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The Curated Exhibition: A Philosophical and Historical Analysis

Deprez, Eleen M. (2018) The Curated Exhibition: A Philosophical and Historical Analysis. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.103915) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:103915)

Language: English

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This thesis presents a philosophical and historical analysis of the curated exhibition. It first gives an account of the historical development of the curated exhibition and of the role of the curator as the maker of such exhibitions. Both are relatively recent historical developments. The curated exhibition is shown to emerge during the twentieth century, and the role of the curator, as a figure primarily concerned with the production of such exhibitions develops, from around the 1960s. It then turns to a philosophical analysis of the curated exhibition and the curator. This has three parts. The first part gives a definition of curated exhibitions. In the process it draws a distinction between mere displays, exhibitions, and curated exhibitions. A mere display is a purposeful site-responsive arrangement of items for the attention of an audience. An exhibition is more than this: it is a public thematic display that creates an appreciative context for its items on display. I argue that a curated exhibition is also properly understood a kind of speech act: an utterance, made by the curator, with locutionary, perlocutionary and illocutionary force. The curated exhibition thus not only informs the visitor and guides their appreciation, the curator communicates something, typically their ideas, views or attitudes. Moreover, in saying something the curator does something; it has illocutionary force. For example, a curated exhibition can be a judgement or an exercise of power. The second part develops an understanding of the role of the curator in making exhibitions. It argues that the curator can be understood as an author, an agent that bears responsibility for the features of their work under a particular sortal description. The third part examines the ontology of curated exhibitions, arguing that they have a hybrid ontology. A curated exhibition is a combined entity, comprising of a concrete artefact, the display, and an abstract artefact, the authored-curatorial utterance. Its identity is determined by this hybrid, meaning that two curated exhibitions are only identical if and only if their authored-curatorial utterances have the same illocutionary force and their display supports that utterance through a similar appreciative context. This allows a solution to the problem of how identical displays can instantiate different exhibitions, and how differing displays can instantiate the same exhibition.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Maes, Hans
Thesis advisor: Friday, Jonathan
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.103915
Uncontrolled keywords: Curating, Philosophy of Art, Analytical Philosophy of Art, Aesthetics, Exhibition, Curator, Curated Exhibitions, ontology, authorship
Subjects: N Visual Arts
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2023 08:24 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 11:06 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Deprez, Eleen M..

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