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Ed McKeon and Juan Menchero

Brandon Farnsworth, Anna Jakobsson, and Vanessa Massera, eds. 2021. Taking the Temperature: Crisis, Curating, and Musical Diversity, 2nd edition. Zurich: OnCurating.org.

Eckersall, Peter, and Bertie Ferdman. 2021. Curating Dramaturgies: How Dramaturgy and Curating are Intersecting in the Contemporary Arts. New York: Routledge, 201 pp., Ebook available.

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Coming to Our Senses

From the Birth of the Curator Function to Curating Live Arts

Ed McKeon

In order to grasp the significance and potential of live arts curating, I claim it is essential to understand the coming-to-visibility of the curator function in the artworld from the 1960s. This helps to navigate the question of whether the arrival of this discourse and practice for performance in the last decade is an extension of a curatorial remit founded in the gallery arts. Has the scope of curatorial work expanded, or is there a parallel operation for live arts? I argue that a third possibility remains, that it signals a mutation of curatorial practice that bears on both the formerly visual arts and on the shift ing ground of live arts. What becomes possible when curatorial work lays aside its visual privilege, its expert eyes and the authority of its insights?

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Common Purpose

Performance and Curation as Allied Socially Engaged Practices

Brogan Bunt

The relationship between performance and curation has shift ed. A new attitude of fluid and pragmatic alliance has evolved as the sense of an essential antagonism between performance and curation recedes and the two fields discover a shared focus on aspects of social engagement and agency. This article considers an Australian socially engaged art project, the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation (KSCA), which meshes curatorial and artistic practices in its efforts to reimagine and reanimate the future of a small country town. Employing a wide range of strategies, KSCA works closely with the local community to facilitate collective memory, reflection and social and environmental transformation. Deliberately avoiding traditional lines of artistic and institutional tension, KSCA employs an impure and inclusive approach that is emblematic of emerging forms of activist contemporary art.

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Barbara Scales

The central question for curating innovative performances by ensembles, which connect to their moment in time and to their audiences, is deciding what to play, and why. What repertoire shall we play? Or perhaps, what shall we arrange? What should we learn and practice, and what should we commission? And underlying these questions is the wonder-filled query: Why? What is the magical combination that informs these choices? I explored these central questions via a two-hour virtual conversation with leaders of three very different ensembles. My starting point for this exploration is that music ensemble leaders are involved in a complex process of making choices in relation to the intention of their ensemble and the time and place of the performance. Even if they do not already use the word, I suggest that curating is what these ensembles are doing. In order to grasp the nature of curation, we can learn a great deal from the process as it develops within an ensemble.

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Editorial

Engaging with Turbulence

Tawny Andersen, Sandeep Bhagwati, Victoria Carrasco, Dena Davida, Barbara Scales, and Yves Sheriff

The call for papers for this inaugural issue of TURBA opened with two truisms: “Live arts have existed long before history. At all times, and in all cultures around the world, people have performed for others.” Yet we have just lived through more than a year during which the second of these assertions was falsified almost everywhere on the planet. When performing for and near others was not only, as it oft en is, precarious or subversive, but outright life-threatening. Was it wise or necessary, at such a historic juncture, to embark on a new journal that focuses on how cultural communities around the world foster and debate live performances? We obviously believe so.

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Graham Holderness

This general issue of Critical Survey ranges from mediaeval to modern literature and drama.

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Enabling Entanglements to Emerge

Discovering Performance Curation in the Philippines

Regina Bautista

From October 5 to 10, 2020, Performance Curators Initiative (PCI),1 a network of artists, curators, performance-makers, cultural workers, educators, practitioners, and enthusiasts based in the Philippines, held their third conference online via Zoom and streamed it on YouTube. Entitled “Conversations on Curation and Performance in the Time of Halting and Transformation,” I participated in this conference that opened a digital space for curators and performers around the world to talk about the effects of the global pandemic on the live arts. Connections, conversations, creative research, collaborations—as PCI founder and conference organizer Roselle Pineda notes—are the main focus of the network, which seeks to look at the relationship between “[p]erformance and curation, the role of curation in performance and role of performativity in curatorial practice” (from the network’s website). Pineda had invited me to register for the conference, which was focused on the role of curator as one who activates enabling spaces.

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‘Fanciful associations’

The Perverse Endurance of Derrida’s [sic] ‘logical phallusies’

Niall Gildea

This article concerns the expression ‘logical phallusies’, imputed to Jacques Derrida by Barry Smith in 1992 in a letter arguing against the proposed award to Derrida of an honorary doctorate at Cambridge. Derrida insisted that this expression appeared nowhere in his oeuvre – it has never been found – and yet it has endured, in discussions of Derrida’s work and general legacy, more than any other aspect of Derrida’s ‘Cambridge Affair’. I address two cases of the expression’s weird stubbornness, arguing that its misattribution to Derrida is a gesture which Derrida’s work guards against and undermines – even deconstructs – in advance. The article sounds a note of caution about the ‘post-theoretical’ practice of assimilating philosophers and theorists to the humanities via the decontextualised appropriation of putatively synecdochic buzzwords.

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From Cabaret to International Festivals

The Accidental Cultivation of a Curatorial Approach

Robyn Archer

I write not as an academic, but as a singer, writer of works for the stage, festival director, and arts advisor. The word curator first entered my understanding as the role of those working in art galleries and museums: those skilled individuals who “cared for” their collections. The word has now spread to many of the things that I do, including the way I have “put together” large international arts festivals.

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Fudging the Outcome of Much Ado About Nothing

How the Villains, Don Pedro and Count Claudio, Are Allowed to Stay and Dance

Paul Rapley

This article asserts that in Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare lays open the rottenness within an arbitrary system of government but does not dare carry the plot to its logical conclusion. The responses to events by the dominant nobles, a prince and a count, are not merely foolish and damaging, but, in light of the guidance of, among others, Girolamo Muzio and Baldassare Castiglione, deeply dishonourable. The playmakers, as the most talented team in the realm licensed for performance entertainment, create a historically credible set of characters, but, possibly because they wish to continue to benefit from their protected status and draw their regular customers, do not make explicit any radical questioning of rank and degree. An analysis of Margaret’s role suggests a strategic ambiguity within the jocular ending.