Curating the Moving Image | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Curating the Moving Image

Curating the Moving Image
by Mark Nash

Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2023
408 pp., illus., 110 col. Paper, $29.95
ISBN: 978-4780-2044-8.

Reviewed by: 
Mike Leggett
December 2023

The author establishes from the start the relatedness of curatorial practise to artists' research activity and its outputs into the public and private contexts. This memoir commences in the last half of the 20th century with a summation of the fundamentals of world cinema and the narrative tradition, from Soviet cinema to Hollywood, through to the European ‘new wave’ and, with the arrival of affordable motion-picture technologies, the interventions from isolated international artists proposing fresh ways to expand the notion of cinema. The recent arrival of the digital projector offered many more options than the film projector or the cathode ray tube for the display of the moving image, often on many screens simultaneously, as is evidenced in the work of Lucas’s partner and collaborator, the celebrated black British artist, Isaac Julian. The emphasis of the narrative is on extended descriptions of the international events and exhibitions, such as Documenta and biennales in different parts of the world, with which the author and notable collaborators (e.g., Okwui Enwezor), had a major part to play, interestingly, in close association with architects and designers, demonstrated with diagrams and floor plans. The book itself is designed as an exhibition, with sections leading through illustration portals to strata of presentations: sequential; back to the future, ecology of images, theatrical fields, viva italia, stage; China as method; opening into essays, written with an engaging style adapted from his exhibition catalogue and gallery notes. The upheavals following the end of the Cold War when political activity and many artists' practise vectored toward post-colonial critiques is useful for contemporary researchers to comprehend, prior to the next international crisis, likely to be the struggle for habitable territory. For many, the territory covered here is distant and arcane, for others the cloak of Byzantian machinations in the selection and presentation of artists' work is glimpsed. As a well-established pioneer in curatorial studies, Mark Nash provides copious notes and a well-stocked Bibliography to enable expansion into this important area of research and scholarship.