Curate – The term may have found its place in the Western Culture way back in the new millennium but the word found its appeal among Indians only recently. Curating is basically the selection and organization of just about anything. Yes, anything. Ranging from music festivals to camp trips to twitter feeds to even Instagram feeds—curating exists everywhere. In broader term, it’s essentially a mix of art and science. Curating requires a clear and definite thought, an editorial mission, and an understanding of your audience and community.
What’s curating all about?
“Curating by virtue of its own definition aims to create shared significance, by gathering, vetting, organizing, and adding value. When it comes to art curation, however, it’s like bringing different cultures into its rightful place and balancing those cultures with the expectations of the audience and the inherent uniqueness of those culture themselves.” – believes Masooma Rizvi, founder of one of India’s premier design firms – Belita Design Solutions. Rizvi is the brain behind the redesigning of iconic spaces like the dining of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Manekshaw Centre.
Being blessed with an innate talent for imbuing any space with an extraordinary aesthetic, she says, Curating art or creating a beautiful ambience isn’t a task for her, it is a process of increasing peace within the space while enhancing its visual appeal, contributing to a feeling of well-being. Something that is a necessity in our ‘fast-living’ culture.” And we couldn’t agree more.
She further adds, “You might be inspired. You might be provoked. You might be enriched. More likely than not, you’ll be all three of those things and more when you involve yourself in the art of curating. It’s like opening new doors of thoughts, creativity, and innovation.”
What makes a competent curator?
When asked about what makes a competent curator, Masooma shared, “After over two decades of experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most important attributes of a competent curator is the ability to be discerning, establishing a certain perspective, and creating the desired ambience.”
Museum inauguration by Amit Shah
Being discerning involves standing one step back from your own personal preferences, choosing not necessarily what you like, but what’s significant in context, what’s significant to the audience, and community at large. “I think this is one of the least understood of all the curatorial roles”, adds Rizvi. Personal taste shouldn’t take precedence in curatorial work. Personal preference is one of the last emotions one brings to professional considerations when assessing, collecting, or curating.
What’s the important breakthrough for being an Art Curator?
A thing to remember here is that curating requires a lot of passion and patience. A passion for objects, a thirst for knowledge, an understanding of how things are made and how things work, and an eye for detail. And while taking care of all this, there should be ample amount of willingness to share this knowledge, passion, and understanding with others. Rizvi works and promotes women artiste, weavers and professionals at every front especially those who have keen interests in culture, history, heritage and restoration. Rizvi points out, “I genuinely believe that the curative process is different for everyone but one has to be fearless with the choice and unconventional in approach. I push all the boundaries of creativity to challenge myself, to take inspiration from others and improve my work. Even though I’ve been in this field since I was 24 years old, I still keep challenging myself to do better and create something magical every time. That’s where the passion lies.”
The process of curating begins with the ability to undertake complex research, and ends with an in depth understanding of culture, artistes, people, and the story of their art . It is also about getting out the way, exploring beyond obvious and creating magic. “Competent curators need to be able to communicate complex concepts and ideas concisely and engagingly to the audience, to the fellow curators which in turn can help one find better concepts, innovative ideas and most importantly find the ‘eureka moment’.” – says Rizvi signing off.