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Myth as a metaphor for curatorial practice


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore myth as an alternative metaphor for curatorial practice, design, and value. This line of thought could be understood as a proposition for practice and thought rather than a historical analysis. This imagining came from the realisation that without possible alternatives, critique does not actively challenge the established systems or locus of power. As is the heart of this discourse, I will admit my own being as reference and understanding.

Within Chapter 1, I will explore how we might imagine the curatorial endeavour as a storytelling and mythologising practice. Remembering Rasheed Araeen’s The Other Story (1989) and Ekow Eshuns In the Black Fantastic (2022) as examples of curatorial myths and their impact on public knowledge. I will question our perception of existing systems of memory and history, and how these could be intentionally evoked or questioned through the fantastic, mystical, and fictional.

In Chapter 2, I will explore how myth can be embodied in the design of the exhibition, exemplified by Cecilia Alemanis The Milk of Dreams (2022) Venice Biennale. Using the writings of T.Kjølberg, G. Kavanagh, and others, I will delve into the dream, imagination and communing as aspects of the mystic; how these impact interpretations and how they could be further utilised within the exhibitionary. Further, by constructing these realms an immersive space is created that embraces the individual and counters hierarchy.

Finally, Chapter 3 will explore the institution as a ritualistic mythmaker and orator of specific myths and narratives. Comparing The Hayward Gallery and Vancouver Art Gallery’s mission aims, we can see what overarching values the institution perpetuates. Growing from previous chapters construction of myth as story, immersion, and sharing, as alternatives and how can these be activated by the institution to challenge relations or power, orthodoxy, inclusion, and engagement.

To read the full dissertation please request for a copy.

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