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Curatorial Activism

Towards an Ethics of Curating

Maura Reilly


A manifesto for change in the art world

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Despite decades of postcolonial, feminist, anti-racist and queer activism and theorizing, the art world continues to exclude ‘Other’ artists – those who are women, of colour and LGBTQ. Indeed, the more closely one examines the numbers, the more glaring it becomes that white, Euro-American, heterosexual, privileged and, above all, male artists continue to dominate the art world. The fight for gender and race equality continues apace.

Focusing on themes of feminism, race and sexuality, Curatorial Activism examines the pioneering exhibitions that have broken down boundaries and demonstrated that new approaches are possible, from Nochlin’s ‘Women Artists’ at the LACMA in the mid-1970s to Martin’s ‘Carambolages’ in 2016 at the Grand Palais in Paris. By exposing both the disparities and inclusive solutions, Reilly addresses the urgent need in the contemporary art world for curatorial strategies that provide alternatives to exclusionary models of collecting and display. In so doing, she provides an invaluable source of information for current thinkers and, in a world dominated by visual culture, a vital source of inspiration for today’s ever-expanding new generation of curators. Lucy Lippard, the renowned activist and early champion of feminist art, contributes a foreword.

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'A fascinating, well-told account … the art world would do well to heed the arguments of this provocative and informative book'
Art Quarterly

Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 23.0 x 17.5 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Illustrations: 107

Publication date: 8 March 2018

ISBN: 9780500239704

Contents List

Foreword • Preface • 1. What is Curatorial Activism? • 2. Resisting Masculinism and Sexism • 3. Tackling White Privilege and Western-Centrism • 4. Challenging Heterocentrism and Lesbo-Homophobia • 5. A Call to Arms: Strategies for Change

About the Author

Maura Reilly is the founding curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she organized the critically acclaimed Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art, co-curated with Linda Nochlin.

Lucy R. Lippard is an internationally known art critic, activist and curator. She received a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art in 2015.

List of Contributors

Lucy Lippard