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David Teh & Anna-Catharina Gebbers

The Story of the Curator

Curators David Teh and Anna-Catharina Gebbers discuss the narrations they embody when they play the role of their occupation, along with other roles they realise, having experienced living and working in and with different regions and places. David Teh describes changes in the history of curating and reflects on his experiences as a curator in Southeast Asia. Through exploring the exhibition landscape, he distinctly divides artist-run environments from those institutionalised, by also drawing on his book Artist-to-Artist: Independent Art Festivals in Chiang Mai 1992-1998, thereby questioning the place of production of contemporary art and the role the curator embodies in it. He notes the importance of the development and preservation of archives in Southeast Asia as something that is often singularly being done by artists themselves, their families and loved ones. Yet this can restrict it to a site as embodied knowledge. So, what does the curatorial role mean within the frame of global contemporary art? Rather than only looking at the beginning of non-institutional curating in North America and Western Europe, why not everywhere else, too? To begin to grasp such questions, specific histories and narrations that are embodied in a place need to be considered in more depth. Coming back to their roles, Teh briefly explores why he is not an art historian in the classical sense, while Gebbers gives a brief overview of the everyday tasks of a curator employed at an institution, from practice to theory, to paperwork and interspecies communications — as seen in her past and present exhibitions.