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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
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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.

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Deveron Projects has since engaged other Shadow Curators / Producers for its projects:

François Matarasso + Utopia Group
Iain Irving + Gemuce
Katie Nicoll + David Sherry
Mary Jane Jacob + Hamish Fulton
Jonathan Baxter + Stéfanie Bourne
Dave Beech + Maider López
Pauline Burmann + Baudouin Mouanda
David Harding + Anthony Schrag
Tessa Jackson + Mihret Kebede
Christine Eyene + Nancy Mteki
Sarah Worden + Sanaa Gateja/Xenxon 
Lotte Juul Petersen + Caroline Wendling
Barbara Steveni + Anthony Schrag 

We have also developed a Shadow Curator Internship programme, giving young curators the chance to gain experience in the working methodology of the Shadow Curator. 

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Our Interns

Deveron Projects has had over 60 interns joining our team since 2008