Curator with a K


This essay intends to explore how the role of the curator is expanding and adapting to the current new media based world, with a specific focus on web platforms. It analyses curatorial practice with and within the internet realm, ultimately posing questions related to spatial hierarchies and to the curator’s role within them.

Primarily, it is important to define and relate the concepts of immateriality and systems; those being the ones that define the ‘what, where and how’ of web-based art and, consequently, its curatorial challenges. There is a need to understand these new emerging ‘materialities’ as well as analysing how they work in this network system basis they inhabit. With this, there is a clearer understanding of how the role of the curator is shifting more towards a system-based collaboration, instead of the centralized model of working – the curator as a gatekeeper [1].

To illustrate the ideas propositioned before, there are presented two distinct yet related examples of web influenced curatorial modes. The first is Unoriginal Genius, an exhibition curated by Domenico Quaranta at Carroll/Fletcher’s Project Space in 2014, comprising a series of web and screen based works that had a physical presence on the physical space. It is important to stress how the curator deals with web-based works inside a gallery space and furthermore, how the institution deals with the rapidly expanding web presence, in terms of defining values and discourses. Following that, Kurator, a project developed by the programmer Grzesiek Sedek and the curator Joasia Krysa in 2004, is presented as an example of a web based software aided curating system. It depicts how art lives outside the gallery and it highlights questions of collaboration within open source networks, particularly related to curating.

The internet’s interface introduces exciting new opportunities and possibilities, though the concern might not be just questions of display, but to consider how both physical and web-based spaces relate and co-exist and, ultimately, how these emerging systems have influenced the practice of both artists and curators.


[1] Referring to the curator as a caretaker, a keeper of a museum or a collection, describing its original role. On his essay, Steven Dietz proposes the idea of curators as creators of platforms that any artist who meets the articulated criteria can ‘join’ and build on.
See Dietz, S. (2008) Curating Net Art: A Field Guide, Paul, C. ed. in New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, p.78.