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‘Curatela’: Towards an Unhurried Politics of Attention in Post-representational Curating

‘Curatela’: Towards an Unhurried Politics of Attention in Post-Representational Curating sets out to examine curating as a practice of embodied criticism, mobilising affects, and how to define the cultural institution as an instigator of a new social contract in the expanded field of contemporary cultural activity. Through a curatorial approach, ‘situated knowledge’ is examined as a relational condition and a speculative ethics, only able to operate under the paradoxical processes that render the multitude of relations, making visible and tangible the histories we think with, dissent within and think for. The post-francoist Spanish context serves as the framework of this practice-led investigation; and ‘Editing’, ‘Storytelling’ and ‘Caring’ are the three chapters putting to work experiences with history.

‘Editing (Thinking with)’ is set in Spain during the indignados movement in 2011 in order to problematise the crisis of representation and criticality and to claim the need of an unhurried politics of attention, an argument that stems from Concreta, a Spanish-language journal I co-founded in 2012 in the heat of the anti-austerity movements. ‘Storytelling (Dissenting within)’ steps back to the 1990s to explore the increasing mediation and professionalisation of a cultural activity invested in diluting the boundaries between authors, participants and audiences, and the convergence of an asynchronous institutional critique that paradoxically neglects what it advocated at first. Drawing on previous chapters, ‘Caring (Thinking for)’ discusses how to address care as a constituent part of a feminist practice, set in a framework of interdependence, but also alongside the processes of civil mediation. It proposes to embed the production of knowledge and exhibition making in worldly experiences, in order to make transparent how the way we think with others leads us to hold multiple ends of sometimes divergent positions.

Mining the often-strained relations between labour, cultural workers and institutional activism, this investigation ultimately argues that the practice of curating can contribute to learning from past experiences and claim, a ‘curatela', a sensitive middle ground to shape a set of common practices where the desire to interact with one another defines the set of conditions from which to collectively operate.

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More about Laura

Dr Laura Vallés-Vílchez is a cultural worker operating at the intersection between editing, curating, writing, translating and educating within the expanded field of the visual arts. Her academic work focuses on post-representational curating from an intersectional feminist perspective. Laura's research has been supported by a Botín Foundation Grant for Curatorial Studies (2016–18). Laura gained a practice-led PhD from the Royal College of Ar in London, where she lives and works as a Visiting Lecturer in Curating Contemporary Art.

In 2021, she was appointed UK Creative Director of the 4Cs From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture project. The 4Cs is a four-year EU funded programme led by Universidad Católica Portuguesa (Lisbon) in partnership with the Royal College of Art (London), Tensta Konstall (Spånga), SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin), Fundación Antoni Tàpies (Barcelona), Vilnius Academy of Arts (Vilnius), Museet for Samtidskunst (Roskilde) and ENSAD (Paris). Activities include the exhibition Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer with Oba: Nosferasta at Gasworks, curated with CCA alumnus Sabel Galvaldon, the film programme Sensible Grounds: That's How We Undo It at LUX, curated with Azar Mahmoudian, as well as seminars and workshops.

Laura's research is nourished by the labour she does as co-founder and director of Concreta: a Spanish non-profit organisation that publishes a peer-reviewed journal as well as a series of books since 2012. Her interest in institutions with one foot in pedagogical environments and another in public settings is grounded in previous experiences. This is the case of Afterall, a publishing organisation in Central Saint Martins in London and MoCP of Columbia University in Chicago, where she worked in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2022, Laura co-designed Articulacions: an experimental research programme at the IVAM museum in Valencia in partnership with Universitat de València and Universitat Politècnica de València.

As a curator, she has organised exhibitions such as Teresa Lanceta: Weaving as an Open Source at MACBA and IVAM (co-curator, 2022–23), Across the Sand at Azkuna Zentroa, Artium and CentroCentro (2019–20), Xisco Mensua. 15,600 Days at CCCC (co-curator, 2019) and It's Your Turn at EACC (2018). She was appointed the Artistic Director of the Myths of the Near Future Biennial at TEA (2019–20). 

Laura has participated in lectures and workshops at institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts (London), SOAS (London), The Institute for Endotic Research (Berlin), the University of Granada (Granada) and La Casa Encendida (Madrid) as well as translated authors including Donna Haraway, Moyra Davey and Paul B. Preciado. 

PhD 'Curatela': Towards an Unhurried Politics of Attention in Post-Representational Curating, Curating Contemporary Art Programme, School of Arts and Humanities, Royal College of Art (2016–22); MA in Photography, Polytechnic University of Valencia (2007–09); Fine Arts Degree, Polytechnic University of Valencia (2002–07)

2022–present: Academic Leader, Articulacions, Research Programme at IVAM (Valencia); 2021: Creative Director, 4Cs From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture, RCA (London): 2018–present: Visiting Lecturer, MA Curating Contemporary Art, School of Arts and Humanities, RCA (London); 2012–present: Co-founder and Editor, Concreta: non profit research and publishing organisation (online); 2010: Collection Assistant, MoCP: Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College (Chicago); 2009: Leonardo da Vinci Scholar, Afterall: publishing organisation at Central St Martins College of Art & Design (London)

Trajectories Award, Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània, Valencia (2018); Botín Foundation Curatorial Grant, Royal College of Art, London (2016); International Departure Fellowship: Gate 10, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena (2010); Leonardo da Vinci Fellowship, Afterall, London (2009); Erasmus Fellowship, Northumbria College, Newcastle upon Tyne (2006); Scholarship for Academic Excellence, UPV, Valencia (2002)

Botín Foundation Grant for Curatorial Studies, RCA, London (2016–18)

2022–23: Co-curator, Teresa Lanceta: Weaving as Open Source at MACBA (Barcelona) and IVAM (Valencia); 2021: 4Cs UK Director, Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer with Oba: Nosferasta at Gasworks (London) and Spike Island (Bristol); Sensible Grounds: That's How We Undo It at LUX (London); 2019–20: Curator, Across the Sand at CentroCentro (Madrid), Artium (Vitoria) and Azkuna Zentroa (Bilbao); 2019: Director and co-curator, Myths of the Near Future Biennial at TEA (Tenerife); 2019: Co-curator, Xisco Mensua. 15600 days at CCCC (Valencia); 2018: Curator, It's Your Turn at EACC (Castellón de la Plana)

CONTRIBUTING WRITER (SELECTION): 'Outside Witness: On the Historical Reception of the Potosí Principle', The Principio Potosí Archive, Berlin: Koenig Books, 2022; 'Across the Sand', AMA, 00, Artium, 2020; 'Archiving Voices: Collection and Collaboration in Spanish Contemporary Art', Photographies Journal, Routledge, 2020; 'Between Modernity and Tradition', Camera Austria 141, 2018; 'From the Tangle to the Spider's Web. On Stimulants: Circulation and Euphoria', Concreta, 09, 2017; 'Gently Revealing, Caring Hard, All Touching', in Anarchivo Sida, San Sebastián: Tabakalara, 2017; 'Somewhere Between Art and the World', Fundaçao Bienal de Sao Paulo, 2014; 'Murmur in the White Cube: On Iman Issa's Work', Concreta, 06, 2015; 'Aspen: the magazine in a box (1965–1971)', Concreta, 01, 2013

EDITOR (SELECTION): Vallés Vílchez, L.: Myths of the Near Future, Tenerife: TEA, 2022; Thiel, T., Hoste, A. and Enguita, N., Anna Boghiguian: A Short Long History. Sometimes Unexpectedly the Present meets the Past, Berlin: Koenig Books (2022); Enguita, N. and Buci-Glucksmann, C.: Per Amor a L'Art Collection. Ornament=Crime?, Valencia: Bombas Gens, 2017; Wells, L., París, N. and Cortés Rocca, P.: Bleda y Rosa. A Geography of Time, Valencia: Bombas Gens, 2017

TRANSLATOR (SELECTION): Terranova, F., Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (film), Atelier Graphoui, 2017; Davey, M., Quema los diarios, Valencia: Concreta, 2020; Preciado, Paul B., A Voice for Eraso. Epilogue for a Trans Time, Bilbao: Azkuna Zentroa, 2022