alcramer [Alfredo Cramerotti]

Alfredo Cramerotti: Modes of Curating / Curating as Research @ Valletta 2018 International Curatorial School, Malta

Posted in nEws and rEleases, Thoughts.Coaching, Tools.Coaching by alcramer on August 27, 2017

Valletta Campus of the University of Malta

28 August – 1 September 2017

Screenshot 2017-08-27 18.50.23.png

Conceiving and understanding “research” as a form of curating – namely, organizing
connections and defining touchstones in contemporary visual culture by means of my
work as a writer, speaker and project organizer – the 5-day curatorial course will focus on developing a discourse, or a statement through works of art, which of course can also overwhelm or enhance the project’s rationale.

As curator, I act as meta-artist; the work undertaken is less about the “what” and
more about the “how”.

PART ONE
Keynote speech: Beyond and Besides Me: The Curator as Meta-Artist.

Presentation of three curatorial drafts recently delivered: Michael Takeo Magruder’s “De-Coding the Apocalypse” at the King’s College Cultural Institute London (2014/15); Marinella Senatore’s “The School of Narrative Dance” at MOSTYN (2016); and Shezad Dawood’s “Leviathan” at Palazzina Canonica Venice (2017). An insight into the themes and approaches to these exhibitions, the conversations with the artists, the “research outcomes” in relation to space, mediation and diffusion as a form of research.

PART TWO
Research Module 1: The Social, Humanitarian, Historical, Scientific as Art.

What does beauty has to do with, for instance, migration, climate change, social cohesion, mental or physical conditions? What is our understanding of aesthetics
in relation to ethics? How do we tackle themes that lend themselves awkwardly to a
presentation in the (critical) visual realm?

PART THREE
Research Module 2: The act of thinking, planning, resourcing,
delivering, closing and finalising your next exhibition or curatorial project.

Speculations. Three type of curating (from Cook / Graham):

Project making as exchange / trade show: the modular model, based on one incarnation of a multilevel event structure / platform with the possibility to scale up / down elements of the project without affecting its overall coherence (curator as filter / stylistic editor)

Project making as broadcast: the distributed model, based on “exhibitions” where different curators create their own infrastructure / agency or occupy existing platforms to circulate art and the process of curating itself (curator as node / translator).

Project making as software program / data flow: the iterative model, based on change from one venue to another (or one exhibition to another) each time – growing around a selection of key works (curator as maker / producer / managing editor)

PART FOUR
The Pitch (one day): Poster(ing)

An “exhibition of ideas” where curators can get an inkling of what has been taking place in other workshops. A collective poster session during which participants present a diagrammatic idea of their individual concept / project to each other, and particularly to participants and curators in other groups, informed by both feedback and speculations of the days before.

The Valletta 2018 International Curatorial School, Malta is organized by Raphael Vella with the participation of Alfredo Cramerotti, Sebastian Cichocki, Mick Wilson, Bassam El Baroni, Fulya Erdemci, and Maren Richter.

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Cats and creatives

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on April 25, 2009

David Parrish posted recently an interesting compariso between creative people and cats, the sort of things makes you smile but then – in the end – has some strategic potential.

You can find the complete post here; what below is an excerpt. Enjoy.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review on ‘Leading Clever People’ (details below). The researchers make several interesting points about leading creative people (and other clever people including scientists and academics). Before my own presentation I was musing on the conclusions of the article and the analogy of ‘herding cats’. I couldn’t help thinking of some similarities between the article’s conclusions about leading creatives and managing a pet cat.

1. ‘Creatives’ do not want to be led. Neither do cats. Try putting a lead on a cat.
2. ‘Creatives’ like to do their own thing. So do cats. Some companies allow their employees to use 20% of their time to pursue personal projects. I call this the ‘80% loyalty’ philosophy. Some cat owners accept that their cats sometimes disappear for days to do their own thing. They probably have another human who also feeds them.
3. ‘Creatives’ have a low boredom threshold. Cats soon get bored with you.
4. ‘Creatives’ expect instant access. Even if they want you to keep away from them most of the time, when they want you, they expect to get to see you. Similarly with cats. You can’t find them but they can always find you when they want you.
5. ‘Creatives’ won’t thank you and will be unwilling to recognise your leadership. Cats might get friendly  when they want something, but after they get fed they just walk away.
6. Even though they don’t acknowledge it, ‘creatives’ need you and the organisation as much as you need them. Despite cats’ aloofness, like ‘creatives’ they do depend on the shelter and food you provide.

I won’t try to push the comparisons further but it does seem that there are some amusing similarities!
Let me know what you think – I’d like to hear your views.

The HBR article is ‘Leading Clever People’ by Rob Goffee from London Business School and Gareth Jones from INSEAD, who have studied leadership for 20 years. Their article was published in March 2007 and is available online from Harvard Business Review.

Other Motivations/2

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on December 22, 2008

Values

This is a further article in the “Motivations’ series published by Mark McGuiness; you can find it here.

Manager: “I just don’t understand it. I’ve tried everything, but he still doesn’t get it. He just carries on doing the opposite of what he’s supposed to do.”

Coach: “Well I’ve heard a lot about why you want him to do it, and a lot of reasons why he ’should’ do it. But the question I haven’t heard the answer to is ‘What’s in it for him?’”

(Long silence.)

Manager: “That’s a very good question.”

The basic problem is one of empathy. It is partly down to the situation – because the manager sees the big picture clearly and is under so much pressure to deliver results, it’s easy to forget that others may not have the same understanding or urgency. But it’s also down to a fundamental blindspot of human beings – it’s so easy for each of us to assume that everyone has the same values and priorities that we do.

Because we all have different personal motivations – otherwise known as values. Or rather, we may well share many of the same values, but may not rank them in quite the same way. Recognising and respecting other people’s values is often the key to happiness in relationships. And it’s critical to success if your job involves managing or influencing people.

Each person – continues Mark –  has made a fundamental decision about what is most important in life, and acts accordingly. And the weird thing is, other people have made different decisions to you. This is why they don’t always ‘get it’, no matter how many times you tell them. Once you realise this, a lot of the apparent weirdness about other people disappears. It becomes a lot easier to get on with them.

Get to know people
Look at them (without staring). Listen to them (without interrupting). Notice what brings them alive – when they become enthusiastic, animated, productive. What does this tell you about their personal values? And what about the times when they shut down, withdraw, give you lip service or start complaining? What does that tell you about their motivation?

Assume that everything they do and say makes complete sense
This frees you to look at them as they are, instead of as you think they should be. And once you do that, you can start to notice all kinds of things you didn’t see before.

Don’t stick labels on them
We’ve all been there. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t find yourself labelling people, especially when problems arise. It’s easy to see others as ‘difficult’, ‘lazy’, ‘obstructive’ and so on. The trouble is, this makes life more difficult for you. If someone is just plain ‘difficult’ then there’s nothing you can do to influence them, short of rebuilding their personality. But if you take the label off and ask yourself ‘what are they motivated by?’ Then you have an opportunity to use their personal motivations to influence them.

Trade in their currency
Think of personal values the same way as monetary currency. Why bother praising somebody who just wants to work on an interesting challenge? A pay rise won’t compensate someone for having their ideas blocked at every turn.
Try ‘trading in their currency’ by speaking to their personal values.

Experiment
Treat people the way you’ve always treated them and they will respond the way they’ve always responded. If you get stuck, ask yourself ‘What does this person least expect me to do?’. Try doing something new – and notice the results. Be creative.

Other motivations

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on November 18, 2008

That’s another snap at Mark McGuiness’s blog, which you can find here.
Extrinsic factors may have limited value as motivators but you can’t afford to ignore them — because they make excellent demotivators. Below some of these factors, which you – as a creative person – need to bear in mind, and possibly to implement in your profession.

Money: it is a clearly defined way of ‘keeping score’, measuring how highly regarded you are by your employer or your audience. Violinist Nigel Kennedy writes in his autobiography ‘I think if you’re playing music or doing art you can in some way measure the amount of communication you are achieving by how much money it is bringing in for you and for those around you’.

Recognition: the term ‘egoboo’ is used within the open source programming community, referring to the ‘ego boost’ you receive from being publicly credited for good work. So even though there’s no money involved, it’s not strictly true to say that open source programmers work ‘for nothing’. Poetry, or literature, is another creative medium with very little cash on offer, but which operates on a kind of ‘reputation economy’ — the higher your reputation, the more prestigious your publisher will be, the more magazines will want to take your work, the higher up the bill you will be on readings, etc.

Deadlines: as soon as you make a promise to someone else, you have an obligation to fulfil. Sometimes this can be just the push you need to get you through the wall of resistance that would otherwise lead to procrastination. ‘I know exactly what I need to do, but I’m more likely to do it if I’ve promised you do it by a certain date’. To get you going in the first place place, you sometimes need the extrinsic motivation of ‘deadline magic’.

There are probably other external motivations that come into the picture, but I believe the three above are the most essential ones. Also, very often they are those we encouter first, and only along the path other types of motivation may reveal to ourselves. (Such as those intrinsic, described in the previous post.)

From one to many

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on May 8, 2008

This was posted here by Derby-based Graham Bennett. It’s food for thought in relation to organization management. Not that you have to be CEO of something to make sense of it. it works also if you work alone. especially in the creative sector. Thank you, Graham.

Changing organisational cultures

At a presentation given by Kevin Williams (at the time Chief Executive of YMCA England) we were shown a photograph of the people responsible for running YMCAs in the 1960s. They were all grey suited men.

Kevin then went on to explain that, currently, the majority of the larger YMCAs are now managed by women.

Clearly this cannot be the whole story – so what other changes have also taken place which might support such a change in leadership? And what might we learn from this?

I began by drawing a line down the middle of the page, putting “Male” at the top of the left hand side, and “Female” at the top of the right hand side. The following is a list of changes which seem to have happened in the world with which we work, during the same period of time:
Male to Female

Heavy Industry to Service Industries

Machines to Ideas/Knowledge

Strength to Nurturing

Specialisms to Multi-tasking

Power to Influence

Hierarchies to Networks

Control to Encourage

Command to Persuade / “sell”

Mono-culture to Valuing Diversity

Facts to Intuition

Books to Internet

Vote to Buy

Membership to Shareholder or User Group

Grants/Subsidies to Social Enterprise

Competition to Collaboration for mutual benefit

As with all caricatures, this needs some careful handling – but much of the world we work in is undoubtedly moving this way, and we all need to be able to respond. Even where organisations still need to work to the left side, some of their activities will need to work to the right side if success is to be achieved.
It seems likely that some of us are more comfortable when working in the way shown on the left side, others to the right. The solution to this must surely be:
* awareness of the issues;
* recognition of the inherent tensions between people, disciplines, organisations, and sectors; and
* having the right teams or partnerships in place to cover all bases.

If, from where you see the world, you feel that there are any other issues which should be considered, or added to the list, I would be delighted to hear of them.

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Edgecraft

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on May 3, 2008

Ok, I got a crush on Seth Godin’s insights. This one you can find here. It’s about Edgecraft, which – according to him – is an iterative process that is much easier for an organization to embrace than brainstorming. Off we go:

It’s a mistake to try to champion much beyond your reach.

There are hundreds of available edges, things you can add to, subtract from or do to your product or service. Find an edge and go all the way to it. Going partway is time-consuming and expensive—and it doesn’t work very well. Going all the way to the edge is the only way to jolt the user into noticing what you’ve done. If they notice you, they’re one step closer to talking about you.

It’s all marketing now. The organizations that win will be the ones that realize that all they do is create things worth talking about.

And another little bit from the same book:

It’s not that people somehow lose their ability to be creative when they’re in an environment in which they feel safe. It’s that they ignore the creative ideas that naturally occur to them and fight the changes championed by others.

They like things the way they are, and they can’t resist the urge to defend the status quo. The challenge of the champion is to help people who are already creative to take advantage of their talent. By selling the dream and fighting the status quo, we can free people who have been lulled into a false sense of security.

And again:

You only have one boss, and if she doesn’t believe you can do it or that it’s worth doing, you’re stuck. If you can’t make the fulcrum work in the eyes of that key decision maker, your work is much more difficult. But there are hundreds of sources of capital in the outside world, and when you approach them as an entrepreneur, you’re more likely to have the posture of the champion. They want to believe that you’re the person who can do this, and thus you’re more likely to persuade them that you’re the guy.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the answer is to go outside and start something new. It means, instead, that you and your boss (or your co-workers, or your employees) should sit down together and figure out which parts of the fulcrum are out of whack.

Dramatic changes. Things that may very well be unattainable. Things that require not incremental improvements or changes, but significant quantum leaps in the way you organize, create and deliver what you do. If you can’t find a scary edge, then you haven’t found an edge, have you?

No use going to an edge that all your competition is going to as well. That’s not an edge. That’s the middle. Growth only comes from the leap to the remarkable.

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But are you really serious about it?

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on May 2, 2008

Like the one that follow (and the one before), this is an article by Seth Godin; this time you can find it here. I almost bought his book…but before you rush off, here’s some interesting highlights:

I did a gig in New York today about the Dip and it went really well. Afterward, someone asked me a question about his new business.

I asked back, “if you accomplish that, will you be seen by your audience as the best in the world, or will you be seen as doing your best?”

He didn’t have to answer. He got it.

If you’re doing your best, only your AYSO soccer coach cares. If you’re the best in the world, the market cares. The secret, if you have limited resources (don’t we all) is to make ‘world’ small enough that you can actually accomplish that.

Obviously, this approach is applicable to just about any idea-based product, whether it’s consulting or clothes:

1. Find the core market

2. Obviously the otaku (Seth’s name for the ‘surplus’ in things)

3. make it easy to sample

4. Make it easy to share. And hope it hits the critical mass.

That seems common sense, but it’s common sense that’s not so common. Designing anything for the masses is silly. why? because the masses don’t buy stuff any more. The edges do.

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Short. No attention left

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on May 2, 2008
This is an article by Seth Godin available here:
Short books, short shows, short commercials, short ideas…
In 1960, the typical stay for a book on the New York Times bestseller list was 22 weeks. In 2006, it was two. Forty years ago, it was typical for three novels a year to reach #1. Last year, it was 23.

Advise and Consent won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. It’s 640 pages long. On Bullshit was a bestseller in 2005; it’s 68 pages long.

Commercials used to be a minute long, sometimes two. Then someone came up with the brilliant idea of running two per minute, then four. Now there are radio ads that are less than three seconds long.
It’s not an accident that things are moving faster and getting smaller. There’s just too much to choose from. With a million or more books available at a click, why should I invest the time to read all 640 pages of Advise and Consent when I can get the idea after 50 pages?

Audible.com offers more than 30,000 titles. If an audiobook isn’t spectacular, minute to minute, it’s easier to ditch it and get another one than it is to slog through it. After all, it’s just bits on my iPod.

Of course, this phenomenon isn’t limited to intellectual property. Craigslist.org is a free classified-ad listing service. A glance at their San Francisco listings shows more than 33,000 ads for housing. That means that if an apartment doesn’t sound perfect after just a sentence or two, it’s easy to glance down at the next ad.

The end.

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Coaching your career

Posted in Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on April 22, 2008

Excerpt of article appeared on the Guardian, written by Lynsey Mellows:

If you are contemplating a change in career or feeling stagnant in your job, employing a professional career coach maybe just what you need to help you make an informed decision about your future.

Career coaching has experienced an explosive growth in recent years. Not to be mistaken for life coaching, which concentrates on personal development, career coaching is all about equipping individuals with practical guidance on how to move up, across or into a completely new field altogether.

Traditionally an employee’s career path has been left in the hands of a human resources department, but with more and more individuals taking control of their careers the role of the coach is becoming paramount […]
“Some clients want to move on from where they are now, but are unclear about what is the right move for them. Others know exactly what they want, but need help in convincing employers to hire them and some clients want help in managing a challenging situation at work,” said Corinne [Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management]

“We aim to help people understand what we call their ‘career capital’ – in other words, their transferable skills, knowledge, abilities and personal strengths. People massively underestimate their abilities. We use this knowledge to help them explore and decide on their options and then market themselves effectively to employers.”

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Knowledge

Posted in shortEssays/cortiSaggi [English/Italian], Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on December 10, 2007

Is it really true that knowledge is something superior to other ‘goods’ of life? That is – by far – the most desirable of things? Having the access to an item may represent an advantage; even if is not a goal per se, but rather a tool. The ultimate aim of mankind is happiness, not goods: on this we might all agree. Now, what about knowledge? It seems that is the only good which don’t bring, along with its satisfaction, some disadvantages.

Let’s make two examples: in medicine, for instance: the fact that humans can cure themselves from flu, it’s definitely an advantage. But it also bring the need to cure themselves from any other type of illnesses, even those that once where not contemplated, those that we didn’t care about, because they could not be considered in terms of advantage/disadvantage, but as facts of life. Now, the fact that we can save our life from flu brings also the need to save ourselves from all other types of illness. If we cannot satisfy this need, we perceived it as a disadvantage. The threshold of happiness has been moved forward.

Same thing with transportation: when cars didn’t exist, they couldn’t solve all the problems, which they solve today. But now a car has become the base, without which one has a disadvantage. A car is, so to say, the base to be happy (take it not literally), and once achieved this basic need, we will look forward to ‘step up’ to the next one, maybe a bigger car, or maybe two cars in the family, and so on. This is valid for all the items and services of technical progress: from the satisfaction of a need, springs up immediately other needs to satisfy that we didn’t have before.

The degree of happiness doesn’t depend on which step of the social ladder we are: everyone can feel happy or sad at whatever social level. We cannot say that humanity in the past was happier or sadder than today. Reading, for instance, the ancient texts, it seems that the level of happiness was more or less the same, even with far less items and technological progress.

The fact is that happiness is achievable only in the brief moment of acquisition of an item, or a service: when one was ill, and is cured; when one needed a car, and got it. The only brief lapse of happiness is attainable in the passage from one state to the other, and not from the fact of being in one state. After that, we immediately start to perceive the need of going further onto the next level. That means, the satisfaction of a need brings always the disadvantage of creating another need.

Regarding our first concern, knowledge, it seems that it is immune from such a thing: to know something is a linear process, it doesn’t bring to us the t unbearable feeling of having to progress to the next level. But it does something else. If it’s true that the less one knows, the better s/he lives (because the more one knows, the more s/he perceives the bad things of life), it’s also true that knowledge is something that once achieved, it cannot be undone. To put it in simple terms: we cannot go back to a previous state of ignorance, because we don’t want to. Knowledge is an irreversible (linear) process: who knows, wants not to know less. Nobody wants to decrease his or her level of knowledge, even if it would bring a major happiness. We can try for ourselves: let’s think about a happy person with less knowledge, less acculturated than we are, and then let’s ask ourselves if we would exchange with him or her: we wouldn’t. We are not able to renounce to our knowledge.

No matter its relationship with happiness, knowledge is a progressive entity, it’s ‘oriented’, so to say: it’s not neutral; humans don’t want to renounce to it, whatever it brings along with, even unhappiness. The good thing, on the other hand, is that it doesn’t originate other needs: it’s a type of acquisition, which is more stable. But as soon as we know more, we would never accept not to have it.

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