Test Lab

Wednesday October 19


Library Pods, CSM


Speaker 1 Sasha Burkhanova, The Ethics of independent art curating as ‘care of the self’ (CSM)


Abstract: My research introduces a perspective on the formation of curatorial ethics in the conditions when a fixed professional code is impossible. As the notion of ‘independency’ in curatorial practice designated the arrival of a curator as an author, it was followed by her self-alienation from the well-defined responsibilities, subordinated to the imperative of an art museum. Liberating itself from institutional affiliation, curatorial practice automatically left behind the prescribed code of ethics, which previously orchestrated one’s engagement in the processes of selection of new works for the public collection, maintenance of conditions for their preservation, contribution to the discourse in a particular “art-historical” fashion, and anonymous organisation of the exhibition display.


The conceptual and practical challenge that emerges here constitutes the state of “infinite responsibility” on the overlap of the conflicting interests of artworks/artists, publics and institutions — and it is the independent curator who is assumed to be responsible for balancing these demands. However, instead of treating the said conflict of responsibilities as an unwanted condition to be minimised by a means of curatorial engagement, I suggest to approach it as an organic and necessary environment for an independent curator to function as an ethical subject par excellence. In conditions of missing authority to control one’s execution, and unprecedented work scenarios that nevertheless require one’s informed decisions — a curator’s “care of the others” (that is, acknowledging demands of publics, artworks, artists, institutions) would be thus primarily grounded in an adaptable strategy of “care of the self”. That is, in enabling immanent ethical experience — as opposed to the one constructed by a unified professional code, and rethinking morality and the dualism of right and wrong actions.

In one’s perceived internal aspiration for ethical engagement in the presence of the other — that is not be confused with affirmation of the imposed external demands, coming from the other — the entry questions are posed: How to sustain flexibility and openness before it turns into auto-destruction? How intensively can the process of adaptation run? How to know that one reached the threshold of own sustainability? How can one’s self-adjustment be handled with care?


Speaker 2 Mahtab Hanna, Silent Protest: the questionable existence, role and impact of political jewellery in Iran (CSM)


Abstract: My study is concerned with exploring the core fields of enquiry: Can a jeweller be called a messenger? Does society deem it necessary to allow communication through a static inanimate object that communicates a clear vision, a definitive symbol of a movement or does it create a gap between the messenger and those at whom the message is aimed? Can silent protest, therefore, be developed by the way a wearer adorns the item of jewellery, as well as how and by whom the jewellery is made.


Identity, gender and consciousness are central to the theme of political jewellery because explicit or implicit empowerment forms part of the strategies that can be used to convert people to/from particular movements within politics. The research envelopes how the beliefs of many can be divided into segments, namely those who have invented those messages, the patrons of the jewellery, then those whose job is to proclaim and eulogise the meaning according to a scripted message, and, finally, the consumers, be they monopolists of thought or granters of freedom of thinking. Whether it is a totalitarian state or regime, the politics and counter politics of jewellery is akin to the official as well as unofficial representation of power and struggle.