily business for the staff, for the budgets,
for maintaining the house for everything. And I’m also the artistic director. And of course I have to
fundraise a lot, because we have institutional funding from the Kulturbehörde [Ministry of Culture in
Hamburg].” (HC5) HC5 is also responsible for communication with artists, public, media, and local
communities. The team working in the Kunsthaus is not very big: “So there is two more people working
here in the...except me in the core team...And then there's an accountant and that's it... more or less. I mean
there's also people working in the reception. But like the core team organizing and taking care of the
program is just 3 people. And they are not all full-time employees.” (HC5) There are a project coordinator,
who is occupied with organizational issues of exhibitions, such as mantling, dismantling, and transport, a
press-officer, administrators, and an accountant in the team. Today the Kunsthaus has a transformation
period: the art program has been changed, and there many issues related to that which HS5 has to take
care of: “For the first two years, or to starting up the new program I wanted to helping up a new profile
with annual themes, that are like umbrella themes to bring diverse projects together. […] I do group shows
that are under specific theme, then I try to bring together international artists with local artists. And not
only do it when organizing shows with local artists and then with international, but to bring them together
on the level of the if the content and of the themes that are they are dealing with in their art. And I’m also
always inviting international artists to do a solo show.” (HC5) Thus, HC5 is involved in the creation,
developing, and supporting of the exhibitional program of the Kunsthaus, as well as in managing the daily
life of an artistic institution. She states that her job consists of constant mediation between and
communication with various agents in order to maintain a status of an attractive contemporary art
institution. Thus, her tasks and daily practices are not limited to the curatorship.
Another curator form my research sample, HC3, also used to work on the same position as HC5 at
the Kunsthaus. He reflects this experience as successful and good one, since the audience, the artists and
the city administration were happy with the program organized by HC3: “I have had two halls, as I said,
one hall I made a program for the hamburgian artists, especially older and younger. I concentrated myself
also on the elder artists in Hamburg, which have no chances of showing their works in Hamburg. Mm..
The elder ones. The younger have their own rooms and so on, but the older, it's not so easy. [...] And in the
other hall I made symmetric exhibitions with themes” (HC3) HC3 describes his strategy for the Kunsthaus
as going from the local scene to the international one, and he thinks that today’s Kunsthaus faces some
challenges: “It is an opposite to my program, and a lot of people are not very happy with it. [...] She tries
to bring the international scene into the local scene. That is, I think, is not an aim of the Kunsthaus.”
(HC3) Meanwhile, today HC3 continues working as a freelance curator and is involved in various local,
national and international projects. Artists and some organizations often invite him to work with them and
to prepare an exhibition. He has also curated numerous public art projects.
HC3 sees the main duty of a curator is “to bring people together and to... help them to see what the
others are doing, to organize themselves.” That is what he is actually doing: he has a huge network
consisting of artists, creative professionals, business, state administration, etc. The process of an
exhibition organization is thus starts with a concept development, and then choosing the people with
whom to collaborate among this professional network with. Although he does not have the colleagues who
help him with the organizational issues constantly, he still tends to work, for example, with one particular
designer for the catalogues and publications production. Additionally to the curatorship, HC3 does the
guided tours showing the artists studios in Hamburg or places where the contemporary art is presented.
Finally, he is also occupied with lecturing in different academic institutions in Hamburg and also abroad,
The next interviewee, HC2, an artist doing curatorship, tends to combine the artistic production
and the curatorial practices: “The last two years this comes together... At the end, I thought that this could
happen. But, in the beginning it was always... I deal my own things and I do together with others. It was
always a group. We invite artists, we show artists.” (HC2) This is also possible due to the specificity of the
artistic community FRISE which HC2 belongs to, since they have an exhibition space and artistic
residence program which allows HC2 and other FRISE members to organize exhibitions: “I am quite fixed
to this, because this artist studio, we had this artists resident studio takes a lot of time, so... it's very much
focused on this.” (HC2) HC2 mentions that the organizational issues related to the exhibitions are not
always performed in a proper way, since artists are not art managers, especially in case of promoting
events: “We improvise always. So, when we do.. PR work, when we write... press information and
proposed it, it is always like we did for the first time. That's not, that's totally not professional. So, it is
always. And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work.” (HC2) He also compares himself with
“normal’ curators: “Since I am not really professional I do not handle professionally with time. So, I
always work like I do at the first time. That means that I can't tell you that this takes two hours. But the
curator in the museum, he goes there from nine to five, and then he says "It takes two weeks to prepare
something". (HC2) This feeling of being not a professional curator could be explained by the lack of
specific skills and knowledges which other curators gain through their professional experience and
education. The artist’s cultural capital in this sense is limited, but on the other hand, a curating artist also
has a specific insider knowledge, and what is more important, social capital by having an artist’s network.
Finally, speaking about HC1 who works as a freelance curator, it should be noticed that she prefers
to work with artists-run spaces, for example, she also often organizes exhibitions in the FRISE space.
Moreover, she prefers to work with group shows: “I kind of like this interaction between the you know,
different people and how it is, works can inspire you know, each other or find you know, interesting
dialogs between, between works and artists.” (HC1) HC1 also divide the curatorial tasks on conceptual
and practical. The first group unites all the issues related with the exhibition concept development: “I
think this concept is, is the first step basically, and then it kind of depends are you working with you know,
contemporary artist... or you know, people who no longer there, which is definitely a dignance. You work
with contemporary artists then I find then it's you know, I think it's kind of important to, to convey my
idea and also to talk you know, about this idea with the people who are in this, who I ask to be in this
exhibition.” (HC1) Thу creation and developing an exhibition concept thus requires a lot of intellectual
work and communication. The practical issues include the installation processes, communication with
technicians, transporting the artworks, working with media, etc. Since HC1 has a background in
journalism, writing texts is also an important task for her as a curator. She also develops guided tours and
organizes artists’ talks.
Since she also teaches at the university, she often involves students in the
exhibitions’ preparation and conceptual development. HC1 also has to find financial support for her
projects, such as grants or funding from sponsors. It should be also mentioned that HC1 also curates artists
of projects abroad, participating, for example, in different international contemporary art events.
Summarising this paragraph, I can conclude that curators in Hamburg tend to take care of all the
issues related to the exhibition individually, but in the artistic institutions there are also other colleagues
helping with particular tasks. Interestingly, all the curators are involved in fundraising for their projects.
The main difference between curators working in the artistic institutions and freelancers is not related with
the duties which curator has to perform, but rather with the level of flexibility in their practices and
freedom of choices for the spaces and themes for their work.
2.3.4. Working with contemporary artists and art in Hamburg
Differences in strategies of communication and cooperation with artists are also found among of the
interviewees from Hamburg.
Generally, curators in Hamburg try to give an artist an opportunity to
participate in the exhibition concept creation, but the extents of artist’s “freedom” differs.
For example, HC5, who is trying to exhibit artworks of living artists, prefers to work with artists
closely: “Whenever it is possible to work together, then we develop the shows together. Especially if it's a
solo show, then there is often works being produced especially for the show works being adapted to the
space and then it's always a very close collaboration.” (HC5) According to her, such collaboration in
case of group shows also depends on the necessity to adapt works to the space. The general strategy is to
stay in close contact with an artist. HC5 also organises various types of meetings of artists with the public
in cooperation with Hamburg curatorial association “Stadtkuratorin”: “And it was like a very fast and
flexible form that gave a lot of freedom to the artists who present themselves like they wanted. But also for
the audience the chance to meet and ask questions and just to see what kind of person this artist is
because seeing the art in a white cube is completely different than seeing an artist talking about his own
HC3 also works in an intense collaboration with artists and even tries to develop the exhibition
concepts out of the communication with artists: “Before I'm starting such a program or concept, I'm
going to the artists. Into the studios, because artist have all the time, the best ideas and... special
knowledge, they are very special. So, I look to the works and I can distillate themes out of the works of the
artists. I think I was at that times. One time a week I was in an artist room and ask them, and discuss. I
formed concepts out of the studios and out of the artists programs and the ideas.” (HC3) Such strategy is
thus depends on the artist’s cultural capital presented in all three states (embodied, objectified and
institutionalised), when the artworks and aesthetic vision of an artist become a starting point for a curator.
HC2 applies the similar strategy: “Artist curators just follow the artist’s instinct. [...] If you... start
this process without.. having.. the idea that it could work, if you start with idea, with no idea, which
accept changes, then there are no problems. But that's the way you work with the artists, you do not know
them before and you start to talk with them about very simple things.” (HC2) Since he mainly curates
exhibitions of artists not leaving in Hamburg and even in Germany, there is often no certainty about what
an exhibition will look like. The first and major discussion happens when artists arrive in Hamburg when
there are not so much time left before the opening: “And then you just, then at the end we have to be very
HC1 is firstly inspired by the artworks, and then she tries to relate them to her curatorial interest,
which is now focused on the memory theme. Later on she tries to find the other artwork and artist who
may intersect with each other and to form one group show. The next step is to discuss the concept together
with artists, to exchange the ideas and to finalize the exhibition design.
Interestingly, HC4’s strategy of working with artist is based on different principles. She firstly
develops a clear exhibition concept alone: “First without the artist, because an artist he wants always to
show. You know, this is important to have first, a very concrete sketch before you present to the artist.
Because you must unite your own view with the view of the artist.” (SC4) In her practices the artworks
play the most important role, especially those which belong to the collection HC4 works with: “I'm really
emotional bond on my pictures, these are not my pictures, I'm aware of this, these are the pictures of Mr.
Gundlach. But, they are like, it's a bit like children, you know. It's a bit, I have a personal relationship to
each print.” (HC4) HC4 often deals with international loans when the artworks from collection are
travelling for temporary exhibitions in other institutions often located abroad: “ They fly to London. And
me, I'm flying with another machine, you know to London too. And then I wait it on the airport for my
crates and they transport me and the crates and my babies, to the Tate Modern. And then they are
sleeping there for 48 hours because of the climate, you know. And then they open the crates and I have my
little babies in London. And so I give it to the curator there and they will hang it on the wall, they will fix
it on the wall. I control the hanging and all this. And after this I return to Germany because there my job
is done.” (HC4) This is a very specific attitude towards the artworks, and none of the other curators out of
the research sample have mentioned it.
Another important moment in the relationship of curator, artist and artworks is finding each other.
Two curators from Hamburg establish the cooperation through personal networks, namely HC2 and HC3.
HC2 calls such a strategy “simple, old-fashioned, reference system” when the new contacts are established
through the recommendations of friends and colleagues, or through face-to-face, sometimes unplanned
meetings: “I have contacts to artist personally... and then they bring other artists. So, when I invite artist
here, mostly they are friends or colleagues, or close to other artist I already did.” (HC2) The
communication with the artists from other cities and countries is organised via the internet. Although HC2
belongs to artistic community FRISE and do the exhibitions in the community space, he normally does not
show the FRISE artists: “I do not like it. I do not like to show people from the house. Not because I do not
like them, I showed one artist here, from FRISE.. because I think.. that's like.. to show myself here, in the
Meanwhile, the other curators, HC1 and HC5, actively attend various events such as bienales or
huge exhibition projects such as Manifesta or Documenta in order to find new interesting artworks and the
artists: “It's just when I see an artist or the work, I think it's interesting for issues, that I think I interested
in these days and would make sense in accordance to our space here, then I invite them. I approach them
through the institutions, through galleries or through friends networks.” (HC5)
Since HC4 normally works with the collection, she sometimes has to add works out of it or
organize an exhibition related to the collection, then she study the artis’s profile in the internet, studies his
or her work, and after that starts working with an artist. But, normally, these are famous contemporary
photographers, or the classics of this genre.
Generally, all the curators consider the artist's’ positions and views regarding the exhibition composition.
For the majority the relationship with artists are the basis for successful exhibition. The artist thus has a
position of an expert, but not just an agent producing the symbolic meaningful forms objectified in the
2.3.5. Artistic scene in Hamburg and a role of a curator
The local artistic scene shapes the curatorial practices, as I have already demonstrated at the example of
Saint Petersburg. Hamburg artistic scene also has a specific structure which curators are included in.
First of all, it should be noticed that there is no strict division on state-funded and private artistic
institutions. Every artistic institution has an opportunity to receive financial support from Hamburg city
administration, particularly from the Hamburg Ministry of culture. But interviewees have mentioned
several difficulties related to this type of financial support of the cultural and artistic initiatives. Firstly,
since there are quite a few artistic institutions in Hamburg, and almost all of them receive some state
fundings, but in the lower amount of money, it is often impossible to work just basing on this support.
This refers especially to bigger artistic structures. Moreover, the procedure of getting money is not so easy
and involves a lot of bureaucracy which is a time-consuming process. Finally, today the city of Hamburg
has less money than it used to have, that is why the financial support has also been cut.
In such situation all the curators have to find the alternative way of financing their project, and
thus the new mediation process has been added to the curatorial practices - fundraising. Some curators
apply for grants, the others try to find sponsors among the private business structures, which is also a
complicated and time-consuming process: “Contemporary art, it's something that seems to be popular,
but still it's something, it's a niche and it's not that the sponsors are waiting to… for you, that they're
giving out lots of money because it's... because our program is not popular, and even popular
contemporary art institutions struggle to raise funding.” (HC5)
Speaking about the content of Hamburg artistic scene, curators have noticed that in comparison to
80s and 90s Hamburg artistic life has become less intense: “So, for a while this was like very-very active
and now it's maybe a little, I don't know, is it really less active I can say.” (HC1) HC3 also refers to the
80s as the “Golden age” of art in Hamburg and expresses disappointment regarding the current situation
on the artistic scene: “Today a lot of good artists with art, they went to Berlin mostly, also to Cologne,
also to Frankfurt. Generation of artists, and all these... curators and organizators, they're also intelligent
people, they're also out. Everybody is no longer here, in Hamburg, and the new generation is an event
generation.” (HC3) According to curators, such negative changes in the artistic scene are related wшер
gentrification and commercialization, since some previously interesting and active artistic spaces have lost
their locations, for example. It has also became not so easy to arrange some public art projects due to the
property rights issues.
HC1 also finds the specificity of local artistic scene as being concentrated on the internal art: “In
Hamburg the art scene is not that internationally, I find. Hamburg is always calling itself the gate to the
world. Concerning the contemporary art it doesn't apply. It's quite local and there's lots of artists that stay
here and stay here for a long time, so they are very attached to the place and also to the communities,
there's strong communities.” (HC1) It means that curators working in Hamburg have to mediate between
such community structures as well in order to become recognised, and that there might be additional
challenges in getting the public and even professional attention to the international exhibitions.
Curators working in Hamburg also faces difficulties with communicating with local media. They
feel that the contemporary art is not actually interesting for the new forms of internet media, and the
printed media are not so popular with the publics: “The press in Germany, especially in Hamburg, they do
not care about us, they look away.” (HC3) Due to this fact curators have to find new ways of attracting the
audience, to use personal networks in order to spread the information about the upcoming events. All
interviewees admitted that they see the communication and, actually, collaboration with media as
Finally, there is also a specific initiative of artists to organize “different platforms, different things”
for showing the artworks themselves: “And it is very strong. It is very interesting and also.. giving the
artists the chance to be... alive as an artist.” (HC2) This means that a role of a curator can be shared or
fully taken by the artist in a legitimate form.
Thus, curator in Hamburg is trying to overcome these challenges by establishing own personal
networks of various agents involved in. Since there are still quite a few initiatives, projects and institutions
dealing with contemporary art, the curatorial networks do not necessarily intersect. Curators in Hamburg
occupied with different forms of job (freelance, permanent, combined) have to take care of all the steps of
the exhibition or artistic project release, no matter if they are supported by the artistic institution or not.
2.4.1. Curator as a cultural intermediary in two national contexts
The definition of cultural intermediaries provided by Bourdieu covers professionals occupied with
presentation and representation functions engaged in the activities of various institutions dealing with
symbolic services and goods, as well as in the cultural production. (Bourdieu, 1984) As we can see from
the collected data, contemporary art curators correspond to this category. This can be confirmed by several
First of all, the legitimization of curator as a skilled professional is done through the educational
system. All the curators included in the sample have higher education, and some of them also have an
academic background or are currently engaged in the academy. At this point there is a difference between
the Saint Petersburg and Hamburg cases: all Russian curators have the academic background. Educational
background of Russian curators is more related to the history of art, while in case of German curator the
interdisciplinary studies can be observed in all 5 cases. This is explained by the fact that in Saint
Petersburg curatorial or art management programs have been established recently, and only the latest
generation of curators had an opportunity to study there. Moreover, three out of five Russian curators
consider a research as a basis for their curatorial practices. Meanwhile, curators from Hamburg do not
stress the necessity of academic research as being a basis for their curatorial projects, but three out of five
curators are also occupied with teaching at the universities, while in case of Saint Petersburg only one
curator is involved in this form of work. Due to the growing role of the educational function of artistic
institutions, curators from Saint Petersburg and Hamburg often participate in or organize various lectures
or workshops in order to share their knowledge and experience or to present the artist and artworks.
Another important difference of biographical trajectories of joining the curatorship in Hamburg
and Saint Petersburg is related with geography. In case of Saint Petersburg there is one dominating
tendency: curators become recognised by the professional community and occupy a stable artistic position
if they have graduated from the university in Saint Petersburg. All curators in the research sample and the
colleagues whom they have mentioned did so. It can be explained by the fact that the artistic scene in
Saint Petersburg is rather small and there is a concurrence between the curators. That is why it is
extremely important to start building a personal professional network before a curator actually becomes a
curator. The support of a legitimate institution is also highly important - the higher the status of an
academic institution which curator belongs to, the better the chances of becoming a successful curator. As
a result, after the graduation, a person already has a quite stable network of professional connections artists, colleagues, journalists, etc., with whom he or she is going to work in the recent years. Of course,
this network will be expanded, but as the interviews show, curators often cooperate with the same artists,
especially if we consider the local or Russian artists, and they tend to use similar channels of getting an
access to new artists. Such phenomena as a generation continuity in a curatorial practices of working with
the same artist whom a scientific supervisor or parents used to work with also demonstrates the artificial
narrowing of the curatorial practices. Moreover, if we take a look on the heading positions of artistic
institutions in Saint Petersburg, we will see that they are also occupied by the people from Saint
Petersburg, who have been studying and working there for a long period of time. Thus, I can conclude
that the artistic scene in St.petersburg has a very hierarchical structure, with quite fixed trajectories of
performing the curatorial work. This idea is also supported by the fact that in order to occupy a position of
an independent curator in the state-funded institution, a person has to start from the lowest position, and
only after years of working for a particular institution a new status could be achieved.
The situation is completely different in Hamburg. Curators do not necessarily graduate from the
universities there: they often study in the other cities or even countries, and then come to Hamburg for
their professional work. Furthermore, there are normally an open contest for the heading positions in the
artistic institutions, and there is also the European tendency to invite particular curators and gallerists from
the outside: “We're getting a new director for the Kunsthalle, who was coming from London and he's
German, but he's, he also worked in Amsterdam.” (HC1) Thus, curators in Hamburg are more mobile,
they are not strongly attached to particular institutions, and tend to cooperate not only with the
representatives of their personal professional network. They tend to work with different artists found
themselves through the other national and international events.
Thus, it can be concluded that in case of Saint Petersburg curator has to possess valuable cultural,
social and symbolic capital, and all of the three forms matter equally, in order to perform the curatorial
practices, while in case of Hamburg cultural capital of curators plays the most important role together with
the social capital.
The major task of a curator is to show the artworks which are the form of symbolic goods
(Bourdieu, 1984) and a produced by the artists. At this point, curators themselves describe their main task
as “being a mediator between the artist and the audience and helping to establish communication between
them.” (SC2) Here we can observe the overflow of capitals: the artwork as an objectified state of cultural
capital turns into the symbolic capital by bringing a particular meaning from an artist to the publics. Thus,
curators in Hamburg and Saint Petersburg consider the knowledge of the audience attending their
exhibitions to be important. They organise guided tours for the exhibitions, they try to follow the reviews
in the internet and to read the welcome books. Although, according to the interviews the main audience
visiting contemporary art exhibitions in both cities are the young people, students, and professional
community, Saint Petersburg curators often mention that today the public becomes more diverse. Curators
working in bigger artistic structures also say that they have regular visitors: “Every museum has its own
The collaboration with artists is also, obviously, an essential part of curatorial practices. Basing on
the interviews two extreme strategies of working with an artist can be observed. The first one is
characterised by giving an artist an opportunity to develop an exhibition concept together with a curator,
to influence the curatorial decisions. I call such a strategy a “tandem work”, when an artist participate in
almost all the stages of exhibition preparation. Such type of collaboration usually takes place in solo
shows or public art projects. If the artwork is specifically created for a particular project developed by a
curator, then a curator literally participate шт the artistic production. On contrary, the second type of the
collaboration is characterised by the leading role of a curator who requires artist to follow his or her
concept and instructions: such communication strategy is often applied in the organization of group shows
or thematic exhibitions. Interestingly, even though the both types are represented in curatorial practices in
Saint Petersburg and Hamburg, curators working in Germany tend to give more freedom to the artists.
Regarding the choice of the artworks and artists, curators from both countries admit that they have
their favourite artistic genre, form, or they a concentrated on a particular topic, and thus, they try to show
the artworks related to their professional curatorial interests. At this point curatorial job is also impossible
without an artist, artistic institution or other agent producing or owing the cultural capital in the form of
All the curators stress the importance of the artistic network which they have and which consists of
various agents who are also involved in the cultural and artistic production: “... artists. curators, writers,
academics in the cultural field, film-makers, cultural entrepreneurs, workers, creative people. But
sometimes the most interesting encounters are those people from different, from other disciplines. Because
then you learn the most and you're always... your own profession is question mostly. And this I think is the
most interesting.” (HC2) This network constitutes a social capital which can be transformed into the
cultural, when a curator by knowing an artist invites him to participate in some exhibition and gets the
artworks, to symbolic capital, when, for example, journalists and art-critics write reviews on the
exhibitions, and even into the economic capital, when the acquaintances help to find financial support and
sponsors. Curator always has to mediate between these various agents in order to be able to create an
exhibition, and thus such mediating becomes a core activity of a curator.
By applying skills, knowledge, experience and contacts, as well as a certain position in the artistic
scene, curators in Hamburg and Saint Petersburg indeed perform a role of cultural intermediaries,
although the local specificity of artistic practices and cultural production bring some differences in the
practical performance of this role in the two national contexts.
Curators being creative professionals represent a specific subgroup of this professional category which is
characterised by particular tasks and duties which may slightly differ in a concrete case depending on the
type of the institution which a curator works with. These tasks and duties are also quite similar in the both
national context, and, according to the Obrist study (2013), even worldwide, although the priorities may
differ. The last paragraph of this chapter describes the duties of a curator typical for Hamburg and
1. Developing an exhibition concept
This duty, actually the major one for each curator, sounds rather abstract and vague. In fact, this
duty involves many other tasks, such as working with collection (if curators work in the artistic
institution owing a collection), reading literature on the topic of the future project, working in the
archive, in the library. Furthermore, the process of selecting the artworks or artists for the future
exhibition is also included in the concept development process. Furthermore, curator creates the
future plan or design of an exhibition. The exhibition concept development can be implemented in
several stages, usually there are some changes even at the stage of the exhibition installation
regarding the composition of the artworks.
2. Coordinating all the actors involved in the exhibition project
This duty refers to the arranging the communication and controlling the actions of all the actors
involved in the process of exhibition organization. Since the projects are different, the tasks may
also change. Basically, the list of coordination tasks is the following:
● Working with the technicians managing the exhibition spaces;
● Working with transportation services: when the artworks have to be transferred from one
point to another;
● Working with the custom and legal services (if the artworks travels (from) abroad);
● Working with financial services or/and sponsors in order to arrange the budgeting for the
● Working with media and journals (writing texts for announcements, giving comments and
● Coordinating the work of the print office and designers of the exhibition catalogues;
● Working with the public;
● Sometimes working with city administration.
It should be added that in case of Saint Petersburg curators find it difficult to work with the city
administration and get some support, specifically for independent projects and public art events:
“Building such relationships is a separate curatorial project. The city administration is afraid that you do
something wrong. They are afraid of losing their positions” (SC5). In Hamburg, at the same time, the
most challenging is the communication with sponsors.
3. Collaboration and communication with artists
All curators mention that this duty is also the specific one and is not similar to communication
with other types of actors, since it requires special connection with the artist’s personality and
artworks. In order to stay in touch with an artist and to collaborate successfully, curators and artists
use conventions’ tools (Becker, 1976) such as having a friendship, communicating via email,
meeting at the international big artistic shows, etc.
4. Writing texts
The interviewees are also actively engaged in writing analytical texts: articles, texts for the
catalogues, etc. For SC5, for example, the writing is even associated with a job of a curator
directly: “I think that curator is a person who has read something and then writes about what he
has read. For me, first of all, curator is a person working with a word. Person, who attracts
attention to some topic” (HC1). Indeed, all curators have mentioned that they enjoy this part of
work, and that they have a filling oа satisfaction when they, for example, have a catalogue of their
exhibition printed. This could be explained by the fact that permanent exhibitions will finally be
dismantled, but the catalogue will remain as a proof of that particular curatorial moment.
Moreover, according to Bourdieu (1984), cultural intermediaries having a great cultural capital
need to be self-reflexive. That is why there is a tendency to share the ideas and experience in a
form of writing texts.
5. Practical duties
Curators are also involved in some practical and sometimes physical work, such as installation and
dismantling, buying materials and equipment, cleaning, repairing, etc. Although there are usually
workers for doing such a job, at the certain moment a curator is ready to deal with such issues
As we can see, the profession of a curator presupposes the collaboration with contiguous
professionals, and consists of multitasking duties. This also affects the private life and lifestyle of a
curator: due to constant and intense communication, curators tend not to distinguish between work and
leisure time, their friends are also members of the artistic circles: “I have always thought that it is hard to
imagine that people who work together, let's say, in some office or a bank, that they will come at Friday
evening to a bar and will discuss this bank or a company. But artistic people, they work the whole week,
they work during the weekend, and at the weekend evening they meet the same friends from artistic people
and discuss art. So it takes 100% of your time, all your life” (SC2). Only one out of 10 curators does not
mix the private life and work and explains it as a personal decision which was made in order to keep doing
curatorship well: “I'm working in a business which is frequented by people in the leisure time, you know.
When you have very good contact to all these groups, all these different groups. You are working not only
8 hours, but 16 hours, because the private life and the professional life will be mixed totally up. So you
spend much more energy in. This is good for the institution, it's good for the job, but it's not good for
yourself. Because you loose the look out of the distance of... on things, because you are the context when
you have too many contacts you are very easy to manipulate” (HC4).
Summarizing the analysis results, the research demonstrates that curatorship is a profession, which
requires constant intellectual work combined with practical duties, and mediation between numerous
actors. The empirical results confirm the argument that artistic production is impossible without
cooperation, and that art is not produced by artists only (Becker, 1982). The curators mediating between
diverse agents develop strategies and forms of collaboration based on conventions (Becker, 1982) by
operating the available social, cultural and symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 1993) mainly. The role of a
cultural intermediary in the art world becomes significant for those who are involved in the cultural
production and cultural consumption (the audience). Although the artistic practices and related processes
seem to be chaotic, nevertheless there are certain patterns that are met in different national contexts, such
as the curatorial duties and the forms of the artistic presentation (Misiano, 2014). The major differences
between curatorship in Hamburg and Saint Petersburg are found in the contemporary artistic scene
structure and specificity.
According to Bourdieu, cultural intermediaries are professionals involved in cultural production as
legitimate participants due to high level of cultural capital who mediate between different agents of the
field in order to enable and enrich creative labor (Bourdieu, 1984). My empirical materials show that
curators indeed perform as important cultural intermediaries as they possess knowledge and skills core for
the art, such as higher education and often also academic background. In Russia, education background is
not so diverse, as education in curatorship has started institutionalization relatively lately. Curators are
mastered in the history of arts, and thus they often have to compensate the lack of art management
knowledge by joining international projects, taking part in internships, or doing academic exchange
programs. Meanwhile in Hamburg curators usually have an interdisciplinary academic background.
In their work, curators communicate with colleagues within their institutions (both other curators
and representatives of other departments: financial departments, pr, technicians, legal services); peers
from other cultural institutions; art historians and critics; city administrations; businesses; audiences; and
certainly artists. Communication becomes a key function of a curator in a line with developing exhibition
or artistic project concepts. Professionals whom a curator communicate and work with also shape the
The strategies and practices of cooperation with artists are especially diverse. Here, I distinguish
between two ideal types of such cooperation: (a) tandem work (when artists are seen as equal co-creators
of exhibitions and whose freedom of artistic expression is seen as a core value); (b) domination of curators
who independently create the exhibition frame limiting the input of the participating artists and requiring
their subordination. Interestingly, some curators can switch between these two strategies based on their
goals and conditions of projects realization. Curators in Hamburg tend to choose the tandem work even in
those projects where the clear plan is required. Russian and German curators develop the conventions (the
me a n s a n d r itu a ls o f c o mmu n ic a tio n ) ( B e c k e r, 1 9 8 2 ) simila r ly.
The functions of curators are not limited to organization and communication. Instead, they create
new meanings associated with artworks by writing research-based analytical texts and giving guided tours
at the exhibitions. Thus, they explain the audiences how to interpret specific messages hidden in artworks,
influence their cultural tastes and shape the demand on the market of cultural production which endow
them with significant power in the field recognized by other actors and also confirm their status of cultural
It should be also noticed, that curators as cultural intermediaries having valuable forms of capital,
usually have an opportunity to transform, for example, social capital into cultural capital (knowing an
artist - having the artworks for an exhibition), symbolic capital into economic capital (working on an
important exhibition or in a recognised institution - getting financial support), and so on.
Furthermore, a specific feature of curatorship is a high level of self-reflexivity in the professional
community: curators sometimes engage in research of curatorial practices or strive for the accumulation
and transmission of professional experience through establishing and maintaining formal and informal
educational programs and workshops. In Russia, this trend is now more acute as the deficiency of
institutionalized professional structures is still evident. Moreover, since the academic status is required in
Russia for getting a higher position in the artistic scene, curators are usually stay involved in the research
practice after the graduation. In Hamburg the links to the academia remain mostly in the form of teaching.
The differences in the professional practices of curators are determined not so much by national or
city contexts but rather by institutional contexts in which curators work. Curators employed in public
institutions work with the collections of those institutions, are not largely involved in fundraising and
budgeting, and are not occupied in promotion, with the exception of writing texts on artworks (as there are
special departments of services aimed at that). Meanwhile, curators employed in private galleries or
working as freelancers have to actively search for artists and artworks to exhibit on the broader artistic
scene (locally, nationally and sometimes internationally) and often face the challenge of multitasking.
Still, some local differences have been discovered. For example, on the small and highly
competitive art market of St. Petersburg, the degree of curatorial networking is higher: all curators are
doomed to engage in dense personal communication with their peers and have high awareness of the
activities of the colleagues. The resulting dense network of multitasking professionals provides continuity
of curatorial traditions as younger curators often used to be students of the older ones. The large scale and
diversity of German art market makes regular and intensive communication between curators representing
different institutions unnecessary and often undesired. The character of the market also shapes the
character of cooperation with the artists: in Petersburg, curators tend to reproduce stable patterns of
cooperation with the same artists with whom they are connected by personal acquaintance. Meanwhile, in
Hamburg curators are more open to new cooperations and often establish contact through anonymized
communication with new agents of the city and broader cultural scene. This fact illustrates the artistic
practices being influenced not only by the aesthetics, but also by the market conditions (Peterson, 1976).
Interestingly, curators from Saint Petersburg and Hamburg tend to contrast the local artistic scene
not at the international levels, but on the national one - there is a clear opposition between St.Petersburg
artistic scene and Moscow, Hamburg and Berlin. Moreover, they also compare the situation on the local
artistic scene in different period of time, claiming that currently the situation is not the best in the both
cases, and being nostalgic about 80s - 90s.
The research shows that in case of Saint petersburg the further institutionalisation of the
curatorship is required. This could be achieved by the developing of new educational programs and
broadening the existing programs by the introducing an interdisciplinary approach to the curatorial
studies. As a result, the whole local artistic scene would benefit, since this could lead to the enlargement of
the local artistic network.
Since the research covers two cases, the further comparison between other cities would contribute
to the knowledge about contemporary art curators practices, and may provide additional insights on the
strategies of curators being cultural intermediaries.
Abbott, A. 1988. The system of professions: An essay on the division of expert labor. University of
Abbott, A. 1995. Things Of Boundaries. Social research, 62(4): 857-882.
Acord, S. K. (2014) Art installation as knowledge assembly: Curating contemporary art. In Tasos
Zembylas (ed.), Knowledge and Artistic Practices. London: Routledge, 151-165.
Acord, S. K. (2010). Beyond the head: The practical work of curating contemporary art.
Qualitative Sociology 33(4): 447-467.
Becker, Howard S. (1974) Art As Collective Action. American Sociological Review, 39: 767-776.
Becker, Howard S. (1982) Art Worlds. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Tanner, J. (2003) The Sociology of Art: A Reader. London: Routledge.
Becker H.S. (1976). Art Worlds and Social Types. American Behavioral Scientist, 19(6): 703-717.
Belyi, P. (2016) About LUDA. Retrieved April, 15 from: http://galleryluda.com/About-LUDA
Bourdieu, P. (1987) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard
Bourdieu, P. (1990). In other words: Essays towards a reflexive sociology. Cambridge: Polity
Bourdieu, P. & Johnson, R. (1993). The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and
Literature. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Theory and
Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood.
Bourdieu P. (1996). The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Translated by S.
Emanuel. Cambridge: Polity.
Brubaker, R. (1985). Rethinking Classical Theory: The Sociological Vision of Pierre Bourdieu.
Theory and Society, 14(6), 745-775.
Burkart G. (2006) ‘Professions and Professionalization’ in Harrington A, Marshall B.L. & Müller
H.P (eds). Encyclopedia of Social Theory. London: Routledge.
Cook, S. D. N., & Yanow, D. (1993). Culture and organizational learning. Journal of Management
Inquiry, 2: 373–390.
Creative Association TOK official webpage (2016). About TOK. Retrieved April, 16 from:
Deeth J. (2012). Engaging Strangeness in the Art Museum: An Audience Development. Strategy.
Museum and Society, 10(1): 1–14.
Deichtorhallen Hamburg official webpage (2016). Deichtorhallen Hamburg. Retrieved March 10,
2016 from: http://haus-der-photographie.de/index.php?id=33&L=1
Dimaggio, P. (1979). On Pierre Bourdieu Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. Pierre
Bourdieu, Jean-Claude, Passeron Richard, Nice; Outline of a Theory of Practice. Pierre Bourdieu, Richard
Nice. American Journal of Sociology, 84(6), 1460-1474.
DiMaggio P., Useem M. (1978) Social class and arts consumption. Theory and Society, 5(1): 141161.
Farkhatdinov, N. (2008). Sociologia iskusstva bez iskusstva. Industrialnaya metafora v
sociologicheskih issledovaniah iskusstva [Sociology of art without art. The industrial metaphor in the
sociological studies of art]. Sotsiologicheskoye Obozreniye [Russian Sociological Review], 7(3), 55–69.
Florida, R. L. (2002). The rise of the creative class: And how it's transforming work, leisure,
community and everyday life. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Florida, R. L. (2008). Who's your city?: How the creative economy is making where to live the
most important decision of your life. New York, NY: Basic Books.
FRISE official web page (2016). FRISE. Retrieved March 28, 2016 from: http://www.frise.de/
Greenberg, R., Ferguson, B. W., & Nairne, S. (1996). Thinking about exhibitions. London:
Heilbrun, J. and Gray C.M. (2001) The economics of art and culture, 2nd edition. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Kandinsky Prize (2015). Victor Misiano. Retrived February 14, 2016 from: http://www.kandinskyprize.ru/viktor-miziano/?lang=en
Kester, G.H (2013) Conversation pieces: community and communication in modern art. Berkeley,
California: University of California Press.
Kikodze, E. (2014) Is it possible to imagine a "Manifesta" in the Tretyakov Gallery? Interview
Russia. Retrieved April 19, 2016 from: http://www.interviewrussia.ru/art/olesya-turkina-razve-mozhnopredstavit-sebe-manifestu-v-tretyakovskoy-galeree
Lane J.F. (2005). When Does Art Become Art? Assessing Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Artistic
Fields. The Sociology of Art. Ways of Seeing. Ed. by D.Inglis, J.Hughson. New York: Palgrave
Macdonald, S. (1998). The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture. London: Routledge.
Maguirre, J. S., & Matthews, J. (2014). The cultural intermediaries reader. Los Angeles, CA:
Marlet, G., & Woerkens, C. V. (2005). Tolerance, aesthetics, amenities or jobs?: Dutch city
attraction to the creative class. Utrecht: Utrecht School of Economics.
Misiano, V. (2014). Five Lectures of Curatorship. Moscow: Ad Marginem Publishing.
Morin, F., Poshyananda, A., Ramírez, M.C., Turner, C., Zabel, I. and Cassel V. (2000) Beyond
Boundaries: Rethinking Contemporary Art Exhibitions, Art Journal, 59 (1): 4 - 21.
Negus, K. (2002) The Work of Cultural Intermediaries and the Enduring Distance between
Production and Consumption. Cultural Studies, 16(4): 501-515.
Obrist, H. U. (2009) A Brief History of Curating. New York: JRP|Ringier.
Obrist, H. U., & Lamm, A. E. (2011). Everything you always wanted to know about curating but
were afraid to ask. Berlin: Sternberg Press.
Official Hamburg website (2016). Hamburg at a glance. Retrived April,10 from:
Peterson R.A., Anand N. (2004). The Production of Culture Perspective. Annual Review of
Sociology, 30: 311-334.
Peterson R.A. (1976). The Production of Culture: A Prolegomenon. The American Behavioral
Scientist, 19(6): 669-684. Pilopher, E.S.B. (2014). The Curator is Present - [Ex]changing Roles of Curator
and Artist: Hans Ulrich Obrist and Marina Abramović. International Journal of Cultural and Creative
Industries, 1(3): 28 - 41.
Prior, N. (2005). A question of perception: Bourdieu, art and the postmodern. The British Journal
of Sociology, 56(1): 123 - 139.
Robinson, R. and Garnier, M. (1985) Class Reproduction Using Men and Women in France.
American Journal of Sociology, 91(2): 250-280.
Santoro M. (1976). Culture As (and After) Production. Cultural Sociology, 2(1): 7-31.
Stam, E. de Jong, J. & G. Marlet (2008). Creative Industries in the Netherlands: Structure,
Development, Innovativeness and Effects on Urban Growth, Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human
Geography, 90(2): 119-132.
Sullivan, A. 2002. ‘Bourdieu and Education: How Useful is Bourdieu’s Theory for Researchers?’
Netherlands Journal of Social Sciences, 38(2): 144-166.
Sutherland, I., & Acord, S. (2007). Thinking with art: From situated knowledge to experiential
knowing. Journal of Visual Arts Practice, 6: 125–140.
Tanner, J. (2003) The Sociology of Art: A Reader. London: Routledge.
TEDx Talks. (2011, October 09). TEDxMarrakesh - Hans Ulrich Obrist - The art of curating.
Retrieved April 11, 2016 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyIVCqf23cA
The State Hermitage Museum official website (2016). Retrieved April 16, 2016 from:
The State Russian Museum official website (2016).
Retrieved April 15, 2016 from:
Valentine, J. (2007) Political Art, Cultural Policy, and Artistic Agency, Social Analysis. The
International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice, 51(1): 96 - 111.
Walther, M. (2014). Repatriation to France and Germany: A comparative study based on
Bourdieu's theory of practice. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.
Wolff, J. (1981). The social production of art. London: MacMillan.
Yaneva, A. (2003). Chalk steps on the museum floor: The “pulses” of objects in an art installation.
Journal of Material Culture, 8: 169–188.
Yaneva, A. (2003). When a Bus Met a Museum. To Follow Artists, Curators and Workers in Art
Installation. Museum and Society, 1(3):116-131.
Thank you for willing to participate in the interview. Your
experience is very insightful and
helpful in understanding the specificity of curatorial practices. My research constitutes a comparative
perspective on curatorship in Germany and Russia illustrated by the examples of curators working in
Hamburg and St.Petersburg.
First of all, I would like to ask if you are ready to provide me with one hour interview.
I hope that you do not mind the conversation to be recorded. The information will be used only for
my research analysis. Your personal identification will remain anonymous in the written reports. If there
are any issues you would not like to be recorded, please let me know.
The interview is just a conversation, you are not supposed to give direct answers and I will be very
grateful if you could mention as many details as you feel to be relevant.
1st block: biographical trajectories
Would you please describe your educational background? Did you participate in any international
What is your parents educational and professional background?
When, why and how did you decide to become a curator?
Who or what influenced your decision on choosing this professional field?
2nd block: professional experience
Where and why do you currently work? How long have you been working here?
Could you please describe your previous professional experience?
How could you describe the differences between working as a curator in various art
institutions (private gallery, state museum, private museum)?
Have you ever worked as a freelancer? Please, describe your experience. If not, then is there is any
specific reason for that?
What are your current duties? Do they differ from previous and if yes, then could you please tell
how? Could you please describe your typical working day?
Could you please bring examples of organised exhibitions or projects?
Have you ever worked in international projects or abroad? Please, describe your experience.
3rd block: organising an exhibition
Could you please describe the process of an exhibition organisation? What stages does it have?
With whom do you collaborate/communicate/work while organizing an exhibition?
How is your working schedule changed while this process?
Could you please tell more about the aims which you try to reach by organising the exhibition?
Is it a part of your responsibilities to take care of commercial success of the exhibition? If yes, then
how do you balance between the aesthetic quality of an exhibition and commercial profit?
What type of art do you usually exhibit? Please, bring some examples. Is there any type of art or
artistic projects which are not acceptable for you? What is “good art” in your opinion? What are
your personal preferences?
4th block: Interactions with artists
Could you please describe the way you work with an artist?
How do you find each other? Do you have some regular cooperation with artists? Please, bring
Do you usually curate the exhibition or an artist in different exhibition? Do you work on joint art
exhibition? What is special about such type of project? Please, describe the way you work on such
exhibitions. How do you connect different artists participating in a joint exhibition?
How often do you usually meet while preparing the exhibition?
Which means of communication do you use to stay in touch with an artist?
How can you describe the way you communicate with an artist? Is it rather informal or formal
Are there sometimes conflict situations? If yes, then how do you deal with them?
5th block: interactions with colleagues and administration
Could you please tell with whom of your colleagues and administration of your art institution do
you communicate more often/seldom? Please, describe it.
Is there any control over you? What type of control is it?
Could you please describe the style of communication inside of your art institution?
Do the conflicts sometimes happen in the working process? How do you resolve them? Please,
bring some examples.
Do you sometimes work in cooperation with other curators? What do you prefer - to work
independently or in a team?
Do you communicate with state/city/local administration/investors? Please, describe the way you
do it. What are the benefits and challenges of it?
In your work do you also sometimes cooperate with NGOs? With which NGOs and art
foundations? Please, describe it. What are the benefits and challenges of such cooperation?
6th block: communication with the public
Do you have a target group of your exhibitions? Please, describe the audience.
How do you communicate with the public? How do you collect a feedback from the public?
Do you participate in different events such as press-conferences, lectures, debates, forums? Please,
describe your participation.
7th block: challenges
What kind of challenges do you face in your work related to the organizational process/matching,
etc.? How do you deal with them? Please, bring some examples
8th block: outside the working process
With whom do you usually communicate outside your work? Do you feel that your leasure time is
influenced by your job? How do you try to divide your private life from your work? If not, then
could you please explain, why?
Who are your friends? Are they from the same field?
9th block: evaluating curating
What do you think about curating in St.Petersburg/Hamburg? Could you tell about advantages and
disadvantages of curator job in your city?
What do you think about curating in Russia/Germany? How would you evaluate the level of
curating in your country?
What do you think about curating in Europe/World?
Could you please tell about your impression of professional community in Russia/Germany?
Could you please describe the way you see the dynamics of curator’s job? Is it changing now?
What was specific in this profession before? What are the new emerging fatures of curating?
10th block: future perspectives
How do you see your professional future?
What are your plans for the next projects?
How do you see the future of curating in your country and in general?
Example of the interview transcript (a talk with a German interviewee, done in English language)
I arranged a meeting with HC4 by phone three days before the interview. We had our conversation at her
office at Deichtorhallen, so I had a chance to see the working environment of a curator. The room is rather
big and decorated in a laconic manner, there is a huge white table, but HC4 occupies only a little piece of
it - there is a big computer, and she also has a big book-case.
From a very beginning of our meeting I had a feeling that HC4 is really glad to talk with me. First
of all, I explained the aim of my visit and briefly introduced myself. Then we started our conversation
regarding her curatorial experience. HC4 was very nice and witty in her speech, she provided me with
detailed answers. We had an hour conversation since HC4 indicated that she would have only this period
of time when we arranged a meeting.
After the interview we had a small talk on possible ways for our cooperation in the future and she
invited me to visit the exhibition the day after, which I did.
Q: First question would be about your educational background and about how did it come that you're a
A: Ok, I studied history of art, and I began in eighty...eighty-seven with it, you know. Before I was 2 years
in Paris and I studied there, you know, at the Sorbonne. So, at 87 I changed the university to Germany, to
A: Ok, and there I have the wonderful situation that we have a very small institute with only 3 professes.
So, we began with round about 20 students. So, everybody knows everybody. And all professors knows
you and you have a name, you're not a number like in the big institutions in Munich for example, or
Berlin. So, this is very nice, because the education is more direct. And finally, you will learn more in
Ye s ,
A: And you have better orientation concerning the whole...concerning the whole studies you know. And
there I found out for me that history of art is... is the thing I would like to do. I was convinced of it. But
the people there, they are coming from other social classes, which we are... higher than my class, you
know. So, it was always a bit a conflict, you know I wouldn't... but I was a bit an outsider, you know. I was
a bit... an outstanding person because of my biography and because of my experiences of life. So, it was
not so easy to be integrated in this institution. From the professors, they excepted me, all of, you know.
But these people there...were 90%, over 90% were women from higher classes. It was a bit... you know, I
didn't felt [sovuid] 2:20 there. And so I used the possibilities to have more contacts to other studies you
know. So, finally I studied history of art, pedagogics, then ethnology, and psychologic...oh, psychology,
sorry. And so, I was, I opened my view for an interdisciplinary study. And this was very good, because
through the ethnology I discovered photography for me. And then I advanced and decided to concentrate
on history of photography and to use it for my studies history of art. And I found the Swedish professor,
who accepted this, you know because this is not something of the classical themes, of the classical subject
of history of art. That is architectures, sculpture, paintings, but not photography. Photography was... you
know, it was not so nice for the [colluseir]3:34 What she's doing? Oh, she's about you know... she's
concerned with photography. Oh, she's not a good... you know, something like this, because it's not
classical. And so, I thought... I fight into that, you know. And my subject to write was about studio in
Vienna, and ancient studio in Vienna, so the development of this studio... between 1907 and 1938, at the
beginning of the second World War, and in this time I analyzed the pictures and how they did the
marketing and which consumers they had and so on. And the relationships between customers and the
composition of the photographs and so on... all this, all this. And this was a very modern theme, modern
subject in history of art. So, it was highly accepted by my father, by my doctor father. We say, in Germany
we say doctor father, Doctor Fater, the father of the dissertation.
A: And then I finished master dis in 2000 and... very good. And then a private col... and then I start to
work in the museum of arts and crafts here in Hamburg, it's over there
Ye s ,
A: And the photographic collection and you know what is interesting is the pictures I analyzed belong...
belonged to the collection and the museum of arts and crafts. so I have some contacts before with the...
with the collection there. And so they picked me up for one year and I did...what is it in English, I don't
know the word. You know, we moved the whole collection from the second floor to the second...sub-floor,
A: Yes, and I did my job, you know. And so, during this time they organize an exhibition and... with many
pictures of the F.C. Gundlach collection. And that's the reason why I get in contact with F.C. Gundlach.
And after that year he said to me: "Hey, work for me" Because he had the whole collection which was in
disorder, which was chaotic. And he knew from my colleagues in the museum she's nice, she's social, you
know, she's busy and she can do it. And so, i get a new job there and I stayed there for 5 years and in these
years he realized his plans to give a part of his collection away to public institution, so here, you know, to
the Deichtorhallen and he gave me away with this part of the collection. And so I get a job here.
Ye s ,
A: And now, you know i'm organizing the whole collection and I'm responsible for the transport, for the
insurances, for the loans, you know, we have many loans and national loans, international loans... But I'm
always have some exhibition projects here for the Southern hall, for the big hall. And I do some
publications and i'm writing essays and so on, and so on. You know, this is work... my work is not a
typical work of a curator, because the base on which I'm working is much more broader, you know. I
registrate, I do the insurance, you know, all this and in other houses you have many departments working
on this and for me it's very good because it's united in my person. So all, which belongs to the collection is
in my hand, is under my own control. And this is very good, you know. But you have to be very busy.
Q: Of course, but do you also have colleagues, who help you with that?
A: Yes, it's only me who do it and I have a colleague. this is Ingo Taubhorn and he is the main curator you
know. And me, I'm responsible only for the collection and exhibitions out of the collection except some
projects. For example, in the last year I had the big Phillip Tolidano show, this is in the frame you know,
of another event here in Hamburg who's invite...no, invented by F.C. Gundlach in the middle of the 90-s.
It's the triangle of photography here in Hamburg. And so, I showed 2 shows, 2 exhibitions Phil Toledano
and collection. a smaller one with pictures from the F.C. Gundlach collection.
Q: Ok, and you mentioned all this work with insurances and other so to say inside stuff, but do you also
work with media, with public somehow, or there are other people who do that?
Q: Ok. And if we come back to your background, did your parents have some relations to artistic field or
A: My dad not. My dad he was not able to read, nor to write. He was a boxer, it's strange biography, you
know, it's a bit strange. And he worked in a... what is it... It's a shop for wood, but in a big space, in the
harbor, you know. And my mom, she came from another social class. And she painted all her life. So, i
grew up with the smell of paint and... to see her painting you know, was a normal thing to see in which
way she arranged a picture, in which way she use the colors, dissent basics to the ground, you know. The
details, all this. And it was very interesting because on the 70-s, I'm born in 66, in the 70-s they are
divorced, my parents. And in the 70-s she begin... she began to paint from new, and very detailed
photorealistic studies, you know. And then, in the 80-s she began to use huge canvas with oil, you know,
and she worked more free with forms, with space. And now at the end of her life she's re... she returned to
this micro you know, photorealistic studies, you know. This was very interesting for me as a child to see...
to see. you know. To observe it, how she's doing it. And I think this is the reason why I studied history of
art, because this is something which is really interesting and I feel familiar with painter, you know, it's...
it's something I know. I know how to work in. so, this was my basics, my ground. My ground was not
history of art, my ground was to see my mother painting. And it is for me... You know, I never begin... I...
I painted as a child, you know, but later on...you know, it... She did it in a way which was not reachable for
A: So, it was me who observed her, you know. Observing this painter and this moving of style and... this
was interesting, this was highly interesting. I was sitting in the evening you know, and she was painting. I
was sitting there and only watching. It's like wathing TV for me, you know/ But we... we had no
t...television, you know, sitting there and looking, and observing and... ah, and now it will become more
deep and because of the colors and you know, the lines and how she arrange it, this very big formats you
know, 3 or 4 meters, you know, Ah, and then she's making line like this and this give a flow and
movement, you know. And this was very interesting for me. And the photography work like this. So, it is
very easy, you know, you have the ground in yourself because you view how to arrange a picture and
painture. And so, this is clear for you. So, I would like to work in another media and photography always
has to deal with biography, with remembrance and so on. And it is psyco...psydo...sorry, psydorealistic.
This is not reality, it's a form of inscenated reality. Every picture, every photo. It's not true, it's not reality,
it's... it's only a little, small view on the world, which is interpreted by the camera and by the
Ye s ,
A: And that was so nice for me. And this technical aspects. I love all these old techniques from 19th
century to realize photography you know. And all these cameras and these optics, you know, these
d i f f e r e n t l e n s e s a n d . . . y o u k n o w, i ' m r e a l l y i n t h i s . . . i t ' s m y w o r l d .
Ye s ,
A: No, never ever. Never ever, you know... Yes, when I was 16 or 18, you know, I had a camera and I did
it. And I did it once more during my studies, but only to document things. [phone ringing]Sorry, I...
Q: Yes, of course...And does it mean that also the surroundings of your mother was artistic so to say? Did
A: No, there were some artists you know, my mother, she had a friend who was a singer in the opera. He's
coming from New Zealand, you know, a very strange person, you know, and an artist. And... but...or
people who are rare interested in art, but she never... she did it only for herself, she was not ambition to
show it to everyone. It's something to express herself and to consulate herself, you know, when she was
A: Or to... you know, this was interesting for her, this aspect. Not to show everybody this, or to have a big
show, or to have an exhibition. Because she... you know, she had a normal job. She was sewing clothes.
And after that she was working for the Bundeswer, for the army, you know, to get some better money
A: You have very poor, when you decide to sew pe... to sew clothes for other people.
A: No, I grew up in a little small village, and it's not a village, it's a small town, you know. And so, we
were, you know, in a kind of way we were outstanding persons because you know, my mom, she divorced
in 69, when I was 2,5 years old, and at the same time in Berley... in Berlin we have a commune einz,
communa einz. This was a place houses, where many people lived together and had... they were very
liberal, very free, they had sex together and all this, you know. They all tried to...tried to live in another
world, like the usual public, you know, but my mom was a bit like this, but it was not possible to live in
another way like the people of the small town. Because they make like this, you know, they show, their
point with the finger on you and that [sounds imitating shooting], you know, and she was living alone
with, as woman with a small girl, you know, this was an outstanding social situation, you know.
Q: Interesting... And now if we come back to your current position and current life in Hamburg...
Ye a h ,
Q: ...do you communicate a lot with this artistic groups or, i don't know, artistic community in Hamburg?
A: Mm, I'm not so familiar with them, because you know, something have, must be clear. Now here i'm
working in a business, which is, which is frequented by people in the leisure time, you know. When you
have very good contact to all these groups, all these different groups, you know. You are working not only
8 hours, but 16 hours, because the private life and the professional life will be mixed totally up, you know.
So you spend much more energy in. This is good for the institution, it's good for the job, but it's not good
for yourself. Because you loose the look out of the distance of... on things, because you are the context
when you have too many contacts you are very easy to manipulate
A: You know, so and this is for me, this is not good, it's not a personal decision, it's a decision for my job,
you know. So... it is better to have contacts to know what is... what's up. But... this is good, but I prefer to
have... you know, this perspective like a child on art to ... to enjoy how art is working, or how pictures
are... moving me, you know, it's... so, it's always better to have a bit of distance to discover things from
new, you know. This is better as to be involved. Many people are involved in this scene, you know. They
know all artists and you know, they... they are... they are giving all her energy, spending all her energy that
A: But I think, they will loose a bit the view for the things which are really essential, you know. So, it's...
for me it's better to to have always and to be sure to have always a bit distance. This is good because... I
better can think about things you know. So, this is the reason for example, why I don't live in Hamburg,
I'm living in Kiel, you know. So each day I take the train from Kiel to Hamburg and from Hamburg to
Kiel in the evening. But this is good to have this distance, to be oppossie, to be, you know, to have this
immense water and so you can think more clear. This is, this is... very important for me.
Q: Yes, that's really interesting position because normally people really just mix everything...
A: No. no, I can't, I need a structure, I need a really clear structure to...It's a ... You know, many
people...need to be loved by her profession, by their profession you know. They want it to be loved by
artist fire21:08 the space of people, but it's... it's dangerous because it's superficial, you know.
Ye a h
A: So, true friendship or true relationships you better find outside this circle of persons, you know. It's
valid, it’s valid, it's valid, it's my experience, it's my personal experience. Maybe other people ca...have
another structure than me, you know. And they can really good div... deicide you know between this and
this. But... work has to do with yourself and so, you have to plan your work and to structure yourself,
because pictures are not structured, you know. And on every day you see... maybe on this day when the
sun comes in the special angle, you discover a new thing, a new aspect in a photography. Or the next day
when the weather changed or... your constitution changed. The shadows are more... you know, important
for the picture, or something like this, you know. So, this I want to see. And I want to live it. So, the
persons are not so... they... I'm not so good with... I'm not so good with all these persons who wants to
manipulate me because I'm a curator, and they want a finally they want have an exhibition, you know.
You must decide and you must differentiate, you know. This is, this is not always easy, so for me you
Q: And if we come back to your curatorial practices, could you please describe how do you work on an
A: On an exhibition, yes. So, first is the idea, it's a rough sketch of an idea, you know. For exa... for
example now I'm... You never know, this is, it's a rough idea and you never know in which way a project
will develop. So, it's a question of time and it's a question of the intensity of working with pictures for me.
For example, last year I had a artist Phillip Toledano and my... you know, we have different projects, for
A: It's a... I did this project totally alone, it was a monographic project and I did the biggest exhibition
with these artists they have here ever had. You know, he's an icon of American photography, and here in
Germany in this hall I did the biggest exhibition he ever had. And this is a project which was very hard
and I did a very big publication and I have to cooperate with the astride of Harry Callahan and this is Peter
McGeel in New York, it's a big gallerist is very-very important. And it was very difficult and tricky
project, but I succeed in. But you as you know, I spend 2.5 years in this project
A: you know, all these pictures coming from the collection and I get some loans from New York, it was
very complicated because the gallery, the estate will control every single step you do, you know the
publication, the text, the flow of the pictures in the catalogue, all this. This was not easy and I did it. and...
but we have other projects too, for example last year and in summer we had this Phillip Toledano show
and for the Tolidano show we don't have Toledano in the collection. And so, my boss, he was so convinced
from 2 pictures of Toledano, so he said to me "Sabine, [claps] you do it, realize this project for the
triangular" you know, this was a project... this project nothing has to do with our collection, but he said
hey, you will realize this. Ok, so I had a look in the internet and I'm searching the web-site of the artist,
and it was a completely heterogene character of material, you know. And... you know, and it... need some
time and for thinking about these series he present in the internet. Some I found really disgusting, you
know. So, it needs time to arrange a concept for this. You know, first without the artist, because an artist he
wants always to show. You know, this is important to have first, a very concrete sketch before you present
to the artist. Because you know, you must unite your own view with the view of the artist, you know. This
is very difficult, this is... He's a vivid artist, he's living in New York, so. This is another situation as to
work with an artist who's that since 15 years and he has an estate. This is an other situation, you know. So
every project is new. And finally I did a... I think it's a good exhibition. And we will show it next week in
Dresden, you know. That's so a bit under pressure, but... So, live... working with a living artist is another
thing, you know. So, all these projects are new projects. You never can say Oh, I know... you know, all
these things are having, having , have a new development in themselves as single project, you know. So...
It can work good, you can work good sometimes, sometimes not, sometimes there were mountains of
d iff ic u ltie s y o u h a v e to s o lv e , y o u k n o w. Th is is , it' s n o r eas y
Q: Yes, and what would you say is the most challenging in the job of curator in your case?
A: In my case it's con... no, it's it's depend on the project itself
Ye s ,
A: Hmm... For example, one thing for me, which made me very frightened was the fact I for the Callahan
project I wrote a text, and I added some new scientific things concerning the production of the colored
Callahan pictures in the 70-s up to the 90-s. And so, I did some interviews in New York and here in
Hamburg, because Gundlach he produced some pictures of Callahan in a Deichtorhallen process. And so,
I wrote a text, very long text, and then I had to send it to the estate and to wait for the ok of the estate. But
the estate, he's not concerned with all this informations I had, with all this new informations. And so the
estate decided to give the text away to another American hist... to another American curator to control it.
Something like this, that makes you frighten, you know, because... But I managed it in a very good way
and so I can go through with my text. I had the ok for my text. But this is something which makes you
frighten, because... you spend when you... writing it's something like painting, you know, you're, you have
an idea and so you work on every sentence, on every you know, it's like a composition, you know. And
when you're finished, you really [a loud sound of out-breath]
A: You loose energy and kilos and all this, really. And then comes the control [said in a deep voice] you
know. And this is, these are situation... situations which are not very nice. It's not very funny, you know.
Q: And probably it often happens that other institutions ask some works from your collection?
Ye s ,
do you control somehow the way they will be presented?
Ye s ,
A: Amm, for example, we... some years ago I, we, we had a... we had some loans for Madrid, for Picasso
show, and we had some loans for example, few years ago for the Tate Modern, and these are curators I
didn't know. And the Tate Model it was [the name]30:53 , she's a colleague, a German colleague. And so
they... You prepare the loan and you work together with an enterprise, with a transport company and you
will construct some crates and all this and you do... you do control every little thing, every detail, you
know the package, packaging and the crates and... So they transport it and you accompanied to the airport
and all this, I do it, not every curator do it. I'm very you know, I... I've, I'm really emotional bond on my
pictures, these are not my pictures, I'm aware of this, these are the pictures of Mr. Gundlach, you know.
But you know, they are like, it's a bit like children, you know. It's a bit, you have a personal me, I have a
personal relationship to each print. So, I'm very careful with them and so they put it in the... the flight to
and the airplane and they fly to London. And me, I'm flying with another machine, you know to London
too. and then I wait it on the airport for my crates ant they transport me and the crates and my babies, you
know to the Tate Modern. and then they are sleeping there for 48 hours because of the climate, you know.
And then they open the crates and I have my little babies in London. And so I give it to the curator there
and they will hang it on the wall, they will fix it on the wall. I control the hanging and all this. And after
A: you know, maybe I... when it is, when they are good in time maybe I can be at the opening of the
exhibition. But for me it is more important to know that my babies are hanging at the wall and all is well.
Q: And then, when they are transported back, do you also come for them?
A: Sometimes, sometimes. In most of the cases it's like that that I'm not there, but I have to trust in my
colleagues. And this is the reason why we are working always with reservation, you know, with people
who do a protocol, you know, a writing protocol of each of the pictures with the damages and all this.
They note, they used to note the damages and all these little scratches and all this. And so I have the
control in written, you know. Because it's not possible of ... cause of the lack of money of institutions to
transport in every case the curator from Hamburg to London, to Madrid, to you know, other places.
Q: And do you... with which countries or which, with which art institutions do you have like a constant
cooperation that you often exchange the works, or it doesn't happen so?
Q: And when you are preparing an exhibition here, do you, are you inspired from the collection itself or...
Q: Ok, so it's mostly coming is........ 34:24 in the collection
Ye s ,
Q: And can you shortly describe the collection itself? If it's possible
A: This is a... yes. Mr Gundlach he himself he was a fashion photographer. And we have fashion, but we
have portrait, we have everything. It's you know, the... thr whole collection is created under its choose,
chosen under the motto, and the motto, you know, on the main subject. And this is "the picture of the
human being" you know, so we... this is a subject which is very wide, but landscape for it... is excluded.
so, we have all. We really have all, we have naked people, we have fashion, we have portraiture, we have
street photography, we have single convolutes of 35:29 photographers. you know, it's, it depends.
Q: And do you have your favorite so to say, or it doesn't happen so that there is one favorite photographer?
A: No. no. No, because you know, this depends with my daily mood, you know. So, for example it's a bit...
it's a bit crazy what I say now. For today my plan you know... Every day I do list what I have to do, what I
have to think about. And on my list you find the point the conception of line. So, do a c... an exhibition
concerning the conception of line. But today it's not a good day because I'm not very clear today
Ye s ,
A: You know, so don't will have to do with pictures today, because i... I can't feel today pictures. But I
will, today I will think about conception of line, on this title and i will think about the line itself. What
does it mean - line, what I mean, what do I mean with conception of line, what is it for me. And to think
about these things is the base to find the photographs for it, you know, out of this collection. So, you know
maybe I will. I will begin to, to decide, to paint some lines and, on papers, you know. To... You know, it's
a.. It's also my work today. you know, it's not with pictures, it's not with people, it's only line. What does it
mean? Line can separate, line can divide things, line is dividing a ground... Line could be nice as only a
line can be. You know, the line which is like this has another character... characteristic as like this. For
example, lines are vertical lines and horizontal lines make a picture very stable with... very calm. Another
lines, you know like this make it dynamic, you know. Some things like this I would like to think about this
today. And a write it down, you know, so my idea becomes to give a form, to give an expression to my
idea. And tomorrow maybe I can... I will sleep the night, you know and in the night, you know I'm
dreaming about the line and then tomorrow, maybe tomorrow I say Hey! [snaps figures] This picture! This
is good. And also I will search for this picture and I will look what have I... what I have from the same
artist maybe, or do I have another picture with line which is so striking for me, you know. Something like
this. I can't... I can't say it now, you know. It must develop itself a bit. you know, it depends.
Q: Of course. And what are your plans for the future, let's say, are you planning to stay here and to work
A: Oh, I'm a very stable person, you know... I would like to stay here, because the climate is good you
know, I've got nice colleagues and... the collection is here. I'm part of the collection, you know. And it's a
bit... I'm a part of, I'm very bound on this photographies. And I'm bound of Gundlach, if course on
Gundlach, you know. And this is a relationship which developed very slow, and now he trusts in me, you
know, this old man, he's a , he has this... he was celebrate his 90th birthday this year, you know. It's
incredible. And he's trusting in me, so I will stay here with this collection, I would like to do that. And my
plans are to present... not only the big ones, the big names. But I would like to surprise the people not with
names, but with pictures and with constellation of pictures to each other, you know, the relationships you
can build. It's, this is very nice and so you can present jewels. But on the first view you don't know, maybe
you don't know the photographer or also picture he found on the flee-market or something. And this
picture, he can make in important, because picture is a picture is a picture is a picture. And it's not so
important who's the artist. Picture you can make an art... a picture from an artist which is... with really
famous. You can't make it very small in an exhibition. And the contradiction is that you can make a
picture, a picture who's weather other is totally unknown, a small blon, you know, like this, he can make
it important like this, you know. Only because you arrange it in special surrounding. And to make some
relationships nobody recognize just now, you know. And this is a never-ending story, you know.
Q: And do you somehow follow or just interested in the public reaction? And maybe is there is a constant
public, group of people, who usually come to new openings and... Is it important?
A : Ye s . y o u k n o w, b e c a u s e
every museum has its own fans, you know
Ye s ,
A: And people are coming and... but you know, I'm not so much in contact with visitors. you know, I'm
nor so, you know I do my work here and... If they like it, I feel very good, you know. Sometimes I do
some public what is it... you know, a go with people through my exhibition and explain why I like a line
or a shadow, you know, or an artist, or a color. And they like it, they like the way i explain and... And they
like the way how I work. And this is something I enjoy really. To get in contact with these unknown
people, you know. And this i really enjoy, but you can't do it every week, because they will, they don't will
c om e a ft e r 3 or 4 w e e ks . S o i t m us t be a l w a ys a l i t t l e hi ghl i ght , you know.
Q: And do you do these guided tour so to say every project you have here or...
Ye s ,
Q: Ok. And the group of the last questions will be related to your vision of German artistic scene and
probably the Hamburg scene. Do you find something special about doing art, presenting art here? It's a
A: This is not easy to answer on this question, because... you know, we have a... we have 2 schools here
and it's not easy to answer, i can't.... you know, it's a... It's not good, because every artist is a special one
and has a special view on things. And has it's personal possibilities to explain it, to express it, to express
himself. So, it is not good to mix up all artists in Hamburg to one big body, you know. So, you know, this
is something... History of art is always dealing with thing that you, that they would like ti embed, one
artist in a chorus of artists. This has not to do with the artist. It has to do with a... what is a... legitimation,
Ye a h
A: of the history of art itself, you know. And for me it is very dangerous to compare one artist with
another one. Because this is a kind of violence, you know because the single artist, when you do that, you
rope, you know the single artist the possibility to be present in full of his spirit in all his possibilities he
has. So, it's better not to answer on this question, because I would like to, I would like to give every artist
the right to be an artist with all his crazy ideas or tried, or successes, or not successes, you know. This
picture is very interesting, which has no success bec... why a picture has no success, you know. These are
the interesting picture... interesting pictures, you know. This is something which make it interesting to be,
Q: And if we speak about public in general. people living in Hamburg. Since there are really a lot of
opportunity to go to different galleries, openings, do they still feel how to say... Isn't it too much for them?
A: I don't know, I don't... Yes, yes yes, they have, they have. You know, it's a... the big group of people
coming as visitors. They come from as tourists, they come as photo specialists, they come because they're
young and want to be a part of a scene. you know, something like this. So they are very different, and the
different institutions and the different galleries, the different, you know, maybe they know an artist and
they go to him because aaaa, he's that.... you know, something like this. There are so much different
reasons to go on an event, on an artistic event, like the public itself, like the people themselves, you know.
So, this is, this is not enough for them, you know. They can decide to go there, or to goo there and... I
think this is, this is... It's very nice ti have a big offer of different possibilities.
Q: And do you feel the difference of perception by the public of work of, from your collections in other
A: Yes, of course. It is different, yes, Because you know, through the loans, you know, we're only part of
another body of ideas, you know. And so, it's... so... the Tate Modern has other visitors as ours you know.
The English people have another view on... because the culture you know. We have Europe, you know I
think for example, you come from Russia, so the Russian and the German cultures very similar, it's very
similar. That's the reason why, for example, in Kiel they are studying so many Russian people at the
academy of art, you know. This is quite similar, you know really. And you can feel it, you know. Because
the culture is similar, so we have, we are in a good contact. This is possible when I speak with somebody
from Italy, it's more different, the distance is broader, you know, than to Russian people. It's like it is, it's
like that for me, you know. It's a personal feeling. And so, the culture itself doesn't exist. You have a
culture from each land, or each region of a country, you know. The culture in the south of Germany is
another one as in the north, you know. Or the culture in the Ukraine is another one as in Vladivostok, you
know, something like this or, you know. So, this is very different and different is too, the culture between
Italy and Germany, for example. Italians they, they have another... life, you know. Life is
develong...delev...developing in another way in Italy as in Germany. So the people have other structures,
other relationships. you know. More intensive, more intensive maybe in a familiar sense, in the family.
Here it is another culture concerning the fam... You know, the social background is very different and
culture has to do with social background. So, it's it's found on the social background. So, this is very
interesting. The countries along... they are neighbors of the culture. Is so damn different. For example,
A: No. You know, few years ago we had an exhibition, that's not true what I said. Few years ago we had
an exhibition in the Moscow house of photography, a big one with 400 pictures or something, you know.
And I did the loan together with the foundation of F.C. Gundlach. And... But I wasn't there, my colleagues
Q : O k , a n d w o u l d y o u l i k e t o w o r k w i t h s o m e R u s s i a n c o l l e a g u e s o r. . .
A: Yes, I would li, I would like, yes, of course! you know, it's a... For me, I'm not so... It's a bit... It's not so
nice what I'm saying now. I would like... It's better to work with people from Poland or Russia maybe as
A: Because they are more... you know they can tricky too, can be tricky too, but finally I trust more in
them. Because I fee more... I find... It's something I ca... you know, I'm not able to speak Russian or
polish, but the feeling is a better one. Can you understand this?
A: It's not easy to express, you know, the feeling. it's more...it's here, it's near, it's some you know, they are
more to touch. These American a so concentrated on the business, money, money, money, money and to
control, control. And in... this is i think, i guess, we're... the Baltic lands and the Baltic countries, they are
more concentrated on... on the content of pictures. This is something which is very interesting. Now you
know, there are some people, Russian for example, they're very American, you know. And this I don't...
They are tricky, you know, because they always have a new goal on money. But few years ago, few years
ago I was in Hague for example, and I don't speak the language. But I have there a wonderful meeting in
the museum of arts and crafts in Prague. And... i didn't understand the one word, but it was not necessary,
because the curator and me, we saw each other and decided ok, we can play together. Like in the
kindergarten, you know. And ha showed me some pictures and I said Hey, the line here and over there and
have a look and did you see...[in a high and childish voice] So, over the picture it was something possible,
which is not possible to construct. I see this and he's all this, you know. So we had an exchange in very
bad English, you know, something like this. But it doesn't matter, because we were very close together
without very good communication, but only about these pictures. And I could feel what he's feeling and
you know, something like this. it's great. So you, you don't need always this communication you know,
these words and all this,
y o u k n o w. A n d t h i s i s n i c e , i t ' s n i c e e x p e r i e n c e .
Q: and the very last question, you mentioned the commercial side, for example as Americans have. but
A: Yes, of course. Every single project, I have to calculate them very carefully, all the transports, the
framing, the insurances, the restorated, the costs for the hanging,
you know. All this and I'm very
concerned with that, you know. This is the part of my daily life. It's not very nice, because you always,
they always want to say Why? This is normal, you know. It's normal in this business. that things can be
Q: Yes. And do you also have to work with some partners who are supporting the project?
A: Yes, yes. we have some partners, but they, in general they do not support a single project, but the whole
House, you know. So, you have spo... you have a sponsoring. It's very difficult to get some money, it's
very difficult. So, they give in to the whole construction of Deichtorhallen, the Northern Hall, the
Southern Hall. And we, so, it will... will put in a big pot, you know, a big daily pot. And sometimes we
find some sponsoring for single project,
y o u k n o w. I t d e p e n d s .
Q: and do you search yourself for this sponsors for project or not?
Ye s .
Q: Ok. And since your organization is big, do you also get some support from the city administration?
A: Yes, yes. This is... they are, you know, the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg GmbH, this is the name of the
enterprise. They are a daughter of the cultural ac... the minister of culture in Hamburg. So, we have yearly
support in money, but this is very low. And since 20 year the same sum. so, it begins to... It's very. it's
Example of the interview transcript (a talk with a Russian interviewee, done in Russian language)
We met with SC1 in the city centre, at a nice cafe which she has chosen. We agreed to have a one hour
conversation. Although it was a bit noisy and crowded there, we had a rather relaxed talk. SC1 was willing
to answer my questions directly. The practical examples of curatorial practices given by SC2 were very
В: Первый блок вопросов будет касаться ваших биографических, скажем, биографического пути к
О: Я окончила университет. исторический факультет, кафедра история искусства. Собственно, я как
бы как куратор никогда себя не мыслила, в первую очередь человек историк искусства. Потом
попала, не сразу, в Эрмитаж и в общем последние 9 лет работаю в Эрмитаже.
В: А расскажите подробнее какая у Вас была специфика специализации во время обучения
О: В университете я занималась древнерусской архитектурой, но в дальнейшем, поскольку я
работала в музее истории города сначала, там была коллекция, связанная с современной, ну с 20-м
веком, потом я занималась так же дизайном и современными галереями и в общем 20-м веком
пришлось заниматься, и в Эрмитаже тоже мне предложили заниматься именно архитектурной
программой, поэтому вот так получилось в общем, что 20-й век стал сферой научных интересов.
В: А расскажите, у Вас кто-то может быть в семье или как-то друзья, окружение были связаны в
О: Нет, никогда. У меня естественно-научная семья, все биологи, экономисты. Гуманитариев не
О: Ну просто мне всегда нравилась история, но именно исторические кафедры мне показались
скучноватыми, искусствоведение как более такое мобильное, разнообразное поле для
исследования. Мне когда я поступала показалось более интересным, поэтому выбрала такую
В: Хорошо. А расскажите тогда немножко о том, как Вы установились как куратор. То есть, где Вы
О: Ну сначала я работала в музее истории города, там тоже был выставочный отдел, там готовились
выставки. Ну я сначала не как самостоятельно, конечно, куратором выступала, а как помощник. Но
опять же нас куратор, в общем, это такое немножко новое понятие, относительно. Во всяком случае
когда я работала в музее истории города оно не ассоциировалось с каким-то образом, профессией.
То есть она номинально звучала куратор, но это вообще был человек, который готовит выставку,
разрабатывает вытав... не концепцию тогда говорили, а тематико-экспозиционный план. То есть
тако... такие достаточно в консервативных категориях все это мыслилось. В Эрмитаже стало все,
поскольку это уже более 2000-е годы, там все уже было более актуально, ну и отдел тоже
современный, отдел современного искусства. И здесь конечно уже куратор, в это понятие
вкладывали смысл современный, актуальный. Но и собственно работа научного сотрудника в
Эрмитаже, она состоит из двух вещей: хранить вещи и показывать их. Хранение, соответственно,
это отдельная история, а показывать вещи это значит готовить выставку. В общем-то от кураторства
В: А расскажите какие Вы по началу делали проекты, что это были за выставки?
О: Ну я по сути, я помогала только на одном проекте, уже второй проект, там была выставка такая
Мелояс про америк... про английских художников из галереи Сааче. Но доволь... довольно быстро
все-таки второй проект это уже мой был личный кураторский проект, это была выставка Сантьяго
Калатравы. И с этого собственно началась архитектурная программа. Просто мне как-то сразу
хотелось выделить поле моё личное
профессионального интереса, и как-то сразу это стала
архитектура, и с момента выставки Калатравы мы уже целенаправленно разрабатывали именно
програм м у архитектурную, потому что на много лет вперед план выст авок...
В: А изначально, ранее у Эрмитажа была со ставленная программа, или это...
Н е т,
н е т,
н е т.
О: По сути Сантьяго Калатрава стал первой такой большой выставкой серьезной, историей именно
школ 20-го века мы занялись именно только в рамках этой программы новой, это в общем такой не
В: А скажите как формируется программа, Вы сказали что уже на несколько лет вперед она была
О: Ну здесь много факторов. Во-первых фактор личного научного ис... исследования, потому что
мн... все-таки я выбираю те, те страны, те направления, которые я хорошо знаю, потому что мы не
только должны показать, мы должны еще и рассказать, предоставить какую-то версию,
предоставить какое-то научное исследование, потому что Эрмитаж это очень серьезная институция
и мы очень отве... большую ответственность несем за то, что показываем. Соответственно, за
уровень публикации мы тоже несем ответственность. Поэтому с одной стороны выбирается та
тема, в которой там я хорошо ориентируюсь, с другой стороны очень много зависит от коллекции,
потому что когда речь идет именно о таких более исторических выставках, когда мы рассказываем
историю каких- то школ и направлений, то мы должны понимать, что у нас есть материал, который
можно показать. То есть бывает так, что тема интересная, но очень трудно собрать по архивам
разрозненным материалы. При этом бывают очень хорошо организованные коллекции. Здесь еще
зависит от того, с какой коллекцией, с каким собранием... можно наладить работу. Вот. Каки...
Иногда какие-то проекты приходят со стороны, мы их рассматриваем. Мы за все, за ве... за всю
историю существования программы только один раз брали со стороны кураторский проект
готовый, это была teвыставка посвященная реставрации памятников 20-х годов в Тель-Авиве,
Белый город. Но просто настолько он... была маленькая, компактная, хорошо сделанная, она так
вписывалась в ту тематику... нашего архитектурного проекта, что мы решили показать это. То есть,
но в целом даже если нам предлагают путешествующую выставку, мы от нее отказываемся и как
правило придумываем что-то свое всегда. Нам делать, нам интересно делать конечно
самостоятельные проекты, потому что Эрмитаж это очень специфическое пространство, у которого
своя история, своя жизнь, он по-своему взаимодействует с экспонатами и исходя из этого опыта мы
делаем свой отбор. Нам интересно всегда сделать проект под Эрмитаж. Это главная основ... да, да.
В: Расскажите немножко о вашем отделе, как он устроен, с кем Вы взаимодействуете?
О: У нас отдел на самом деле небольшой, особенно для той работы, которую мы делаем, мы делаем
очень много, при этом нас мало. Обычно работают в отделе постоянно человек 6. Ну вот есть
начальник Дмитрий Юрич Озерков, есть его заместитель. Дальше по старшинству вот иду я, и еще
есть нау... младшие научные сотрудники, лаборанты. Вот, собственно, ну как правило,
кураторством в той или иной степени занимаются все. Понятно, что там Дмитрий Юрич, он более
концептуально руководит, если у лаборанта потра... поручен какой-то проект, то он делает его от
начала до конца самостоятельно, но в общем, в целом у нас ответственности много достаточно и на
л а б о р а н т а х , и н а м л а д ш и х н ау ч н ы х с от руд н и ка х и н а с т а р ш и х .
В : Н у а в ц е л о м ка к б ы , к у р ат о р в с е гд а в ы с т у п а е т од и н ч е л о в е к , д а ?
О: Куратор это скорее тот человек, который принимает основные решения. Он да, он разрабатывает
концепцию проекта, он определяет какие экспонаты будут участвовать в проекте, он там ведет
основные переговоры, он пишет статью, текст... он разрезает ленточку. Но как... выставка это не
только вот слова и переговоры, это очень много еще организ... организаторской работы. Причем
там очень много всего начиная от бюджета, у нас конечно и финансовая служба, и юридическая, но
все равно таким координирующим лицом является куратор. Поэтому там огромное количество
работы, которая связана именно с организацией. Перевозка экспонатов, составление описи
сохранности, там очень много разной работы. Таможенное оформление. Во всем этом принимает
В: А сколько времени в среднем Вы можете за... Ну это конечно дурацкий вопрос, готовится...
О: очень по-разному, очень по-разному зависит от проекта и от возможности. В идеале ра... над
проектом работать года три, чтобы все спокойно, с чувством, с толком, с расстановкой сделать. но
не всегда есть на это возможность, конечно. как правило, около года современные выставки именно
В: А с какими-то другими еще службами Эрмитажа Вы взаимодействуете, то есть есть какой-то
д о с т а в к у. . . .
О: Да, конечно. У нас есть отдельное б... таможенная, юридическая служба, финанс... финансовая
служба, пресс-служба. Конечно все эти зоны ответственности они распределены, безусловно. Но
все равно связующим лицом куратор... везде, да, в курсе того, что происходит и должен это
В: С ейчас ваши выст авки базируют ся в главном шт абе, или не обязательно?
О: В основном в главном штабе, но часто вот в случае с Заха Хадид, Калатравы мы делали их в
Николаевском зале. Сейчас большой проект готовится осенью, не архитектурный, другой, он тоже
будет во многом связан с историческими залами, с историческими помещениями. Манифеста была,
в общем тоже была полностью почти расположена и в главном штабе, и в исторических
интерьерах. Так что все зависит от проекта. Хотя конечно, предпочтение отдается современн...
залам в главном штабе. Кроме того, они сейчас очень становятся действительно популярными, о
них город узнал, и там у нас тоже теперь очереди. в общем за эти 3 года очень большая работа была
проведена, и это пространство так, раскры... оно уже раскручено.
О: Ну мне как историку конечно ближе пространство на дворцовой набережной... Главное Штаб
тоже историческое здание. Ммм... мне в нем не хватает немножко свидетельств человеческой
деятельности, она слишком новая, чистая, отреставрированная. Вот. Но это чисто моя
эмоциональная такая ремарка. Опять же потому что я историк в первую очередь.
В: Вы так же делали акцент на том, что важную часть занимает исследование
В: А расскажите как это все выстраивается, то есть возникает концепция, тема, и далее Вы уже
О: Ну да, как правило возникает сначала общая какая-то тема, а потом уже разбираю коллекцию,
изучаю памятники, которые привлекают внимание. Постепенно выстраивается общая концепция.
Как правило, концепция есть изначально, но она значительно корректируется в процессе именно
научного исследования. Если такое исследование есть. Ну это как правило связано с теми
выставками, которые посвящены истории школ 20-го века. Когда речь идет о каком-то современном
архитекторе, то естественно концепция сразу создается какая-то, и под нее подбираются экспонаты.
А с историческими выставками вот обратная ситуация. у тебя есть общее представление, что бы ты
хотел, ты начинаешь отбор экспонатов, изучаешь памятники, и постепенно там что-то
корректируется, в общем финальная идея она немножко отличается от первоначального замысла.
В: А Вы работаете и с архивными материалами, например даже выставка Захи Хадиды, на тот
момент она была жива, да, к сожалению она сейчас умерла, Вы как-то с ней обсуждали концепцию,
О: Ну, на общем, да, уровне, да, безусловно. И с ней, и с Патриком Шумахером, и по сути и с
Сантьяго Калатравой конечно, да. Единственный момент, что вот таких архитекторов как правило
очень занятый график, и естественно у них есть ассистенты, которые основную текучку, основную
работу выполняли. И как правило большая часть непосредственно работы, она идет с ассистентом
таких архитекторов. Хотя на общем уровне замысел, общую концепцию, она безусловно
В: А если речь идет о каких-то одних вот материалах и
Вам нужно привести что-то, что вне
О: Ну здесь вот так, едешь в архив , изучаешь, отбираешь материалы. Здесь в общем работа и
приятная, и в то же время очень ответственная, потому что по сути от твоего... мнения, от твоей
ко м п е т е н ц и и з а в и с и т т о , ч т о в р е з ул ьт ат е п о л у ч и т Э р м и т а ж н а в ы с т а в к у.
В: А расскажите пожалуйста о том, как Вы взаимодействуете с публикой, скажем так, является ли
это вашей в том числе работой, вот анонсирование, рекламы, Вам, Вы в этом принимаете участие?
О: Вообще по идее, мы особого участия в этом не принимаем. Здесь все зависит от конкретного
научного сотрудника, от конкретного желания, от конкретного проекта. В случае с выставками
современного искусства от этого очень сложно уйти, потому что правильно... как правило,
внимание прессы по... повышенное. То есть у нас безусловно на всех выставках очень хорошо пи...
пишут от... о нас рес, о нас информацию, вот. Но вот к проектам современного искусства как-то...
больше может наверно не знаю, [роллогого]13:31
какого-то интереса, и чаще просят личного
комментария. Чащ... часто очень возникают вопросы, не связанные с конкретными выставками.
Вот. И кроме того, поскольку у нас проект новый, молодой, нам важен, нам важно какой имидж в
общем создается. Вот, и поэтому так получается, ну вот я лично часто общаюсь с журналистами,
хотя конечно, как бы у нас все идет через прессу. Но иногда они выходят и на прямую. Но мне ка...
кажется, что связано именно с тем, что благодаря средствам массовой информации, благодаря
интернету просто доступнее становится публичный человек, вот. Так то в основном в... в основном
в общем в Эрмитаже это все делается через пресс-службу, безусловно. И все официальные
п р е с с - с л у ж б у.
В : П о н я т н о . А В ы п р о в од и т е ка к и е - то ку р ато р с к и е л е к ц и и и л и э кс ку р с и и ?
О: Иногда. Вообще у нас есть молодежный центр, который очень часто организует подобные
встречи и с художниками, и с кураторами. То есть в принципе у нас есть экскурсоводы, это их в
общем функция, главная роль, да. Но когда делается выставочный проект, как правило там 5-6
каких-то встреч проводится. Обращаются студенты иногда, какие-то коллеги, которые приводят
своих студентов. иногда это для молодежного центра. То есть... Я это не очень лично сама люблю,
В: Понятно. А когда разрабатывается экскурсия, по выставке, Вы непосредственно тоже, да пр...
О: Да, тогда как раз мы методистам и помог... помогаем. То есть приходят именно те, кто будет
разрабатывать экскурсию, маршрут так называемый, и конечно мы им все рассказываем, а они уже
разрабатывают на о снове этого рассказа свою авторскую экскурсию.
В: А как-то Вы лично собираете фидбэк от публики, то есть может какие-то...
О: У нас есть да, у нас есть книги отзывов. Это наверно такое, в общем мы их листаем, мы смотрим
что там написано. Хотя сейчас я реже стала их смотреть, но вот первые проекты, это для меня
важно было очень. Что еще, ну, например, соц сети какие-то, журнал... экспресс-прессу мы
обязательно смотрим, что какие отклики, что пишут журналисты.
В: А пытаетесь ли Вы как-то уловить настроение аудитории при подготовке нового проекта, или
О: Не то, что мы полностью пытаемся уловить настроение, нет. Безусловно мы в первую очередь
опираемся на, на свой профессиональный опыт и свою профессиональную точку зрения. Но
некоторую корректировку вот я лично сделала на протяж... делала на протяжении этих лет, в том
числе опираясь на отклики публики. Может быть это не совсем широкий срез аудитории, но тем не
менее в какой-то момент, когда была Голландская выставка, по отзывам я поняла, что то, что
кажется нам очень простым и легким, может быть не так легко усваивается, не так очевидно людям
не подготовленным, которые приходят. Поэтому не то что упрощаем выставки, нет, ни в коем
случае. Но может быть мы более тщательно продумываем подачу материала, как сделать ее более
наглядной, менее дедуктивной, может быть, дедуктивной. Ну в этом плане да, немножко, но влияет.
В: А Вы как-то ездите по другим выставкам, зависите от вдохновения, или сравниваете...
О: выставок то я много посещаю, и коллеги мои безусловно с огромным интересом это делают, но
это скорее не ради приобретения опыта, это в первую очередь ради такого интереса чисто
профессионального, потому что все историки, все искусствоведы, как именно, как жаждущие
новых знаний люди, мы все смотрим. Все равно очень трудно посмотреть что-то и потом воплотить
это у с... в жизни. Как правило, любой проект это своя история, поэтому ну какие-то дизайнерские
решения могут быть подсмотрены может быть, но опять же дизайнер...с... это не... Наверно мы не
занимаемся, это разрабатывает отдельный архитектор. Поэтому здесь степень влияния
минимальная. То есть мы смотрим много, но это мало сказывается на том, что мы сами делаем.
О: Ну я больше так сказать человек сосредоточенный на архитектурных проектах, коллеги мои
конечно... Дмитрий Озерков, он на всех биеннале бывает, на всех важных событиях, на всех
в а ж н ы х в ы с т а в к а х в Е в р о п е и в А з и ю о н е з д и т, в о б щ е м в е з д е б ы в а е т.
В: Я может просто не в курсе, но вдруг есть какие-то еще архитектурные биеннале или...
О: Ну есть Венецианская архитектурная биеннале, она самая важная конечно по уровню. В
остальных сферах, конечно, больше событий происходит. В архитектурной среде чуть меньше.
Много конференций каких-то узко сп... направленных, специализированных. Ну есть Марк Москва,
но она такая, немножко местечковая, к сожалению. Есть чудный проект Расстояние, но он больше
конечно наверно даже с... с искусством связан в целом, нежели с архитектурой. поэтому наверно
наиболее масштабным и серьезным до сих пор ос... и актуальным, остается как смотр, как ярмарка,
О: Ну не всегда удается конечно, это все-таки... Ну тут то есть каталоги там проектов
п р о с м ат р и ва ю ко н еч н о в с е гд а , л и ч н о п о б ы ват ь н е в с е гд а уд а е т с я .
В: А есть ли какие-то кураторы, которые Вас интересуют, за чьим творчеством Вы следите
О: Ну в России вообще архитектурных проектов очень мало. У нас есть зам... есть замечательные
специалисты, есть допустим, Юрий Авакумов, действительно очень мощный, серьезный ис... ну,
архитектор, исследователь, который действительно шт... делает кураторские проекты, с
концепцией, воплощенные с дизайном, с идеей. Есть отдельные институции, в которых
периодически бывают хорошие выставки, бывают хорошие выставки благодаря очень сильной
коллекции в музее Щусева. Опять же, у них очень хорошая коллекция. А так в основном за
границей, конечно. В Рибо... в Лондоне... где еще... В Нью Йорке хорошая, но я в Нью Йорке не
была. Но в целом выставок архитектурных намног... и в Роттердаме конечно еще кстати, хорошее
с о б р а н и е . . . н а м н о го м е н ь ш е , ч е м
в ц е л ом д ру г и х в ы с т а в оч н ы х п р о е к т о в .
В: А есть в Эрмитаже и у Вас такая цель, как популяризировать архитектуру...
О: Есть, но популяризировать не в том смысле, что сделать ее проще, каких-то... легализировать
как-то или доступной массам, нет. вызвать любопытство и интерес. Но это не популяризация всетаки, то есть немножко другое. И мне кажется, что популяризация это такое очень легкое,
поверхностное влияние, которое не оставляет следа в общем в сердце и в душах. Нам кажется, что
более важно рассказать подробно и увлекательно историю каких-то сфер, с которыми может быть
мало связан человек, и не любит их серую... в силу именно отсутствия информации. Современная
архитектура это в общем такая специфическая область, которая с одной стороны очень связана с
нашей повседневной жизнью в силу того, что постоянно что-то строится, застраивается, а с другой
стороны 20-й век такой вакуум архитектурный был в нашей стране. Поэтому нам кажется важным
просвещение, да, это наверно было бы более важное слово. Привлечь внимание к тому, что нам
кажет ся до стойным внимания. Если не любви, то внимания хотя бы.
В: А как-то проводятся ли параллели может быть на каких-то встречах как раз таки с публикой, с
О: Ну, параллели трудно проводить, у нас все-таки очень специфическая ситуация и в умах, и в
инфраструктуре. Мы такая немножко другая планета в этом плане. Но какие-то конференции мы в
общем регулярно устраиваем, периодически, которые посвящены и сохранению исторического
наследия 20-го века, попытка привлечь внимание к памятникам 20-го века и при... сформулировать
некий образ этой архитектуры, именно как достойные исторического [паритета]22:15 , некого
уважения, сохранения. Я думаю в этом направлении наиболее продуктивная работа. Ну и в
принципе, когда происходит выставка, когда происходит встреча на экспозиции, волей-неволей я
думаю, это заставляет зрителя задуматься, попытаться провести, да, какие-то параллели. Я думаю
В: А [чувствуется это]22:37
как-то, что среди публики есть профессиональная аудитория, то
О: Да, профессиональной аудитории очень много, это первая, в первую очередь это наша аудитория
это студенты- архитекторы, учащиеся, интере... именно те люди, ну и сами архитекторы, в общем
В: А могли бы Вы рассказать подробнее о каком-то проекте, который Вам особо, вами особенно
О: Ммм... Ну конечно мне очень важны были проекты, которые были посвящены голландской
архитектуре и финской архитектуре, потому что это были полностью полноценные кураторские
проекты, в которых была очень долгая, серьезная работа ав архивах, с собраниями, где очень
скрупулезно, долго отбирались материалы, чтобы получилась некая история, кот... в общем
архитектура 20-го века, второй половины 20-го века, и это такие итоги, которые даже на родине
этой архитектуры еще до нас не подводили. И в случае Голландской выставки и в случае с Финской
выставки, Эрмитаж выступил таким внешним катализатором для, для их сам... для них самих, чт...
для того, чтобы не побояться проанализировать свое недавнее прошлое. Как-то когда с этим
живешь близко, да, не возникает возможно такой потребности. И Эрмитаж таким образом
выступает в роли такого внешнего толчка. И нам очень приятно, что первые выставки, которые
претендуют на некий такой ретроспективный обзор, произошли не на родине этих архитектурных
направлений, а именно в стенах Эрмитажа. Это то, что касается выставки "Архитектура поГолландски" и "Золотое поколение", которая была посвящена финскому модернизму. Вот. Ну и
конечно, наверно, самый удачный проект из таких вот... Понятно что Калатрава, Заха Хадид это
были безумно популярные выставки, понятно почему, потому что это звезды. Вот. И здесь с одной
стороны приятно, интересно это делать, но с другой стороны вызовы больше конечно в таких более
рафинированных проектах, и в этом плане самым таким, пока успешным, является конечно
"Золотое поколение", посвященное Финскому модернизму в архитектуре, поскольку эта выставка,
которая была невероятно популярна, учитывая на... специфический, очень сложный часто
материал, который там выставлялся. там очень много архитектурной графики, чертежей, в общем
это такая ммм... трудно считываемая история, которая требует от зрителя некоего анализа,
погружения, преодоления в общем информац... информации. И то, что Петербуржцы, ну и там
гости наверное, с таким энтузиазмом откликнулись на это пр... на это вот кураторское
предложение, это для нас конечно здорово, очень приятно. И я думаю, что вот эти несколько лет
существования архитектурной программы они во многом позволили вот этот последний наш
проект сделать таким успешным, поскольку постепенно вот эта инерция преодо... преодол... была
преодолена. Видимо какое-то общ... общественное мнение сформировалось, что вот в главном
штабе проходят выставки, посвященные современной архитектуре. Это важно, это интересно, это
стоит посмотреть. И я думаю, что вот успех Финской выставки связан именно с этим, потому что
первые архитектурные проекты, они конечно имели намного меньше... они были не хуже ни в коем
случае, но они имели намного меньшие аудитории и намного... меньше посетителей, и отзывов
меньше. А вот Финский проект, он выстрелил просто с феноменальным успехом.
В: Можно ли сказать, что это было неожиданностью все-таки...
О: Нет, мы ждали. Мы понимали, что так будет. Скорее наши ожидания оправдались в этом случае,
О: Это была очень, очень был приятный процесс, именно вот как надо он шел, было время на, на
работу в архиве.. ах... там, я ездила в Хельсинки, в Йювяскюля, отбирала экспонаты, вот. Потом мы
там работали над каталогом, я писала статью, мы сделали дизайн каталога. Ну потом все про
в ы с т а в к у, п р и д у м а л и д и з а й н , э к с п о н а т ы п р и в е з л и , м ы и х р а с с т а в и л и . . .
В: Скажите, возникают ли сложности с тем, что например, Вы хотите выставить какой-то экспонат,
О: Нет, там каждый раз, особенно, с архитектурными выставками еще попроще, потому что в
принципе плюс-минус материал экспозиционный это выр... рисунки и макеты. Ну макеты могут
быть большие. В случае с Сантьяго Калатравой там было, были проблемы, но они были связаны не
с архитектурным материалом, а со скульптурным. И вот как раз современное искусство как р...
скульптуры, живопись, инсталляции, вот они постоянно вызывают массу вопросов, проблем, задач,
которые кажутся нерешаемыми. Но всегда находится какое-то решение, потому что действительно
очень нестандартный и по габаритам, и по составу материалов художественных произведений, и
очень часто приходится придумывать как их... да даже внести в зал иногда не удается. Иногда
дверные проемы слишком маленькие, иногда лифт не позволяет поднять, там какие-то вещи нельзя
переворачивать, их поэтому нужно там с краном поднимать на второй этаж. Ну в общем каждый
О: Обязательно, мы не имеем права монтировать вещи без участия кураторов, потому что
поскольку музей, мы принимаем... Там есть такой бюрократический еще момент, мы принимаем
вещи на временное хранение, то есть они не должны пострадать. И поэтому ну как говорится
ответственные за это должны всегда присутствовать при процессе монтажа, и вообще когда ктолибо
В: А бывало ли так, что ваши выставки хотели бы показать, продемонстрировать в других каких-то
О: Мы иногда показываем, но дело в том, что там мал... масса всяких юридических и
бюрократических препон. Путешеству.... путешествующую выставку готовить намного сло...
сложнее, потому что вот это, оформляется ввоз на более длительный срок, нужно заранее все очень
готовить серьезно. Поскольку я занималась в основн... у меня все выставки связаны с
архитектурой, а это графика, там в принципе невозможно сделать интенсивно путешествующую
выставку, потому что графика может 3 месяца находиться под светом, после этого она должна
отдыхать, в идеале там несколько лет. Вот, поэтому очень сложно подготовить, поэтому мы такие
штучные вещи подготавливаем, но мы уже начинаем думать о том, как, как это... оптимизировать
эту работу, потому что проекты действительно уникальные, и хочется чтобы они не только 3
месяца существовали, и в каталоге оставались, а хочется, чтоб показывать еще, их еще где-то.
Поэтому возможно мы будем как раз думать на эт... над тем, как придумать вариант, опцию для
В: Поступают к Эрмитажу или именно к Вам просьбы о том, чтобы повторить выставку где-то?
О: Поступают, да. Поступают, но как правило сталкиваются с тем, что те, кто хотят сначала
организовать ее понимают, что это оказывается гигантская организационная работа, которую очень
сложно потянуть всем, кто чуть меньше по размерам, чем Эрмитаж.
А откуда возникают вот т акие предл ожения, из каких...
О: Ну из самых разных. Московские музеи часто хотят. Но когда выставка более или менее простая
по составу, например фотография, вот Кандиду Хёфер выпустим, мы сейчас, она сейчас
выставляется в музее... в фотографии в Москве. Но там доп... ясный, понятный состав, и там
условия хранения позволяли повторить. Понятно, что такую выставку, как с Ха... Сантьяго
Калатрава повторить практически невозможно. Идентично повторить точно невозможно, потому
что она делается непосредственно под Николаевский зал, под эти уникальные исторические
интерьеры, и там сложная очень работа и по монтажу, и по перевозке экспонатов, в общем... это
очень сложный, трудоемкий, огромный процесс и его не потянуть музеям небольшим, а если это
там допустим, Пушкинский музей, у них свои р... на самом деле проекты аналогичные. Поэтому, то
есть в принцип... поступают предложения, но потом от них отказывались, потому что было
О: Международные коллеги.... ну, опять же это слишком дорого. Европа на самом деле более
сдержана в средствах, нежели чем мног... Русские музеи. Такой огромный проект как Заха Хадид
или Калатравы, его не повторить. А вот маленькие п... а вот проекты с графикой архитектурной,
которые мы делали про Голландию и Финляндию, они их повторяли на самом деле, но чаще более
в скорректированном варианте, но да, они повторя... повторяют их. Ну вот в Роттерд... Роттердаме
мы... музей архи... вот... архитектурный, они как раз наш проект взяли за основу и...
сот руднича л и,
Н е т,
н е т.
В : То е с т ь о н и п р о с т о бе ру т н ап р и м е р , в а ш у п убл и ка ц и ю и . . .
О: Нет, они его немножко модифицируют. Мы таким скорее идейным вдохновителем выступаем.
В: А, понятно. Здорово. А я хотела уточнить, являетесь ли Вы так же руководителем каких-то
О: У нас есть хранения отдел, отделю Я лично не, ничего не храню. У нас есть один хранитель,
потому что у нас коллекция пока еще не такая большая, чтобы там происходило деление там на
архит... на рисунок, еще на что-то, на... Ну мы все их хра... у всей коллекции современного
В: Ага. А запрашивают ли другие, ну наверняка запрашивают, другие страны...
О: Ну у нас путешествующие выставки есть, у нас Пригова часто показываем, Кабакова, Кандиду
Х е ф е р . Д а , о ч е н ь ч а с т о с п р а ш и в а ю т, з а п р а ш и в а ю т, и м ы д е л а е м . . .
В: А влияют ли как-то я не знаю, можно ли это так назвать, плюс того, что это Эрмитаж, или
П ом о г а е т,
п ом о г а е т,
В: Но какая-то не знаю, может быть если сравнить ваш предыдущий профессиональный опыт, есть
О: Дело в том, что большая ответственность это хорошо, а не плохо, потому что это зас...
мотивирует тебя делать твою работу хорошо, поэтому я в этом не вижу преграды, наоборот мне
кажется это преимущество. Чем больше... планка выше, чем больше амбиций, тем лучше ты
делаешь свою работу. вот, поэтому в этом плане опять же это только плюс, то, что это Эрмитаж.
В: А так как Эрмитаж это огромная структура, как насчет всяких например [политических]
О: Эээ... ну здесь все зависит от само организованности. Если ты принимаешь, что, вот, такое
положение вещей, что есть правила, что чтобы система работала, нужно соблюсти какие-то
элементарные правила. То это опять же соблюдение и ... учитывание того, что это вот
больш...длительные процессы вот, хождения бумаг, это не вызывает даже никаких особых
сложностей, если ты принимаешь изначально, и работаешь, выстраиваешь свою работу учитывая
все эти моменты рабочие. От темперамента, наверное, это зависит. Мне это подходит, я достаточно
консервативный человек, мне нравится, когда есть схема, по которой нужно двигаться.
В: Как у Вас устроен рабочий график? Вы постоя... ну, сегодня Вы за Пятницу выхо...
О: У меня, у меня очень свободный рабочий график. Все зависит от отдела естественно, как
отлажена работа. понятно, что когда у меня там 2 месяца до выставки, эти 2 месяца проходят в
общем только на работе, и это, это ненормированный график. Сколько нужно на работе быть,
столько мы да, там ну, монтаж если бывает, и ночью, то есть самые разные бывают ситуации. Но...
у меня сейчас достаточно свободный график. Во-первых, потому что меня уже в принципе, я не
лаборант, не младший сотрудник, поэтому на мне меньше всяких поручений, на мне практически
их нету, то есть я эту стадию уже прой... пройшла, прошла и я отвечаю только за свои проекты. И
соответственно я могу готовить выставку и дома. Научная деятельность она вообще, по- разному
протекает. Когда-то нужно в архив, когда-то нужно дома остаться почитать. То ест здесь абсолютно
В: А насколько... Ну вот я просто с, со многими кураторами общалась, и в основном все говорят,
что личная жизнь там, личное время и кураторство это профессия настолько тесно переплетены,
О: Ну в общем конечно да, да. Да, но я так думаю, это во многих гуманитарных профессиях
происходит. Не о... которые не связаны с офисной жизнью. Естественно, это так.
В: А Вы занимаетесь Вашими исследованиями именно в контексте конкретной уже подготовки
выставки, или это мо... могут быть какие-то параллельные вещи?
О: Чаще всего это, ну вот у меня так получ... я просто стараюсь... опять же, я выбираю те проекты,
в которых у меня есть интерес научный. Поэтому у меня это всегда совпадает. Единственное что,
вот я диссертацию доделываю по теме, которую выставочно я уже ее отработала, я уже ей не
занимаюсь, но я продолжаю ей заниматься, потому что
я должна эту... галочку поставить.
Возможно сейчас у меня будет увелич... постепенно увеличиваться поле научных интересов,
которые не всегда будут совпадать с интересами выставочными, но это как-бы не особая преграда,
э т о н о р м а л ь н о , т а к у в с е х н а у ч н ы х с о т р уд н и к о в Э р м и т а ж а п р о и с х о д и т.
В: А Вы упомянули, что Вы начинали получается вот с места лаборанта, да, с позиции...
б ы в а е т.
В: И дальше уже идет какой-то карьерный рост в зависимости еще и от научной, да, позиции
О: Эээ... Ну нет, это не сто... Вы может быть и кандидатом наук и оставаться лаборантом, здесь это
не очень связано . Как пр ав ил о , это т ако й е сте ственны й пр о це сс.
О: Для меня она первостепенную играет роль, да. Кураторство — это так, побочный эффект
В : Д а ? То е с т ь В ы в о о б щ е н и к о г д а д а ж е н е д у м а л и , ч т о о к а ж е т е с ь . . .
О: Ну просто эээ... это сейчас стало модно это понятие куратор, как вот, вершители [смеется] да,
судеб художников, властители дум. Я не воспринимаю эту профессию с этой точки зрения, для
меня кураторство — это как бы естественное продолжение научной деятельности в первую
очередь. Хотя я безусловно понимаю, что... даже не то, что широкая публика, и узкие
художественные круги, они ждут именно какого-то жеста от выставочного проекта. мы естественно
это принимаем во внимание и там, стараемся немножко опять же корректировать наши взгляды...
не делать из выставки архива. Но все равно мне кажется, что без очень тщательной научной
п р о р а б о т к и т е м ы л ю б о й ж е с т — э т о п р о с т о ф и к ц и я , ко т о р а я р а с к р о е т с я .
В: А скажите, Вы участвуете в каких-нибудь сторонних проектах, может быть, как приглашенный
э кс п е рт,
О: В выставочных реже, на это просто нету вр.. де... времени, поэтому я, мне предлагали несколько
раз, но я отказывалась, потому что мне это было абсолютно ну, не интересно, это была затрата сил,
времени, энергии, отвлекало от основной работы. Но в целом так, в качестве комментатора там,
В: А расскажите пожалуйста о ваших планах дальше, как Вы будете развивать программу?
О: Развивать программу... ну мы сейчас наверно будем готовить... Вот лично у меня сейчас нету сил
на научную де... такую очень научную выставку, то есть она будет как, но не в ближайшие 2 года.
Сейчас наверно будет 2 друг за другом выставки больших, серьезных имен, которых давно уже
пора показать было в Эрмитаже, но вот собираемся это сделать. то есть это будут такие
В: Здорово. А насколько вообще для Эрмитажа и для Вас важно привозить звездных, или
О: Нам не столько важен их звездный статус, сколько важна фиксация каких-то важных... вещей,
которые происходят в мире искусства и в мире архитектуры. Мы здесь выступаем не как
промоутеры какого-то имени, мы здесь выступаем в качестве институции, которая заявляет
соответственно что вот, есть очень важное направление, оно явно больше, чем просто мода.
Поэтому мы хотим о н... об этом направлении рассказать. И хотим поместить его в контекст общей
истории искусств, которая предста... которую, за которую [председательствует] в общем
государственный Эрмитаж. Мы вот в таком контексте размышляем. И имена, которые мы надеюсь
покажем, это такие серьезные мыслители в первую очередь. И они нам важны именно своим
концептуальным влиянием на архитектуру конца 20-го и 21-го века. Они звезды именно потому, что
В: Хорошо. А Вы еще упоминали молодежный центр, и я сама туда много лет ходила на
протяжении своей учебы. А Вы как-то принимаете участие в его деятельности?
О: Ну мы иногда читаем лекции определенные, там нас приглашают, просят. Но в общем это такая
отдельная совершенно сфера работы наших коллег, они целенаправленно разрабатывают
программы именно для молодежной аудитории. У них есть свои лекторы, свои в общем
сотрудники, которые этим занимаются, которые умеют, которые знают эту публику, которые знают
в каком жанре нужно представлять рассказ. Но иногда да, иногда, как правило это именно связано
В: В целом видно, то что как-то это направление деятельности Эрмитажа влияет на качество может
быть, публики, которая потом приходит к Вам на выставки?
О: Я думаю они привлекают аудиторию, безусловно. У них во всяком случае невероятной
популярностью пользуется из программа, все что они делают. и это каждый раз удивляет, потому
что очень быстро забываешь о своих студенческих годах, забываешь как ты легок был на подъем,
все начинаешь мерить своей
инертностью, вот. И когда видишь, как там по несколько сотен
приходят на лекцию, конечно это впечатляет. И да, безусловно, я думаю, что работа молодежного
центра она добавляет публике... [с помощью] сарафанное радио более интенсивно работает,
В: А если мы вернемся обратно именно к процессу работы над выставкой, что самое сложное для
О: Я очень не люблю организаторскую работу. Не потому что я плохо ее делаю, наоборот, я
слишком может быть иногда, ну сейчас как-то я научилась с этим, с этой ответственностью
справляться, но поначалу именно из-за того, что её хочется сделать очень правильно, а работы
организационной очень много, когда ты делаешь выставку, то очень много на это уходит сил
моральных, потому что мне работа в первую очередь важна с точки зрения истории искусства,
поэтому конечно все эти... менеджерские моменты, написание писем, координация людей друг с
другом, мне это все... не... не... ну, не очень интересно. И это, наверно из-за этого... Ну это не то,
что сложно, но это занимает очень много, отнимает очень много сил. Это то, на что я потратила
очень много времени, чтобы как-то стабилизировать, отладить как-то этот процесс, чтобы он
меньше сил и времени занимал. Вот. а так в целом, всегда немножко по-р... каждая выставка всегда,
никогда не повторяет предыдущую, никак. Как бы ты не пытался отладить процесс, все равно
жизнь его корректирует, поэтому мы уже в... оставили эти попытки разработать какую-то, какую-то
схему, план. И я, и мои коллеги понимали, что это будет что-то свое, что-то новое.
О: Самое конечно приятное, это во-первых, когда ты каталог получаешь из типографии. Ну это я
думаю любому искусствоведу ва... как к любому книгочею это важно, потому что это вот, то, что
останется. И конечно процесс монтажа он очень приятный. Если все нормально, если [смеется]
нету никаких- то, каких-то катастроф, то конечно вот эта вот расстановка экспонатов по витринам,
когда уже идет развеска, когда уже все понятно, что вот все складывается, то этот процесс, когда за
2 дня вырастает выставка из вороха коробок, это конечно здорово. Это очень приятно.
б ы в а ю т,
О: Да всегда форс-мажоры, не бывает, чтобы не было форс-мажоров. Даже у самого продуманного,
выверенного проекта все равно что-то случается. Самое, в самых нелепых ситуациях,
В: А насколько изначальный проект выставки там, расположение объектов, насколько он статичен,
или бывает так, что Вы при проце ссе монтажа меняете положение...
О: Мы немножко меняем, корректируем. Там такая есть сложность, в проектном, дизайн выставки
должен быть там за пару дней утвержден у пожарников и службы безопасности. Вот. Там есть
определенные нормы по расстоянию между экспонатами и так далее. То есть что-то
скорректировать можно, перевесить там со стенки на стенку, да. Сложнее допустим, с какими-то
крупными объектами, которые на полу стоят, их сложнее двигать. Сложно, если у тебя у дизайнера
уже запроектирована электрическая розетка для какого-то механического объекта, и его уже не
переставить, да, потому что он на розетку завязан. Но так в целом, в общем как, как-то слегка мы
корректируем конечно развеску, расстановку. Особенно когда речь идет о, о выставках, где живой
художник участвует, которому хочется самому как-то на месте... Хотя у нас безусловно с этим
сложности бывают, потому что одно дело пространство современной галереи, где художник творит
прямо вот онлайн, у нас такое... ну, менее возможно, опять же в силу ряда бюрократических
обстоятельств. Но это бюрократические обстоятельства, которые связаны не из-за того, что мы
такие вот, у нам так все косно и мы не, не понимаем, что такое современное искусство, а просто
потому что если эти нормы все время нарушать, то музей, который не галерея современного
искусства, а музей, в котором памятники собраны за несколько тысячелетий, это очень сильно
помешает его работе. Это может пагубно сказаться на сохранности экспонатов, на основных
экспозициях. Поэтому эти нормы, они не случайно берутся. Но они, современному искусству они
работать часто мешают. Хотя иногда все-таки они, в конце концов, они выступают в качестве всетаки базы, на которой мы стоим, на которую мы опираемся.
В: А вот Манифеста, Вы в Манифесте тоже принимали участие, в какой-то организационной
О: Ну в орг... у нас был там человек, который орган...организационных принимал. Иногда как-то
комментариями, какими-то консульт... консультации, мы принимали участие. Ну Дмитрий Юрич
Озерков, он участвовал в отборе художников. Но в целом, в целом мы так сторонним были больше
В: А в целом насколько Ваш отдел стабилен по составу, скажем так. То есть это люди, которые уже
т а м м н о г о л е т н а хо д я т с я , и л и . . . Н а с ко л ь ко о н о т к р ы т д л я н о в ы х л юд е й ?
О: Он открыт для новых, вот только что 3 человека новых пришло. Это связано там с декретными
отпусками длительными. Состав меняется. Неизменной остается глава, вот. Те, кто по моложе, вот
опять же из-за того, что девушки во отпр... в дек... декреты они все равно заканчиваются в какой-то
момент в силу естественного течения жизни. То есть обновление происходит постоянно, там раз в 2
В : А к а к - т о В ы в з а и м од е й с т ву е т е е щ е с в а ш и м и ко л л е г а м и и Э р м и т а ж е м
О: Обязательно, об. И вне Эрмитажа, и в самом Эрмитаже у нас очень много коллег в разных
О: Ну как правило это связано с тем, что мы все учились, заканчивали одни и те же кафедры, там,
проходили через какие-то общие истории, связанные именно с университетом, поэтому все более
или менее друг друга знаем. И это не связано с профессиональной деятельностью, а это больше
связано с какими-то личными симпатиями, во. Хотя есть и отделы, с которыми мы сотрудничаем
В: А насколько вообще в Эрмитаже скажем так, я не знаю сколько сотрудников всего, но насколько
О: Сотрудников то несколько тысяч, а научных сотрудников ну поря... ну несколько сотен точно,
О: Ну это, это сложная структура. Там есть и сплоченные моменты, и не сплоченные моменты, но,
в от. . .
О: Ну как, безусловно, я общаюсь с теми, с кем я обсуждаю какие-то архитектурные вопросы, у
меня есть коллеги в Европейском университете, есть какие-то независимые критикиискусствоведы. круг достаточно узкий, потому что в принципе у нас в Петербурге все друг друга
знают. Такую тесную дружбу я вожу именно с теми кто, с теми, кто, ну так получилось, что кто
именно архитектурой занимается. Хотя у ма...у... я вот знаю там у Дмитрия Юрича много друзей
В: А насколько вы, Вы ну, следите за проектами, которые не связаны с архитектурой, но связаны с
О : С л е ж у, н у п р о с т о ч а с т о п о л у ч а ю п р и г л а ш е н и я , д а , п р и х о ж у. . .
В: А какие-то проекты у Вас вызывают интерес, симпатию, что-то может из последних, сейчас
довольно создается впечатление, что такой вот возникает бум например [саваторного] искусства в
О: У нас очень мало на самом деле, даже по сравнению с Москвой очень мало галерей. Ну у нас
вот есть KGallery, которые очень хорошо работают, Анна Нова иногда бывает что-то, в Новом музее
периодически, вот хорошая Сотникова была выставка посмертная, но тоже как-то они сейчас редко
стали, меньше все. Очень интересная жизнь в Эрарте на сцене у них происходит, я не про галерею
говорю, а именно про... про программу театральную и музыкальную. Вот. Но вообще очень мало
всего происходит, к сожалению. Поэтому я не могу сказать, что я прямо вот захвачена... Я думаю
что если бы сейчас были 90-е годы, я бы намного больше ходила по каким-то общественным
О: Мне кажется, что Петербург наш провинциален. Он хо... точнее он... это... не плохо, и не
В: Понятно. а если вернуться еще обратно к Эрмитажу, я правильно понимаю, что есть какой-то
п р о г р а м м у,
О: Нет, нет. Мы в рамках общего бюджета существуем. Просто если какой-то очень серьезный
такой проект, как Заха Хадида, под него конечно еще спонсорские средства. Это каждый раз
отдельная по фандрайзингу программа, которая, к которой мы как правило, отношения не имеем,
потому что это, ну, это не наше в общем работа, не наша профессия. Но это каждый раз своя
В: А возникают ли сложности с [устройством] финансовой какой-то поддержки, или это...
О: Ну деньги это всегда сложность, но... все зависит от того, кто решает проблему.
В: Может быть Вы могли бы еще рассказать подробнее о... о том, как происходит, не знаю, именно
вот эти все кураторские моменты, которые как сказать... насколько они у Вас пересекались с
исследованием. То есть как вы, монтируете выставку опираясь на исследование...
О: Ну... Допустим, я работаю в архиве. Я вижу какие-то потрясающей красоты чертежи, которые
вроде бы изначально ннее стыковались с концепцией общей, но я понимаю, что их надо показать. И
поэтому я их отбираю. Это уже происходит какая-то корректировка... изначального замысла. Или
наоборот, есть очень интересная тема по книжному интересная, но под которую ну совершенно не
подобрать яркого, выразительного визуального материала. Я оставляю эту тему для статьи. Я
оставляю ее для каталога, но не выношу на рассмотрение в рамках выставки. Ну вот, вот так это
В: А я еще хотела уточнить по поводу макетов. Макеты каких-то зданий да, сооружений, они уже
изначально изготовлены, или что-то изготавливает специальный...
О: По-разному. Очень мало собраний в Европе и в мире, где хорошая есть коллекция макетов. В
случае с современными художниками-архитекторами, они делают их либо специально для
выставки, либо они их выполнили в качестве презентации для клиента и его даль... это все
современные в общем вещи. Вот на Финском проекте было много макетов, которые ну в течении
вот десятилетий появлялись в коллекциях. Они не были сделаны самим архитектором, который уже
давно умер, но они не были сделаны специально для выставки. просто они когда-то были сделаны
для чего-то. Бывает чт... там пару раз мы именно специально для проекта делали новый макет,
потому что нам очень хотелось показать именно как выглядит в трех... трехмерно какая-то
ко н ц е п ц и я , к а к а я - т о и д е я . То е с т ь , н у в о б щ е м в с . . . э т о в а р и а т и в н о .
В: А еще Вы упоминали про каталог. расскажите пожалуйста о том, как Вы его делаете. Он
О: Ну выставочный каталог он на то и выставочный, что он упирается да, на какую-то очередную
выставку. Там очень все как правило, как раз просто. Во всяком случае для архитектурной
программы у нас выработана общая схема. у нас такая получается серия уже достаточно
внушительная за, за эти годы. выставочный каталог состоит из вступительного слова директора,
вступительного, а, вступительной статьи общей куратора, которая дает основную информацию,
основные и научные какие-то траектории, и обще-концептуальные замыслы. И собственно
каталожная часть, где даны фотографии всех экспонатов. Иногда они сопровождаются каким-то
комментарием, иногда это просто этикет... этикеточная информация. Ну вот из этого обычно
состоит каталог. Иногда в каких-то случаях я предлагаю еще каким-то специалистам стать...
статьями поучаствовать. То есть там помимо основной моей статьи еще есть какие-то узкие
специалисты, которые эту дополнительную информацию интересную дают. Иногда это интервью с
архитектором, как у на было с Заха Хадид. Но в целом вот деление такое. Официальная часть,
к а т а л о г.
В: А на сколько потом этот каталог расходится, многие ли его приобретают?
О:Да. Ну з... Калатрава, Заха Хадид это у нас двойные тиражи были, то есть Калатраву вообще не
найти было днем с огнем. Заха Хадид тут еще есть, но это уже второй тираж, вот. Голландская
архитектура, финская, она конечно чуть медленнее раскупается, но тоже в общем их покупают. Но
там тиражи правда не большие, там 1000 экземпляров. Но это очень солидные, толстые издания.
э т о т о ж е н у ж н о у ч и т ы в а т ь . Д а , э т о в о б щ е м п о п ул я р н о с т ь ю п о л ь з у е т с я .
О: Нет, к сожалению... точнее так: у нас вот Заха она на двух языках вышла, ну там просто она
печаталась не на деньги Эрмитажа, это как спонсорский такой проект. А обычно у нас издания,
которые печатает Эрмитаж, там максимум на двух языках этикетки даны. А статьи как правило
В: И хотела еще спросить про то, где они распространяются. Это только в Эрмитаже можно
О : То л ь ко в Э р м и т а ж е , т о л ь ко в Э р м и т а ж е . Н у в Э р м и т а ж н о м м а г а з и н е .
В: Да, хорошо. Хотела еще такой вопрос задать, не знаю насколько он правильный в принципе, но
как бы Вы сформулировали кто такой куратор? Некое такое собственное определение.
О: Ну для меня это тот, кто читает, а потом пишет [смеется] собственно, что он прочел. В первую
очередь для меня это все-таки человек, который со словом работает. И который привлекает
в н и м а н и е . Ч е л о в е к , кото р ы й п р и вл е ка е т в н и м а н и е к ка ко й - то т е м е .
В: Еще Вам интереснее взаимодействовать с архитектором, который сейчас жив, или материалы,
О: Раньше мне было однозначно интереснее работать с архивом, теперь 50 на 50. Теперь мне... так
же, в равной степени стало интересно общаться с современными архитекторами.
В : А в ч е м , к а к В ы в ы с т р а и в а е т е ко м м у н и к а ц и ю с а р х и т е к т о р о м , е с л и . . .
О: А все зависит от архитектора, по-разному. Вот сейчас мы строим непосредственное общение с
переписки, с совместного обсуждения общего видения, потом начинается просмотр внимательный
О: От архитектора зависит. Бывает на уровне звезд архитектурных, они все очень разные. У них у
всех свои комплексы, свои характерные какие-то особенности. С кем-то вообще невозможно
общаться, потому что он прям, он звезда. Кто-то бесконечно демократично себя ведет и дает доступ
к себе максимальный. И такой процесс как правило более намного плодотворный получается.
В: Хорошо. И мой последний вопрос наверно, а есть ли у Вас в планах перейти куда-то из
О: Нет, нет, вообще и даже желания. Мне кажется, если бы я переехала в Москву, я бы наверное
никуда не пошла работать. После Эрмитажа... Кажется все остальное - компромисс ненужный.
Отзывы:Авторизуйтесь, чтобы оставить отзыв