cover of book

Curating As Ethics
by Jean-Paul Martinon
University of Minnesota Press, 2020
Paper: 978-1-5179-0865-2 | Cloth: 978-1-5179-0864-5
Library of Congress Classification BJ1031.M3158 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 170


A new ethics for the global practice of curating

Today, everyone is a curator. What was once considered a hallowed expertise is now a commonplace and global activity. Can this new worldwide activity be ethical and, if yes, how? This book argues that curating can be more than just selecting, organizing, and presenting information in galleries or online. Curating can also constitute an ethics, one of acquiring, arranging, and distributing an always conjectural knowledge about the world. 

Curating as Ethics is primarily philosophical in scope, evading normative approaches to ethics in favor of an intuitive ethics that operates at the threshold of thought and action. It explores the work of authors as diverse as Heidegger, Spinoza, Meillassoux, Mudimbe, Chalier, and Kofman. Jean-Paul Martinon begins with the fabric of these ethics: how it stems from matter, how it addresses death, how it apprehends interhuman relationships. In the second part he establishes the ground on which the ethics is based, the things that make up the curatorial—for example, the textual and visual evidence or the digital medium. The final part focuses on the activity of curating as such—sharing, caring, preparing, dispensing, and so on. 

With its invigorating new approach to curatorial studies, Curating as Ethics moves beyond the field of museum and exhibition studies to provide an ethics for anyone engaged in this highly visible activity, including those using social media as a curatorial endeavor, and shows how philosophy and curating can work together to articulate the world today.

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