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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
What have walking and food got to do with art? What have walking and food got to do with art?

Shadow Curating

A critical methodology: the agonistic way

A Shadow Curator (like the Shadow Minister in parliament) acts as an embedded critic who scrutinises what we do and thereby brings constructive alternatives to our work process.

‘The‘shadow’ cabinet is often called Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The adjective ‘loyal’ is used because, while there are policy differences, everyone acknowledges the role of the opposition in the system.’ (wikipedia)

Shadow Curator is a critical methodology developed by Nuno Sacramento, that strives to strengthen the mission of the art institution and its appointed producer/curator's practice.

The opposition Party appoints an MP to ‘shadow’ each of the members of the Cabinet. Through this 'check and balance' system it can make sure that it looks at every part of the Government through thorough questioning.

The role of the Shadow MPs during their mandate is clear: to scrutinise the function of the Members of Parliament in power and to propose appropriate alternative policies. 

Unlike the Shadow MP, the Shadow Curator is a guest to the art institution that invites him/her to develop a critical enquiry into the curatorial model it inhabits. This new form of peerage and self reflection, working in absolute equality, maps the curatorial process through querying and critiquing the assumptions of the institution. In other words, it creates a mirror that when held up against a practice, highlights opportunities for critical development.

In the Huntly/Deveron Projects case the work of the Shadow Curator in collaboration with the (appointed) Curator is to be seen as a possibility or opportunity. It is the co-existence, within the same context, of multiple ways of seeing the artists' projects and their connections. As such, the  idea functions as ‘a model of otherwise’, in perpetual motion between the actual project devised by the Director, and the alternative one, proposed by the Shadow Curator.

Claudia Zeiske and Nuno Sacramento have since written ARTocracy, a hand book for curatorial practice, based on the Shadow Curator dialogue. Watch Nuno talk about the concept of the Shadow Curator.