Erik Kessels On Cultivating New Curatorial Voices

We met up with the head professor of Curae, PhMuseum's Online Masterclass on Curatorial Practice, to catch a glimpse of his teaching approach and curatorial perspective seeking emotions, friction, and vulnerability.

Applications are now open for the next edition of Curae 2024/25, which will again be led by the Dutch artist, curator and designer. Mixing theoretical seminars with practical sessions, individual meetings with group classes, Kessels will inspire and challenge emerging practitioners on how to edit, present, and communicate photography, with the practical aim to curate and design one exhibition of their own, or somebody else's, work.

Ciao Erik, thanks again for joining our Masterclass Program for the second consecutive year. How has your experience been so far? 

It has been an intense course where I work with many artists and curators from different parts of the world and collaborate closely.

Your program has indeed seen an interesting mix of artists and curators coming together. What is their interaction bringing to the table?

This crossover and the mix of several different disciplines within the world of visual arts makes it very exciting for the participants. We learn a lot from each other by having many different sessions together.

What do you think of the more and more blurred relationship between being an artist and being a curator?

I’m not saying that every curator needs to be some kind of an artist, but for sure, I believe that every artist has to have some kind of a curator in him or herself. Learning how to edit/show/communicate and sell your work is important and can never harm your practice.

Have you developed a methodology in conceiving and designing installations in your own work, or is it more an instinctive approach based on ideas and experience?

The challenge is to try to do something that confronts and communicates. Art should create a friction in your head and an extreme emotion in your belly. The only rule to achieve this, is that there is no rule. When you surprise yourself with your own ideas, you know you’re in a good place.

How do you encourage students to develop their own unique curatorial voices and perspectives and what can they expect from working with you?

You develop your own curatorial voice by learning to accept and embrace vulnerability/mistakes/courage. But most important is to start to believe in yourself and in what you can bring to the table in the art world. Things start to work if you really know what your voice is.

Do you have any advice to share with prospect applicants?

There’s only two ways to play this: 1. You’re not signing up and you will not get my advice, simple! 2. You’re signing up for this and you will soon get so much advice that it will drive you crazy! Up to you…

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Curae Online Masterclass On Curatorial Practice is part of the PhMuseum new educational program, comprising four different masterclasses that will all share a single intake period running until 20 June, with classes beginning in October 2024. Each course is tailored to meet the needs of emerging photographers, artists, curators, and contemporary storytellers looking to bring their methods to the next level. Check out which program suits you best at phmuseum.com/education

APPLICATION KEY DATES:

23 May - If you apply by this date you can be eligible for the full scholarship, and will automatically access the Early Bird Fee of €1,750. 

20 June - If you apply by this date you can join the program by paying the Regular Fee of €2,000.

Installation view from the exhibition Carlo And Luciana © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Carlo And Luciana © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition Chain Of Freedom © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Chain Of Freedom © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition In Almost Every Picture #1 © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition In Almost Every Picture #1 © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition Muddy Dance © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Muddy Dance © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition Human Zoo © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Human Zoo © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition Empty Chair © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Empty Chair © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition Carnival Queens © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Carnival Queens © Erik Kessels

Installation view from the exhibition Album Beauty © Erik Kessels
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Installation view from the exhibition Album Beauty © Erik Kessels