Michael Wilson- I think that one must oppose curation completely.

Michael Wilson is a cultural producer in the Bay Area..















At the most basic level, branding and entrepreneurialism have to be resisted. They may be the most basic conditions for advancing one’s career, but they atomize—isolating and placing us into competition with others. This mechanism works against the sort of large-scale collaboration that might produce an ‘International’ within the art context. Perhaps the best use of ‘the show’ is as a temporary production platform for building the party (ie, using the free rent/space and a trivial materials fee to find each other). In isolation, it’s a poor engine of revolution—the art world just doesn’t have that much money for artists—but if these efforts can connect…

The securely employed can expropriate from their institutions. They can funnel grant monies into extra-academic efforts. Those of us outside the institutions can form networks of solidarity. I’m interested in forming networks of solidarity through understanding and learning to move beyond the literal means of general circulation—the supply chain. Let’s develop cultures of infiltration and educate ourselves in the ports, on the rails and in the distribution centers. We have to learn how stop the flow of capital. This is the real task of a radical aesthetic economy.

I think that one must oppose curation completely. We have to refuse the impulse to become managers of others—despite the cultural and economic pressure to do so. This is the singular issue. We have to oppose the opportunistic mediocrities that tend to surface between waves of general unrest—they build the new recuperating mechanisms on the backs of fallen comrades. And we have to remember to dream together, because that’s the only way to communize, rise up, or resist in any meaningful way.


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2 Responses to Michael Wilson- I think that one must oppose curation completely.

  1. Valerie Kilmer says:

    thank you for this post. I found it interesting and challenging. What is most challenging is that you offer demands but no paths forward. Resistance has never been enough. And while I agree with your sentiment, where does it leave us? What you have written is itself contributing to a brand – if not of this blog than of yourself. The opportunity we have been offered to read your work it is itself a matter of curation.

    I do not mean to highlight the inherent hypocrisies of your argument, I mean to suggest that all attempts at “resistance” are messy, carrying with them elements of the forms they resist.

    I like your critique, but what do you propose?

  2. Michael Wilson says:

    I address the notion of a path forward in the second paragraph. If you want to know more about that sort of activity, go to http://empire-logistics.org. There, I just contributed to another (anti)brand. ;) Yes, we all select things and omit other things when thinking, speaking, blogging, etc.—but my point was to challenge the notion of *professionalized* curation. I think that the figure of the professional curator (and the gallerist, more explicitly) serves as an intermediary between the ruling elite and the cultural producers in much the same way that management functions in a corporate context. If I believe in self-management (and I do), then I must believe that artists can self-organize to present their work collectively. I think that JOAAP has provided a platform for that sort of activity for years and that’s why I responded to their invitation. Also, if the piece was an attempt at “branding”, i’m sure it fails utterly—as I denounce the very class of people (curators) to whom my”brand” should appeal, no?
    I’m not pure and I think that messiness is intrinsic to good cultural production. Still, I think that our decisions about how we make and present our work are crucial in building the *real movement*.

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