Behind every great artist is a great curator. But what do they actually do? Serpentine superstar Hans Ulrich Obrist reveals the delights and dangers of his craft – while Yoko Ono, David Shrigley and more pick their all-time favourite show.
Diaghilev and Cocteau tried to explain what they did with the words: “Etonnez moi!” Astonish me. I’ve never had an art practice, and I’ve never thought of the curator as a creative rival to the artist. When I became a curator, I wanted to be helpful to artists. I think of my work as that of a catalyst – and sparring partner.
Joseph Beuys talked about expanding the notion of art. I’m trying to expand the notion of curating. Exhibitions need not only take place in galleries, need not only involve displaying objects. Art can appear where we expect it least.