Curated selection by Clare Butcher
For our series ‘Curated by’, we invited Clare Butcher, art educator, cook and curator of the ‘We Contain Multitudes’ (Other Voices) programme at BEAR, ArtEZ, Arnhem, to make a selection from APRIA’s archives.
Invisible Infrastructures: Revealing Terminologies
Words are powerful tools. They help us communicate and miscommunicate. They can cover things up with a cloud of noise or silence (‘Confidential!’), and they can also expose the seemingly invisible infrastructures, policies, curricula and (hi)stories we inhabit.
Words have always compelled and confounded me. Anyone who knows me or who has participated in one of my sessions at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem, is probably familiar with my nerdy exclamation: ‘Oh, let’s look into the roots of that term!’ before opening etymology.com.
I also used to have a ‘bullshit jar’ in my class. We would have to add an agreed amount if we knew we’d just used a jargon-y word to sound fancy rather than include each other in our thought process. Extreme, perhaps. But I was young and a bit brattier. We’d always use the coins collected towards the end-of-year party snacks, though.
The following selection brings together APRIA contributions that add some particularly revealing terminologies to our communal vocabulary, while also reflecting on how we might ethically work with, through and, sometimes, in spite of words. I’m grateful to the contributors and the APRIA team for offering this editorial infrastructure for ongoing and important conversations.
Writer Miriam Rasch’s ‘A Vade Mecum of Urgent Editing’ was published as part of her co-edited issue on Urgent Publishing a year ago. Literally meaning ‘to go with me’ or ‘a useful thing that one constantly carries,’ Rasch’s vade mecum is structured in fragments, offering us as readers an opportunity to determine our own path through the material. By exposing the decisions, cuts and modes of an ethical editorial process, Rasch calls for ‘The move from closure to openness/From passive to active/From invisible to voiced/From standardisation to polyphony.’
Dr. Sruti Bala’s text from the Powertools series released earlier this year carefully considers the question ‘Can Translation do Justice?’ Importantly, Bala moves beyond the lofty metaphors that many philosophers have offered in the past. Rather, according to Bala, translation in artistic and educational processes could be understood as a responsive and relational practice, as a mode of… and here’s the etymology, ‘carrying across’ both the ‘visibility and voice’ of often marginal, even invisible ideas, subjects, texts, and sources of inspiration in the work we do.
Scholar, curator and educator Nancy Jouwe’s keynote address to the conference ‘The Roadmap to Equality in the Arts’ in early 2020 reflects on the roots of and routes towards ‘intersectionality.’ As you listen to her talk, which is presented here as the first of a mini-series of podcasts, you can hear that for Jouwe, intersectionality is not an overly academic/abstract term or a static position. Rather, it is a dynamic methodology for tuning into artistic practices, organising other infrastructures, reimagining the canon, as well as caring for each other.
Clare Butcher (she/her; based in Cape Town, SA) is a curator, art educator, and cook, who works through collaborative methodologies in and around artistic, curricular and archival contexts. Butcher is a lecturer at the Centre for Curating the Archive, University of Cape Town, and is curating the ‘We Contain Multitudes’ (Other Voices) programme at BEAR, ArtEZ, Arnhem.
Previously, she was a curator of Public Programming and Learning for the Toronto Biennial of Art, 2019-2021, as well as a part of aneducation team for documenta 14, 2016-2017. Recent writing includes the essay ‘How to Read an Exhibition’ in Fugitive Rituals (2022, ed. Myung-Sun Kim) and a conversation with Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide, ‘There’s a Leak in This Whole Building: Resisting Normative Exhibition Practices’ in A Lasting Truth Is Change (2022, eds. Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide and Taylor Le Melle).