Galleries and Museums may be accused of being elitist and of furthering their own narrow view of what may be considered ‘worthy’ yet the spaces themselves are still a necessity. You cannot begin to appreciate the scale or beauty of an image until you have the chance to see it first hand. Just take the Mona Lisa for example; this iconic painting is surely recognisable by almost the whole ‘civilized’ world yet when you see the object itself it is only then that you can begin to appreciate it’s aura (see Walter Benjamin’s Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction for his thoughts on this). Jason Landry makes a cogent argument as to why they are still relevant – the opportunities they offer for exposure, for community and communication as well as the physical space to be able to enjoy the artwork is something unavailable elsewhere. Yet Jonathan Jones argues vociferously that photographs have no place on a gallery wall. “They look stupid”. This point of view beggars belief in this day and age that we are still having the same argument of whether Photography can be considered art. You are left to wonder what he values as being worthy enough. Sean O’Hagan replies a few weeks later with a carefully penned argument as to why Jones’ opinion is flawed. Jones states that we would be just as happy to view pictures on tablet computer, and while I must admire the quality of these electronic screens and the way they beautify my photography – there is still no replacement for seeing an actual print. Besides which there is the range of photographic based art; whether that be mixed-media, traditional techniques (cyanotype, gum bichromate, collodian) or unique prints (Polaroid) that would loose so much of their aura by being trapped within this electronic frame.
In the majority of cases a curator would be responsible for the research, setup and publicity copy for many exhibitions. They would need to be knowledgeable about their subject, responsible for it’s handling and ethical in the treatment of the works. They will probably be constrained to a certain extent by the ethos of the gallery or museum where the exhibition is sited, but it is hoped they would be unbiased in the representation of the artists involved. They would need to contextualise the work historically and contemporarily and be descriptive and explanatory in how they write about the works.
Benjamin, Walter & Jennings, M. Doherty, B, & Levin, T. (eds) (2008) The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducability & Other Writings on New Media (Cambridge: Harvard University Press)
Landry. J http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-landry/why-galleries-are-importa_b_4074202.html
Jones, J. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/nov/13/why-photographs-dont-work-in-art-galleries
O’Hagan, S. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/11/photography-is-art-sean-ohagan-jonathan-jones