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Harald Szeemann. Individual Methodology
Book Publication

JRP | Ringier Editions - 160 x 230 mm - Soft Cover - 248 pages - 60 black and white images - 2007

From 7 October 2007 to 6 January 2008, we present our book on the curatorial practice and methodology of Harald Szeemann—result of the ten-months research in the frame of the curatorial training program, in the "Red Room" at Magasin during the autumn exhibitions (opening on saturday 6 October).

The book Harald Szeemann. Individual Methodology is the result of a research done in the archive of Harald Szeemann. Thanks to an exceptional opportunity, kindly offered by the Szeemann family, we were able to access the archive at Fabbrica Rosa, the old factory in Maggia, canton of Tessin, Switzerland. The exhibition maker moved his archive to Fabbrica Rosa since 1988 and this research was based on the invaluable information found there.

We chose to treat methodology of Harald Szeemann not as historians but as curators wishing to connect his past to our present. The editorial approach aims to enlight Szeemann’s self-organization and its developing all along his career. This self-organization, contradictorily to his exhibitions, didn’t leave any traces accessible to the public now. The book constitutes itself an informative and analytical manual for people interested in curatorial practices and history of exhibitions. The research is based on the unpublished documents and testimonies of his closest collaborators. The title of the book as well as its four parts—situations – concepts/processes – works – information—refer to Harald Szeemann’s universe of individual mythologies and his exhibition When Attitudes Become Form (1969).

The first part of the book—Situations—contextualizes the period of activities of Harald Szeemann regarding theoretical questions and discussions in the art field. The essay This Funeral Is For The Wrong Corpse by Hal Foster is an extract from his book Design and Crime (and Other Diatribes) first published in 2002. Here Hal Foster goes back to the funeral questions of the four past decades, the end of art, modernism, post-modernism (…) and their trauma effects on the artistical potential. The essay Art and Its Context or the Question of Culture by Jean-Marc Poinsot is published here for the first time. He analyzes the effect of curatorial approaches that the directors of Documenta 10 and 11 have brought regarding social and cultural problematic. Some exhibitions of Harald Szeemann are mentioned as predecessors of this cultural evolution. The interview with Tobia Bezzola—curator at Kunsthauz Zurich and Szeemann’s collaborator during several years—retraces the itinerary of independent permanent curator from the end of the 1950s till the last biennials in the 2000s and analyzes the evolution of Szeemann’s status.

The second part of the book—Concepts/Processes—presents two analyses. The first is dedicated to the organization of Harald Seemann’s archive at Fabbrica Rosa; the other – to the establishment and functioning of his Agency for Spiritual Guestwork. For better understanding of Szeemann’s work methodology being independent curator, this part includes numerous documents (photographs, facsimiles, plans) and testimonies of his collaborators.

In the third part of the book—Works—the two exhibitions studies are presented: Documenta 5 realized in 1972 and L’Autre—the 4th Lyon Biennial in 1997. The authors chose these shows in order to enlight the relation between the exhibitions and its historical and artistical contexts. These two case studies are based on the documents from the archive and interviews with some artists, co-curators of Documenta 5, and the artistic director of the Lyon Biennial. All the mentioned above helped to understand the evolution of Szeemann’s practice during 25 years that separated these two exhibitions.

In the fourth part—Information—there is practical information on Harald Szeemann: his biography, illustrated chronology of his exhibitions since 1957 till 2005, and a selective bibliography of Szeemann’s writings.

Harald Szeemann: Individual Methodology is a project developed by the 16th Session of Ecole du Magasin (National Contemporary Art Centre, Grenoble): François Aubart, Julija Cistiakova, Haeju Kim, Lucia Pesapane, Fabien Pinaroli, Karla G. Roalandini-Beyer, Yuka Tokuyama and Sadie Woods under the tutorship of Florence Derieux.

Publisher: Magasin – National Contemporary Art Centre of Grenoble and JRP|Ringier

see the table of content

see the second project : Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Session 16, June 2007


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