Curator..creator of artistic taste

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During its artistic season, the city of Dubai is full of many art galleries offering many well-known or young artists, presenting works of art belonging to different schools and artistic trends. It is certain that the artistic value of these works is subject to evaluation and classification, to be presented at the end within specific lists and specialized galleries; Who is behind it?

What are some of the reasons why works of art appear differently? And how does the presentation change the way you accept or interpret the work? How do you group certain works?

The answer to these questions begins with a word: “value”.

It is a word that refers to a person who has a special relationship with art and a profession that plays a role with global influence, in the field of art and has the ability to create paths to place the work of art in the right place. in terms of its artistic and material value, as well as helping to find suitable paths to receive works of art and to interact with them.

Values ​​is a profession and an indispensable person for exhibitions and his critical advice is urgent for anyone working in the field, especially for emerging talents. It is also the compass that art collectors look at.


The term ‘curator’ or ‘coordinator’ comes from the Latin word curare, which means ‘care’. In ancient Rome curators were responsible for overseeing baths, aqueducts, and sewers. In the Middle Ages, the ‘curator’ or ‘coordinator’ was a priest dedicated to caring for members of the community. In the eighteenth century, the curator was the person who curated the collections and artifacts. The crystallization of the profession and the personality of values ​​does not end there. Since the end of the 20th century, the role of “values” has appeared in the flourishing of art fairs and the revival of the art market.

Curators have become the creators of good taste in today’s world of art, and at their best, curators (“curators”) try to reflect the state of the local and global artistic movement and announce new trends in art and t ‘give voice to a variety. the range of artists, offering critical proposals that enrich the quality of the works and put the artist on the right track, in relation to the nature of the play and the most important strengths and weaknesses, in addition to addressing the relationship of the works of art to social climates and politics.

talent discovery

On the other hand, the dual ability of the artistic “curator” function as a tasteful and auditor of artistic value, led to the emergence of their role in discovering influential artistic talents. This role has become one of the elements of the force of “values” as it can make or break the artist’s career.

Probably the first curator to achieve such a stature was Henry Geldzler, who in 1969 opened his first exhibition, “Painters and Sculptors in New York from 1940-1970” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, presenting his career of a group of emerging artists like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, David Hockney and James Rosenquist. According to the New York Times, Gildsaller has been called “the most powerful and controversial art curator in the world.”

Content indexing

Here, in the Emirates, the profession of artistic curator has emerged in recent years, who has begun to play an extraordinary role in the art scene, especially in the field of plastic arts. To this, artist Maitha Al Zaffin says: In today’s market-driven contemporary art environment, curators maintain the mission of highlighting the non-commercial dimension of art. All curators verify the type of intellectual content and the art community and its changing paths still need this profession, as the main tasks of art curators are to receive, collect and catalog works of art, as well as to provide their care comprehensive. He should also deal with research and scientific and critical activities related to art. The Artistic Coordinator also organizes performances and exhibitions. This includes stabilizing the value of the work of art, negotiating the lending of items by other institutions and writing documents such as posters and explanatory materials, as well as information boards.

relationship building

For his part, Khalil Abdel Wahed, Director of the Department of Fine Arts at Dubai Culture, said: Curators should have a general knowledge of art, in addition to an in-depth experience specializing in art history. A person looking to work in a museum that specializes in contemporary art, for example, should have extensive knowledge in this specific field.

Curators are also expected to have excellent relationship-building skills in order to establish and nurture partnerships with other institutions, artists and collectors, as well as event management or an organized exhibition, which is an essential skill necessary for organizing of exhibitions and work with all actors. involved in the Project consists of artists, exhibition designers, sponsorship management and partner institutions. Although not their main activity, curators can also work on marketing projects to promote their organization’s events.

cultural experience

Regarding the experiences gained from working as an art curator, Shamma Yahya Al Zaffin Al Muhairi says: My experience as an art curator at the Sikka Art and Design Festival in Dubai is my first professional and applied experience and I have worked to test what kam. I study as a student studying the history of art and museums.

She adds: During the past period I have gained experiences which have enabled me to apply the knowledge gained through study and reading, as well as I have gained experience in selecting contemporary art paintings, which reflect the excellent talents that exist in our cultural community. , and find the right place in the historic environment and heritage architecture we find in the Al Fahidi Historic neighborhood.

Shamma believes that the importance of having artistic value in art galleries is a necessary addition, as values ​​contribute to the coordination and suggestion of the intangible dialogue, ie moral, that the visitor and art lover feels. This is done through the role of values ​​in the selection of works of art and the proposed dialogue to include them under a common roof; The importance of values ​​lies in enhancing the visitor experience and providing an interesting and memorable cultural experience. At the core of his work, the curator strives to harmonize his mastery of art with the environment in which it will be displayed, be it historical or contemporary. In particular, the interest in the vision of the artist himself and his translation, namely his reflection in the structural environment of museums and exhibitions.

Shamma says: I see that the artistic values ​​that the cultural community needs, whether in the field of design or the arts, especially after the pandemic, are the guiding values ​​that guide the artist, without limiting him, and accompany him in the production process. of his final work.

improve practices

In the same context, Ayana Fanasfan explains that the union of art and cultural research is the core of the curator’s work and lies in particular in promoting the artistic practices of the artists, opening the doors and overcoming all the boundaries and obstacles that would limit this process. development. .

In the same context, artist Hind Mazina says that the way the world sees our Arab region increases her interest in presenting similar works of art, as she often hears about stereotypes and ethnic images unknown to our Arab region, even from her colleagues.

“It will be interesting to explore how popular narratives can be changed and offer a new perspective through which our countries can be seen,” says Hind.

Intellectual language

Kamila Al-Ulama points out that the experiences gained from her work as an artistic curator are great experiences in the field of art. She particularly dwells on her participation in the Sikka Art and Design Festival and says: “My participation in the Sikka Art and Design Festival allowed me many acquired skills, such as appreciating art and recognizing its quality. It also facilitates the artistic idea, as values ​​become a specialized mediator between the work of art and the recipient, with its intellectual, mental, sensory and visual language.


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