Monday, 11 March 2019, Eleen Deprez (University of Kent), “What Are Curated Exhibitions? An Ontological Question”


Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

Abstract: In this paper I will raise questions about the nature of curated exhibitions. My focus will be on the ontological entity (the identity question) and the identity conditions (the individuation question) of curated exhibitions. I will consider curated exhibitions as a site-responsive (i.e. not site-specific) display of items, that creates an appreciative context and makes an utterance. An exhibition can move location. Exhibitions travel from one museum to another and the display adapts its arrangement each time. Sometimes, a reinstallation will use exactly the same artworks, reuse plinths, reproduce the wall labels, and try – within the scope of the new space – to rehang the works in the same way. More often than not however, a reinstallation looks very different from the original exhibition. We intuit that curated exhibitions can be repeated with significant noticeable differences to their display, but there seem to be some limits. How much can an exhibition change when it is being reinstalled? Are, with respect to the identity of a curated exhibition, some features more significant or consequential than others? I will argue that curated exhibitions are an ontological hybrid: a combined ontological entity. The hybrid theory maintains that a curated exhibition comprises a concrete site-responsive display of works of art and an abstract curatorial utterance made through that display. We shall see that the answer to the individuation question is that two curated exhibitions are identical if their authored-curatorial utterances have the same illocutionary force and if their display supports that utterance through a similar appreciative context.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola).


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