By Joseph Mathieu
The new Curatorial Studies diploma at Carleton University might not officially launch until September, but students have already travelled to world-class exhibitions thanks to affiliated scholarships.
This summer, Katie Kendall and Amy Bruce deepened their understanding of global contemporary art by travelling to Europe for a two-week seminar organized by the University of Cologne. They visited the Venice Biennale, Skulptur Projekte Münster, and Documenta 14 in both Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece with help from the Reesa Greenberg Exhibition Studies Award.
“Reesa Greenberg is a leader in the field of exhibition studies,” says Art History Prof. Ming Tiampo, “and very passionate about providing opportunities for emerging curators.”
Greenberg is a professor emeritus at Concordia University and adjunct professor at Carleton. Her award was designed to give future curators in Carleton’s new diploma program the opportunity to travel abroad and experience exhibitions first hand.
Katie Kendall, a second-year MA student in Art History, swapped her concentration in art exhibitions into the newly offered Curatorial Studies diploma.
“The Venice Biennale takes places every two years, Documenta 14 every four, and Project Sculputre every decade,” says Kendall. “It was really fortuitous that this summer we were able to see all three.”
The exhibition that aligned with most of her study interests turned out to be Skulptur Projekte, for which “sculpture” was a loose term, she says. The exhibition included installations, performances and diverse media. “My interests lie in socially engaged works of art, community and participation, and this exhibition really incorporated those interests.”
The award and another curatorial scholarship were established to support hands-on examination of exhibitions to make the curatorial studies diploma more than a purely academic program.
Now in its third year, the Twin Bridge bursary for curatorial studies travel has helped a Carleton student do an internship at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, another to assist on an installation at the last Venice Biennale, and a third to travel to Documenta 14 in Athens, to supplement her research on site-specific installation art and its relationship to architecture.
Amy Bruce, a third-year PhD student in Cultural Mediations who completed her BA and MA in Art History at Carleton, has long been interested in biennials. She studied the Venice Biennale throughout her MA and visited it with help from Reesa Greenberg.
Insight into each exhibition came at each stop, from curators on the ground and even students in the group. In Athens, they learned from curator Hendrik Folkerts about Documenta 14’s processes, resources and challenges. They also heard from Dimitris Charalambis at the University of Athens, who focused on the history of the city and the current political and societal landscape of Greece.
Sometimes, the emerging arts professionals gave a short presentation in their areas of expertise, enabling members of the international group to learn from each other.
“There were about 16 or 18 students from Greece, Italy and Germany,” says Bruce, “and we gained insights regarding the reception of the biennial… from the participants about their resident countries. As outsiders, it was so valuable.”