Although I have worked as an art museum curator for almost ten years, this was my first AAMC conference. Ever since graduate school I was used to going to the annual meetings of the College Art Association and American Studies Association and developed a certain comfort zone around these meetings. It was a place to connect with academic colleagues (some of them curators who just want to know what’s going on in the field of art history) and browse the book fair to see what’s been published. In recent years, I began to miss a professional network that spoke more directly to my professional needs. I found that kind of network in AAMC.
Like any CAA conference, there was enough diversity of panels and speakers to address a number of issues in the field. There seemed to be something to take away for everyone. The Pecha Kucha: Inaugural Curatorial Slam was what I had anticipated with great excitement. I had heard about poster sessions before, but at CAA they usually get lost in the rush to squeeze in a lunch and a walk through the book fair. I had some reservations too. How could anyone find a common theme in the eight projects that were introduced at the curator’s slam called Pecha Kucha? How could one even give serious consideration to a project that was slammed into a five minute talk? The best thing about this format is maybe the format itself. Speakers do not present finished products but something that is prototype, model, or draft. And yes, this does not take away from the serious thought process and research at the heart of each project. We do get a bit of an intellectual tease, but also more than that. All the speakers deserve a resounding "Brava” for making it seem so easy to present very rich and complex curatorial projects into perfectly clear and concise short cuts.
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