Photograph: Ronald Kolb © ZHdK

Dorothee Richter, what is Curating?

In our programmes, we understand curating or the curatorial not as a philosophical concept but as a practice that is deeply involved in the politics of display, the politics of site, the politics of transfer and translation, and regimes of visibility.

Curating exists at the interface between the spatial, the theoretical, and the visual.

Curating produces subjects in the sense that each curatorial instance consists of a media conglomerate representing an invocation.

Curating is a discursive formation as outlined by Michel Foucault; it produces inclusions and exclusions, it rules over right or wrong (“good art” or “bad art”), it produces constellations such as discourse communities and institutions, as well as material conditions (production, budgets, etc.).

Curating takes place with artworks (which often already represent complex situations), but also without: curating a panel discussion, an archive, a social situation, a website, etc. produces meaning by selecting and combining cultural artefacts in space and time.

Curating means to negotiate.

Curating should not to reduced to a form of administration, as implied by various degree courses and further training programmes in curating.

Like everything else in the field of art, curating is always and unavoidably linked with the art market.

Like every cultural utterance, curating is only able to interfere in society as an active player and if this meaning-producing activity cooperates with other social emergencies and demands.

Find out more about the nine theses at:
In this section, experts from around ZHdK offer brief reflections on key terms and concepts in the arts and culture. The steadily expanding glossary is available online:
Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter ( is head of the ZHdK MAS in Curating. She is also head of the PhD in Practice in Curating Programme, a cooperation between the University of Reading and ZHdK.
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