Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Book Review: Curationism - David Balzer (2014)

In 40 not-very-densely-typed pages of Curationism (Pluto Press), David Balzer manages to undermine one of my more firmly entrenched ideas of myself, as well as my idealisation of work and one of my burgeoning fantasies. He also drags into the light one unpleasant truth I hadn't fully acknowledged.

These are, in turn:
  • That because I don't buy much, I'm not a mindless consumer (when actually I quite mindlessly consume many things; it's just that they're cheap or free).
  • That doing something you love as a job is exclusively a good thing (I still think it's mostly a good thing, but now I'm mindful of the danger of work, even the best kinds of work, being devalued by people agreeing to do it without being properly recompensed).
  • That curating is glamorous and I'd like to do it.
  • That I "curate" content for others using Twitter etc because I'm yearning to connect with people.
The ideas in Curationism may not all originate with Balzer, but no matter: he has - argh, don't, don't; yes, yes, I'm gonna - curated them (and rewritten and reformulated them, obviously) very well. And, of course, they were new to me.

Curationism describes the rise of curation in the art world and, more recently, in our daily lives, and then deftly considers its prospects in each. The first 90 pages, setting out the history of the subject matter, are not so deft as the final 40, but in keeping the whole short and ending so strongly Balzer gives us a book that feels timely, informative and insightful.

Perhaps most tellingly, he made me want to spend less time reading articles about contemporary culture online and more time reading well written and edited short books about it instead.

I still followed him on Twitter, though.

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