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Approaches to Feminist and Queer Curating

Lecturer: Laura Castagnini

Course dates: 12 February + 26 February 2022, 10am–2pm (CET)

How do you curate as a feminist? How can you “queer” exhibition-making? How can we apply feminist and queer methodologies to our everyday working practices, given the practical and ideological constraints of the museum?

This course will encourage participants to explore these questions using examples from their own curatorial practice, past present or future. We will imagine new ways to challenge the historical absence of marginalised voices and critically engage with the way that principles of diversity and inclusion currently operate in art institutions.

Participants will examine new ways of thinking about exhibition-making and collection building that move beyond corrective approaches, from Helen Molesworth’s model of “elective mothers” to Nikki Sullivan and Craig Middleton’s notion of “queer ethics”. These suggested readings will be introduced by the course leader followed by reflection on examples from her own practice, from solo shows of female artists (Lubaina Himid, Tate Britain, London, 2019) to thematic group exhibitions (Backflip: Feminism and Humour in Contemporary Art, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne, 2013) as well as current exhibition history research (Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh and touring,1991-2). Thereafter, the group will collectively develop critical tools of self-assessment that can be applied to their own projects. The course will encourage critical self-reflection and provide a supportive space for participants to develop thoughtful and nuanced approaches to feminist and queer curating.

Laura Castagnini is a curator and writer interested in the histories of feminism and their current articulations, especially as they intersect with the politics of sexuality and race, and their expression in modern and contemporary art. She is currently Curator at Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, where she is currently working on several projects including Angela Tiatia’s Ian Potter Moving Image Commission Liminal Persuasions. Prior to ACMI, Laura worked in as Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary British Art at Tate in London, where she curated monographic displays of Lubaina Himid and Liliane Lijn as well as assisted on major exhibitions including Frank Bowling’s first retrospective and All too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life. In this role she also played an active role in diversifying the collection, leading on major acquisitions such as Maud Sulter and Claudette Johnson, as well as conducting collection research into the representation of LGBT+ artists. She holds a Master of Arts (Art History) from the University of Melbourne and has received numerous grants and awards for her research on feminist and queer art, including most recently a Research Continuity Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre to trace an exhibition history of the UK touring exhibition Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs (1991-2).