Continuous Curatorial Conversations
: An Exploration of the Role of Conversation within the Writing of a Supplementary History of the Curatorial

  • Alexandra C. M. Ross

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Continuous Curatorial Conversations is a practice-led exploration of conversation, both as a medium and as a tool for capturing supplementary histories of the curatorial. The primary question of this research project is how the medium of conversation can be explored to write supplementary histories of the curatorial which thus far have been omitted from extant publications on the subject. Three important sub questions guide this exploration. First, what is and has been the role of conversation within the curatorial? What are the possibilities and limitations within the medium of conversation? What roles do conviviality and hospitality play within the process of conversation?

    This thesis reflects upon a series of curated projects that explore the sp/pl/ace for curatorial conversation and also reviews a collection of one-to-one recorded conversations conducted by the author, including conversations with Alfredo Cramerotti, Hedwig Fijen, Mel Gooding, William Furlong and Sarah Lowndes. Sites of fieldwork include: the 54th Venice Biennale; Manifesta 8, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art; and Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2012. Through these projects and related recordings it unpicks the norms and possibilities of what and when one can record on the subject of the curatorial. The hypothesis of this study is that a great deal of curatorial activity is locked up in conversation, yet a disproportion makes it to the pages of the history of the field. Furthermore, in its clean transcribed form it misrepresents the fragility and nuance of the original exchange. The theoretical context of this research looks at Nicolas Bourriaud’s notion of Relational Aesthetics, the writing of Maria Lind and Paul O’Neill, with a focus on Audio Arts. A new methodology relating to curatorial conversation and its recording has therefore been identified as ‘critical conviviality’.

    The writing relating to Continuous Curatorial Conversations research takes the form of four books. The book ‘An Introduction’ comprises the PhD thesis and sits next to a bespoke online platform which hosts a selection of audio recordings collated during the research process. The books ‘Continuous’, ‘Curatorial’, and ‘Conversations’ unpack the lineage and context of Alexandra C M Ross’s practice and projects conducted during her research and are to be read in no strict order. The new knowledge resulting from this thesis and relating practice is the attention to the subtleties of conversation and its capture as it relates to the instigation, recording and presentation of semi-private matters in semi-public contexts.

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    Copyright of this work belongs to the author unless otherwise identified in the body of the thesis. It is permitted to use and duplicate this work only for personal and non-commercial research, study or criticism/review. You must obtain prior written consent from the author for any other use. Any quotation from this thesis must be
    acknowledged using the normal academic conventions. It is not permitted to supply the whole or part of this thesis to any other person or to post the same on any website or other online location without the prior written consent of the author. Contact the Discovery team ( with any queries about the use
    or acknowledgement of this work.

    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTracy Mackenna (Supervisor) & Edwin Janssen (Supervisor)


    • Curator
    • Curatorial
    • Curators
    • Conversation
    • Dialogue
    • Oral
    • Orality
    • Oral History
    • History
    • Food
    • Dining
    • Alcohol
    • Hospitality
    • Conviviality
    • Biennial
    • Biennale
    • Venice Biennale
    • Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art
    • Manifesta
    • Audio Arts
    • Polyphony
    • Recording
    • Audio
    • Transcription
    • Translation
    • Archive
    • Audio Archive
    • Online Platform
    • Tagging
    • Choreography
    • Dramaturge
    • Symposia
    • Critical Conviviality
    • Space
    • Place

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