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Curatorial Intentions and Visitor Experience : Three case studies of publicly funded Konsthallar and how curatorial intentions affect the creation of social space

  • Wästfelt, Linnea
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2024
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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Publicly funded art institutions in Sweden are tasked with the mission of making contemporary art available and accessible to the citizens. This thesis investigates three cases of publicly funded art institutions in Sweden, namely Göteborgs Konsthall, Malmö Konsthall and Liljevalchs Konsthall. The study examines the exhibitions presented by the institutions during the fall of 2023 and how they are curated to be inclusive or exclusive towards visitor groups. By using a model of curatorial values in conjunction with a constructed model of the exhibition as social space, inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s concept “social space”, this research will reveal different strategies used by the institutions for mediating curatorial intentions through the exhibitions.    Empirically the thesis is based on observations of three exhibitions and their visitors and interviews with exhibition hosts. The material is used to examine how the institutions work towards different audiences and how curatorial decisions influence visitor behaviour within the selected institutions.    The results show that the three cases differ in curatorial decisions and values. Further, the social space model used indicates that institutions differ in how they award agency to visitors. The analysis shows that visitors, by acting in unpredictable ways, contribute to the social space of exhibitions in ways not intended by the curator.     In conclusion, this study shows that the mission of the municipality-driven art institution is multifaceted and holds challenges when attempting to engage a broad audience while displaying exhibitions of high artistic integrity. The curatorial choices reflect in the audience and these choices therefore determine who will partake in the exhibition. The curator therefore plays a crucial role in how the exhibitions work with inclusivity. 

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