Amateurs surveys a terrain of artistic practice that departs
from the hyperprofessionalization characterizing so much cultural
production today. Whether collaborating with actual amateurs or working
as amateurs in disciplines beyond the art world, the artists featured
in this exhibition refuse to let the experts have the last word. They
are committed instead to a democratization of artistic production—one
that often invites us, the viewers, to reflect upon our own role as
citizens in a participatory, democratic society.
Against the background of an increasingly professionalized art world, Amateurs will be the first major exhibition to survey recent artworks in which
amateurism is embraced as a critical aesthetic strategy and a mode of
production. Favored by conceptual artists and earlier by modernist
vanguards, an aesthetic of amateurism has long served as a means for
deflating models of academic and market-driven art.
Amateurs will develop an exhibition that challenges the
mainstream of contemporary art by bringing together artists who
elaborate on this tradition, embracing amateurism as a means for
questioning basic assumptions about authorship, expertise, the
relationship between artist and audience, and the contingency of
cultural values. Ultimately, the exhibition will provoke much-needed
reflection on the history of this tendency, and its continuing value in
challenging the limitations of professionalized art practices.
Amateurs is curated by Ralph Rugoff, former director of the
Wattis Institute and current director of the Hayward Gallery at the
South Bank Centre in London. It will be accompanied by a full-color
exhibition catalog with essays by Rugoff and the scholar John Roberts.