Curating Web-Based Art Exhibitions: Mapping Online and Offline Formats of Display


Marialaura Ghidini 




University of Sunderland


This dissertation investigates the theory and praxis of curating web-based exhibitions from the perspective of a practitioner (the author Marialaura Ghidini). Specifically, it investigates how the web as a medium of production, display, distribution and critique has had an impact on the work and research of independent curators and the way in which they configure their exhibition projects. With a focus on the last decade, curatorial work of production and commission is considered in relation to technological developments, previous theoretical work into the mapping of exhibitions online and the analysis of case studies which are paralleled with the author’s own exhibition projects. What has emerged from this combination of theory, practice and comparison of approaches is the rise of a tendency in contemporary curatorial practices online: the creation of exhibitions that migrate across sites—online and offline—and integrate different components—formats of display and distribution—giving life to exhibition models which this study names as those of the 'extended' and 'expanded'. The figure of the curator as mediating ‘node’ is another characteristic emerging in relation to this tendency. Its features are identified through the observation of six case studies, which include Beam Me Up, CuratingYouTube and eBayaday, and interviews with their curators, and three projects that the author organised with the web curatorial platform or-bits-dot-com, "128kbps objects" (2012), "(On) Accordance" (2012) and "On the Upgrade WYSIWG" (2013), which experiment with modes of integrating web-based exhibition with other exhibition formats, such as the gallery show and print publishing. Through combining contextual review and curatorial practice, this study names the tensions existing between online and offline sites of display and modes of production and commission, offering critical and practical ground work to discuss the tendency of migrating exhibitions and integrating formats within the larger context of curating contemporary art.