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Curating the Ephemeral: Practices of Engagement and Display in Contemporary Art

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Innovative ways of connecting the material with the immaterial in art

Researchers investigated diverse curatorial approaches within and outside major international art institutions in Europe and the United States.


There have been recent tendencies toward socially engaged artworks. An EU-funded project, CTE (Curating the ephemeral: Practices of engagement and display in contemporary art), investigated these tendencies. The project also studied the revaluation of dance and performance art within museums and the conditions of display, reception and archival presence that such work is given. The work involved sustained reading and writing processes that explored the conceptual contexts of work on ephemeral art through published, archival and online research materials. Besides focusing on aesthetics, philosophy, cultural politics and theory, the work involved the examination of curatorial theory and contemporary art. Among other areas, it also considered philosophical and cultural studies of spirit and soul and their relation to cultural politics and art. From that, 10 chapters of a single-authored work were drafted. CTE accessed significant archives, exhibitions, talks and performance events that helped to shape the areas of research. Key international artists and curators were involved in developing curatorial initiatives. With the knowledge obtained from their experience and perspective, specific issues were examined. These included museological practices and immaterial art, the relation between object-oriented and event-oriented curation, temporalities of performance and of visual display, and material and affective economies in art. As a result of the collaborations, one curatorial project was formed in the second year and three curatorial projects with international institutions were realised in the final year of research. Each one resulted in distinct innovations in relation to questions of the practice of curation as well as its relation to immaterial art and public engagement. Numerous knowledge exchange and outreach events were derived from the research in several countries across the globe. The events impacted a broad European and international audience.


Curatorial approaches, art institutions, CTE, contemporary art, museums, ephemeral art

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