Curating Degree Zero Archive is an archive of material donated by critical curators, curatorial groups, artist-curators. It was initiated by Dorothee Richter and Barnaby Drabble. In Zurich it was re-interpreted through interactive interventions by Kristin Bauer, Isabel Muenter, Sabina Pfenninger & Karin Seinsoth. It was displayed in the program's mobile project space 'Trailer'.
In order to be consistent with the kind of critical material that the participating curators have made available, the Curating Degree Zero Archive tries to preserve an open character in its a narrative structure. The arrangement is not immutable; rather, it will travel from institution to institution and, in a collaboration with the host institution, constantly change and expand the selection of positions represented. The fundamental idea behind the archive is to enlighten: to bring together information that is difficult to find and then make it accessible. The website will make a navigational structure available to the users of the archive as a basis for scholarly and practical research both for the participating curators and for other members of the “operating system” of the art world. The archive is not intended to establish a self-contained narrative but rather to present a range of divergent positions in order to provide a framework for and shed light on the contexts of the work of individual curators who wish to be critical and political. With that in mind, the contradictions that become evident in an overview of divergent practices seem fruitful to us. We want to allow these contradictions, fissures, and rifts to stand, and to use the questions that arise from them as an opportunity to gain knowledge.
The concept of critical curating is inherently not a unified one. It is subject to constant historical change, just as the discursive formation of the visual arts is subject to constant transformation. In this context the making of exhibitions should be understood as a practice that produces, influences, and alters the object of which it speaks.
On the one hand, we take critical curatorial practice—as it relates to the Curating Degree Zero Archive—to mean an orientation around content that addresses political themes such as feminism, urbanism, postcolonialism, the critique of capitalism, and the mechanisms of social exclusion. On the other hand, we are interested in finding ways to go beyond the structure of the “white cube” and classical exhibition formats. This can take the form of interventionist practices, questioning the art world’s “operating system,” or new ways to impart knowledge processes.