Curatorview [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 Curatorview 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”.

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.

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?

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)

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.

The new Photographer

Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on July 2, 2009

From 19 to 21 June I have participated – in representation of QUAD Derby and Intellect Books Bristol, at the first UK National Photography Symposium in Manchester, organized by Redeye – The Photography Network, in collaboration with the University of Bolton and Arts Council England.

Paul Herrman, the Director of Redeye who brainchild the symposium, held an interesting session in relation to the figure of the ‘contemporary photographer’. First, he highlighted the big changes in relation to photography occurred in the last decade:
– camera ownership – digital imaging
– internet
– education
– photography in the art world

Along these changes, a transition happened also in terms of old photographer / new photographer:

The old practitioner:                                      The new practitioner:

– primacy of technique                                   – primacy of ideas
– specialization                                                 – complementary range of works
– selected audience/circles of admirers      – international audience/virtual circles

Today’s ‘top photographers’ present therefore the following features:

1. Interest, knowledge and reading in relation of the photographic economy and the world at large: ‘if your picture are not good enough, you don’t read enough.’
2. Marketing, talking and writing
3. Development of ‘the voice’, that is, differentiate oneself (the famous line ‘I can/can’t see you in these pictures…’ often heard in portfolio reviews)
4. Building relationships in time with curators, buyers and other professionals
5. Work ethic and good business (with the right balance of copyright and free licence use)
6. Long terms commitment (minimum of five-six years of practice before ‘getting’ anywhere), and motivation: both clients and professionals need to know that a photographer is going to be there in ten years time
7. Craft and ideas – research opportunities and deliver results.

Furthermore, Herrman listed ’twenty things one can do to get closer to be a top photographer’ (besides talent and commitment, I guess):

1. Going to openings – where people want to hear your ideas
2. Going to festivals (only three or four in the UK, but many abroad)
3. Business link (GVA – Great Value Added is not the only criteria)
4. Gettting some trading (agencies, galleries, etc)
5. Social media (internet at large helps to know people)
6. Metadata, absolute crucial to caption and keyword the work
7. Project making: a strong enough project to get teeth onto, something that resonates with people
8. Partnerships/collectives such as getting together with a writer, or a musician, etc. to realize a project
9. Website/blog, using to get ideas out and update regularly
10. Slideshow; collaborating with someone else, like sound people and through a narrative structure, to create a slideshow and show in programmes and venues such as BBC Big Screens around the UK (desperate to get good content)
11. Preparing portfolio
12. Marketing material such cards, etc.
13. Writing, important aspect
14. Giving a talk; it helps to get your ideas together
15. Applying for a grant; criteria to assess proposal are published on the Arts Council website; core matter is the audience development and which bits of work will accomplish that. Writing a good grant application is part of the job as photographers
16. Print sales
17. Exhibiting wherever one can (not whenever, I’d say…); getting used to the idea of exhibit
18. Entry and checking competition
19. Email/newsletter every 6 months, to let the network know what one has been done, etc.
20. ‘You have to be burning and you have to have your shit together’

In photography, but possibly in all arts disciplines (and non-disciplines), if one has to say something, it’s got to be said in a manner that is a) accessible b) that matters and c) that adds something to what have been said before. Question, transform, exchange. To be interested in photography, one has to be interested in the world.


Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on November 5, 2008

Managing Intrinsic Motivation. That’s the subtitle of a post that Mark McGuinness published here.

The article is for those who need to manage creative people, not precisely for those who are. But – here comes the twist – it’s precisely what a creative professional needs to apply to her/himself too, no matter if you are your own boss. Even more effective, I’d say.

There we go:

By definition, intrinsic motivation works through spontaneity, pleasure and fascination — none of which can be served up to order. No wonder managing creative people is often described as ‘herding cats’, notoriously wilful and independent creatures. But if you can’t control it, you can coax it to some extent. Here are a few suggestions:

Set them (yourself) a challenge

Remember, creatives love a challenge. How can you make the brief more difficult? More inspiring? More extreme?

Define the (your) goal clearly

If there’s one thing worse than a boring or easy brief, it’s a vague one. ‘Write a story’ is terrible. ‘Write a superhero story’ isn’t much better. ‘Write a Batman story’ at least gives me something to work with. ‘Write a Batman story in which his identity is exposed’, or ‘where he lets himself and the city down’, or ‘where he loses all his gadgets and has to rely on his wits’ – now I’ve got something to get my teeth into.

Eliminate distractions and interruptions

Help them concentrate. Don’t interrupt them — or let others interrupt them — unless it’s important AND urgent. As far as possible, help them ‘batch’ meetings, conversations, and day-to-day tasks so that they don’t keep interfering with focused work. Whatever distractions arise, remind them that the work itself is their primary responsibility.

Match the (your) work to the worker (yourself)

Make it your business to know everyone on the team, including the kind of work they love to do. Whenever possible, give them tasks that suit their talents. Their reward will be more job satisfaction. Yours will be better results.

Let them (yourself) get on with it

This is a tricky one. Creatives hate being micromanaged and told what to do every step of the way. But ultimately you’re accountable for the work, so you need to make sure they are delivering on brief. If you’re a creative yourself, you’ll have to deal with the added temptation to show them how you would do it, and the fact that they may approach it in a very different way. There are no easy answers, but it helps if you’re very clear about what you are asking them to make, and your criteria for success, and then leave how to do it up to them.

Reward (your) behaviours, not results

At the US software developer SAS, managers are trained to reward those responsible for new initiatives before it becomes obvious whether the initiative has succeeded or failed. Why? Because their aim is to foster a culture of innovation. If they only rewarded successful projects, employees would be much more careful about proposing and acting on new ideas. This way, the company benefits from many more ideas and people who are more prepared to take a risk and try things out.

What makes a business successful?

Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on May 11, 2008

This is an article by Tracy Pepper you can find on the CIN website here (thanks Patrick for the kindness):

The question I am asked most often as a coach is what makes a business successful. Every business is of course different but for me the essentials are:

• Having a passion for what you do – if you love what you do your enthusiasm will come across when communicating to potential customers that will buy your product or service.

• Create a Vision – picture what your business will be like in 12 months time – create a collage or write down in detail describing the various areas, what you are selling – to whom- how much you are earning, where you are working etc. By creating this rich picture you are rehearsing in your mind your plan.

• Know how to communicate what it is you do/make/provide- when asked – “what is it that you do” don’t say I am an architect say I am an architect that specialises in modernist city centre designs, or I hand-make handbags with unique designs that appeal to most teenage girls.

• Know your customers – know who your product/ service will appeal to and target that market first. Do research if you can to confirm your view – sometimes you are wrong.

• Have a business plan – it is essential that you get what you want to achieve out of your head and down onto paper. Once it’s written down it takes you a step nearer to committing to do it. It also gives you the confidence and clarity of taking steps that move you forward. I will cover this area in more detail in future columns.

• Network and get as much help as you can – being part of networks like CIN give people working on their own and small companies the opportunity to hear from others the challenges and solutions they face. Mostly your challenges are similar to others. Networks are great places to explore funding opportunities and employment issues.

• Have patience and persistence – in business things can move slower than you would like and rarely happen first time of asking. Don’t give up at the first or even second delay.

Finally an old cliché – enjoy what you do – we spend far too much time working to not!

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Time management. In 5 steps

Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on May 2, 2008

I’m talking here about Time. With capital T, since it’s the thing we mostly miss in life.

Especially if you’re self-employed, or you’re under pressure in your organization and/or familiar situation, Time is more than an essential idea in our life. Although is a convention, it’s felt like no other things.

So it’s worth to find a simple way to manage it, the most we can. it doesn’t mean being hyper-organized and hyper-anxious about organizing yours and other people’s life, but rather being aware how we spend our time.

I’m drawing some considerations from Mark McGuiness, a coach who’s running the insightful blog whishful thinking; boiling down and presenting them according to my experience. I hope that Mark won’t mind 😉

Ok, off we go:

1. Prioritise important things, but not urgent.

The trick is not allowing anything important become urgent. Do it with a schedule, prepare a timetable for what is going to come, try to spread important things over a week, or a month.

2. Ring-fence a bit of time, every day, for important goals and dreams in your life.

30 minutes in daytime (during your break, your lunch, or within your working hours); and 30 minutes in the evening (when you come home, after dinner, or before going to bed). Do not demand lots from this short sessions; adopt an easy attitude, like “I’m not going to work on that letter/application/project; I’ll just open the file and have a look at it…”

3. Reply only to yesterday’s e-mails.

Set an ‘_action’ folder in your inbox; put them all the email you receive during today’s work, and don’t reply to any of them. Deal only with one day (yesterday) bunch of e-mails, and it becomes manageable, because it’s limited, and you know in advance it’s limited.

4. Sort everything you have to do (job, family, interests, passions, volunteer work) in 5 folders/buckets/trays.

– the ‘_action’ folder of your e-mail inbox

– family and house

– job commitments

– passions and interests

– friends and volunteer commitments

This ‘buckets’ allow yourself to get off your head the seemingly infinite number of things you have to do. You’ll get through them day-by-day, finishing them and changing them over time, and keeping them in the right place at the right moment: you’ll never feel again that overwhelming sensation of not being able to keep the pace. Review the ‘trays’ every week, like 30 minutes on Saturday morning.

5. (and last) There so inspiration to wait for: only a lot of perspiration to do.

That means, you don’t wait for the right chance to do something; you create the conditions for that something to happen. You do what you ought to do (to yourself and to others); then let happen what might happen.

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How to change career

Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on April 17, 2008

This article appeared on Times Online:

Most of us gaze in wonder at those bold souls who leap from career to career, but it’s not as difficult as it appears

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On Project Making

Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on November 12, 2007

I’ll try here to outline a few basic facts for setting a creative project, like an exhibition, a research, or a writing piece. Being just only an outline, each single point has to be developed, broadened and deepened as much as you can, and linked with your attitude and experience in dealing with the subject. Let’s start:

1. Take upon only ONE project at the time. You might have many brilliant ideas, but make an effort in asking yourself which are the more urgent and important for you, and which, for instance, can bring you a financial fee, or a further step in a commission.

2. Once you have chosen the subject and the form your project will have, compare and couple your expectations with A) your budget and B) your deadline. Reverse your idea: money and time constraints are not limits, rather possibilities. They are powerful tools to get you focused.

3. To structure your project, you must go from the simplicity of the original idea (probably just an intuition, or a single-line image), to a whole complexity of inputs: lateral thoughts, external links, people feedback, practical and intellectual consequences, additional researches, etc. This process – to be contained in your time-frame – will make you relatively confident of your knowledge, and will give you different perspectives on the subject. After that, you have to re-compress your material into one, single, high-impact simplicity of expression, in which your work re-gain a goal within a system.

4. Execute your project to a completion, including details, feedback and final evaluation, within the reasonable time-set you planned in advance.

5. In your execution:

– Use simple words, in a direct way. No jargon.

– Be synthetic in your communication to partners and public. Attention requires brevity.

– Make an effort to TELL something, not just to present it. Be sure the structure of your project is clear and follows a logical course, or give the tools to understand if it’s illogical. No concepts or displays understandable only to their creators.

– Do not underestimate your public. Give them a topic which is valid and open to the dialogue, with you and among them. Offer great value for the audience’s time and interest. They could easily not come back if you are delivering poor content and/or form, and you’ll never get them again.

– Offer the audience something to bring home with them. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or cutting-edge: even a well-design leaflet, a postcard, an Internet address, a printed title on a string of paper. A bit of marketing doesn’t harm anybody, without exaggeration.

6. When you approach the next project, understand it as a whole body of knowledge, and not as a task, or assignment you have to make. This is fundamental also for activity like administration, fund-raising, or preparatory work.

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Posted in Tools.Coaching by Curatorview on November 10, 2007

This is something I have written on ten pages A4, taped to the wall opposite my desk, to create a vertical totem. First of all, it’s not mine. the laws of simplicity have been nurtured and published in a marvellously-crafted little book by John Maeda, ex-MIT design guru.

But it’s not to talk about him that I started this post. It’s to give you a precious tool, the first of the series to come, which goes like that: do simplify whatever can get simplified.

At the cost of seeming banal, do take the path of simplicity in whatever you are doing, or planning to do. You’ll always be in time to complicate the matter, personally or through someone else. If you want to get close (at least) to achieve what you are planning, cut the 30% of your planned expectations, and consequently reduce to at least 50% your planned actions.

This is not a call for banality. It’s a call for concreteness. And getting concrete, means having results. Having results, means producing consequences. Producing consequences, means injecting stimuli for another projects, and future achievements. Not to mention that, having finished a work, means getting paid. Sounds good, uh?

Here are the 10 laws on a string: for more details, visit the lawsofsimplicity website:

First round – the basics to get simple:

1. Reduce: either shrink, hide, or embody (the simplest way to achive simplicity is through thoughtful reduction: when in doubt, just remove – carefully). Lessen what you can and conceal everything else without losing the sense of inherent value.

2. Organize: sort, label, integrate, prioritize (organization makes a system of many appear fewer: and working with fewer – objects, concepts, functions – makes life simpler). Everything is important, but knowing where to start is the critical first step.

3. Time: again – shrink, hide, embody (savings in time feels like simplicity: this is really about reducing time). When time is saved – or appears to have been – the complex feels simpler.

Second round – here comes the hard work:

4. Learn: basics are the beginning, repeat yourself often, avoid creating desperation, inspire with examples, never forget to repeat yourself (to easing the process of understanding: relate – translate – surprise!). Difficult tasks seem easier when they are ‘need to know’ rather than ‘nice to know’, so connect deeply to the greater context of learning and life.

5. Differences: simplicity and complexity need each other (acknowledging contrast helps to identify qualities that we desire). Figuring out the rhythm of how simplicity and complexity occur in time and space holds the key.

6. Context: what lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral (ambience: that which appears to be of immediate relevance may not be nearly as important compared to everything else around). When there is less, we appreciate everything much more.

Third round – if you are aspire at changing the world (almost):

7. Emotion: more emotions are better than less (just the right kind of more: ‘feel, and feel for’). Achieving clarity isn’t difficult. The true challenge is achieving comfort.

8. Trust: in simplicity we trust (lean back, and trust the water. And just enjoy something). Trust unquestionably, but be open to undo-ing that trust whenever deserved.

9. Failure: some things can never be made simple (knowing that simplicity is elusive in certain cases is an opportunity to make more constructive use of your time in the future, instead of chasing after an apparent impossible goal). One man’s failed experiment in simplicity can be another man’s success as a beautiful form of complexity.

A final Intuition:

10. The one: simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful

(which may be ‘coupled’ with 4 more keys in attempting simplicity, such as: more appears like less by removing it far away / openness simplifies complexity / power: use less, gain more / technology, as professions, can disable the average person.)

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