Paranoia as a System: The Curator

The Curator is a multimedia piece developed entirely from found objects. The piece shows the 

artist’s inability to determine their own success, something that only the curator can control. Furthermore, The Curator illustrates the way success of artists is often absorbed by those that curate their art, as an artist is only as “successful” as the institutions and individuals that appreciate their art. This story is felt most by the pieces that surround the central figure, comprised of my own drawings and pieces forgotten in scrap bins at the Heimbold Art center. 

The materials used in The Curator are all an important part of creating the layered narrative told in the piece. The background is made up of photos and prints left in the scrap bins of SLC’s Heimbold Art Center, as well as personal drawings I’ve created depicting me as a child. Both the prints and drawings are worn down by layers of acrylic and spray paint. In the center of the piece are two white boxes, one with wiring bursting out the middle of the lower box. A border of white, with portions of reflective silver, surrounds the piece. 

Initially intended to be a display of lost pieces found throughout Sarah Lawrence, The Curator became something very different. As I looked through the abandoned pieces of art and material, I was left wondering why these pieces were the ones deemed unsuccessful or unwanted. Who gets to decide what a successful piece of art is? The abstract figure found in my piece attempts to visualize the answer to that last question. 

That figure symbolizes the irony that I perceive within the curatorial process of art. A pure, figure of white determines what art thrives in this world. The curator is an individual who, unconnected to a piece of art, creates a connection by force to ideas and pieces that come from a space unfamiliar to the curator. Unfamiliar except in their ability to commodify art.

Author: Alejo Pena Soto