Why is everything curated these days? Examining the work of popular music curation
Keywords:curation, curation work, narrative, identity, community, belonging, collectivity
Beginning with consideration of why the term ‘curation’ has come to be so ubiquitous in popular culture, this special issue looks at the ways in which curation work today happens across an array of popular music activity. More than simply selecting a range of interesting objects, the imperative to be community-oriented is embedded within contemporary curatorial practice. Hence, much modern curation work is narrative in nature: telling a compelling story not just through a static collection and presentation of artefacts to a single, monolithic audience but through dynamic and multiply iterated discourse with a range of audiences, communities and stakeholders. The articles in this collection all examine how the work of music curation illustrates a form of community and belonging, either through participation and engagement with some type of music activity or in acknowledgement of how others are either liminally or overtly excluded from it. Whilst cultural commentators and writers tend to treat the application of the word ‘curation’ in extra-museum environments with an element of disdain, the articles in this special issue demonstrate that the ultimate value of curation in both popular culture and popular music is its power to communicate stories that foster new forms of community, identity and collectivity in an increasingly disaggregated and isolating world.
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Bhaskar, M. 2016. Curation: The Power of selection in a world of excess. London: Piatkus.
Bonini, T. and Gandini, A. 2019. “First Week is Editorial, Second Week Is Algorithmic”: Platform Gatekeepers and the Platformization of Music Curation. Social Media + Society, 5(4), 1-11.
Carr, P. 2019. Introduction to the special issue: Lost music histories – Curating and documenting local popular music-making in the UK. Popular Music History, 12(1), 5-14.
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Crenn, G. 2015. Negotiating the values of popular music in the museum: Curatorial process and exhibition narratives in the ABBAWORLD exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Popular Music History, 10(2), 138-153.
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Stevens, M., Flinn A. and Shepherd, E. 2010. New frameworks for community engagement in the archive sector: from handing over to handing on. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 16(1-2), 59-76.
Wicks, A. 2018. The Rise of Artist Curated Festivals. https://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2018/04/the-rise-of-artist-curated-festivals.html [Accessed 23 August 2020].
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