Gough, Tim (2009) Cura. In: Chaplin, Sarah and Stara, Alexandra, (eds.) Curating architecture and the city. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 93-102. (AHRA Critiques: Critical studies in architectural humanities) ISBN 9780415489836


As has been quoted, Seneca gives us the following aphorism in his last letter: unius bonum natura perficit, dei scilicet, alterius cura, hominis (Seneca, Ep124) 'the good of the one, namely God, is fulfilled by his Nature; but that of the other, man, is fulfilled by care (cura)' One paradox of our increasingly virtual existence is that the curatorial tendencies of the late twentieth century in relation to architecture and the city, influenced by archaeology, far from reducing the significance of the physical have tended to reify the material existence of built artefacts. Neither is it clear that this is merely the last stance of an outmoded ontology. It will be asserted that the physicality and materiality of the archaeologist - the exemplary materialist - is, after all, more virtual than virtuality 'itself'; and the impulses which allow the conventionally virtual to work effectively also give place for a more extreme materialist 'virtuality'. Clearly this assertion only makes sense spoken from a situation where our perfection is characterised as something like care. Care, here, is both: ~ that which allows our curatorial aspect to occur ~ that 'idea' evinced through the history of concrete acts of curatorship, widely defined This paper will take as a clue to this experience of care the recent (and unique) curatorial strategy at Matt's Gallery, East London. The gallery, a low-value rented space, consists of two large columnated warehouse-type rooms, each with windows along one wall. Each exhibition is curated primarily by the artist themselves, with some collaboration with the gallery owner or other curators. Whilst an exhibition is proceeding in one of the spaces, the artist has three months to work in the adjacent space to bring the exhibition to the time of the opening. Exhibitions rhythmically move from one space to the other. We will remark particularly on those artists, for instance, Nelson, Robertson, Gunning, who work with the space in such a way as to project the curatorship, by means of an extended notion of 'installation', into the time of the exhibition itself. They do this, it will be argued, by calling on those who come to these spaces themselves to curate - to care - in participatory fashion. It will be shown: ~ that this curatorial experience has analogies in respect of the built environment ~ how this might impact on the in situ curation of cities and places ~ and how display and the museological imagination is caught in an everyday and not-so-everyday curation of urban and other places Finally, the paper will outline how this curatorship of the city and architecture affects and effects time.

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