• The post-political curator: Critical curatorial practice in de-politicised enclosures

Staunton, Claire, 2023, Thesis, The post-political curator: Critical curatorial practice in de-politicised enclosures PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The Post-political Curator: Critical Curatorial Practice in De-Politicised Enclosures is a practice-led investigation into the problems and possibilities for critical curating in twenty-first century new towns. I propose that the newest settlements are apparatuses through which a post-political consensus is constructed and reproduced. I question whether the construction of an agonistic public sphere is possible through curating and consider whether the public sphere is foreclosed by the socio-political arrangements of a de-politicised enclosure. This project sets up an enquiry using the post-political as a critical framework to reconceive the relation between the politics of new housing developments and curating.

A form of critical curating which presumes that criticality is a transformative mode of practice with the capacity to intervene effectively in hegemonic regimes is problematic. What if we curators can no longer practise with these assumptions? This thesis analyses the claims made for critical and socially engaged curatorial practices and asks, what is at stake when we practise ‘politically’ in a context that has been de-politicised, like the twenty-first-century new town? This investigation is led by my practice in the newest new towns of Cranbrook, Devon and Ebbsfleet, Kent and in my role as Research Curator at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes. With an orientation towards the horizon of the political, this project re-examines the very function of curating and art in the context of a new town and proposes the figure of a ‘post-political curator’.

The research invokes the methods of a community organiser and the activist's instruction manual as a genre of writing; the final practical project which has resulted from this is a Handbook for the Post-Political Curator. I claim that producing the handbook, and the intention for it to be collectively edited, constitutes a post-political curatorial practice. The handbook is designed to function independently as a resource for curators who want to push back against the foreclosure of political agency. Alongside the thesis, the handbook also serves as documentation for my discursive and administrative curatorial practice undertaken as part of the PhD research. The handbook and the notion of the Post-Political Curator do not seek to re-politicise the new town or solve the disenfranchisement that such conditions produce but rather to propose a new conception of curating’s relation to politics and the means to realise an alternative function for critical curatorial practices.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > RCA Additional Subjects > Curating
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: AHRC (Techne) [1948242]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Curating; Post-Political; De-politicisation; Enclosures; Art
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2023 11:37
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2024 08:38
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5278
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