Sometimes words are inadequate to fully convey the full depth and breadth. This is one such occasion. I have started a new residency at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, MIMA. This is part of the Curatorial Commissions Programme led by DASH which includes MIMA, Wysing Arts Centre and MAC Birmingham, to support the development of Deaf and Disabled Curators. To say I was excited or thrilled just wouldn’t really begin to express my emotions.
I have been increasingly working with a curatorial aesthetic within my wider practice. I recently commissioned Duncan Speakman and Tineke de Meyer to respond to my ‘I was Naked, Smelling of Rain’ performance and installation and curated ‘Contested Spaces’ at the Foundry in London with Disability Arts Online, including hosting panels and a performance.
This opportunity feels like the missing piece of the jigsaw for me. I feel incredibly privileged. Unless you are lucky enough to have a job in an institution you tend not to get an insight into the methodologies and processes of how they work. As a freelance curator I tended not to deal with loan agreements or need to measure the ambient air temperature and humidity. As with many things in the ‘art world’ institutional curating was a heavily codified dark art and an exclusive club, particularly if you have a disability.
I will talk more of barriers to access in due course but for now institutions have not been at the forefront of radically accessible working practices. If you cannot fit in with normative working practices due to health related access issues, even though given your own agency you could fulfil the remit of the job, then there is a tendency for doors to remain firmly shut.
Thankfully the Curatorial Commissions Programme has access locked in from the get-go, no shoddy retro fitting because it hasn’t been thought of.
I got my new Ciak notebook ready for the occasion – a new project a new notebook and i had been saving this for something special
I am working with Elinor Morgan, Head of Programmes at MIMA. She has designed a programme of development which is bespoke to me, negotiated to focus on particular interests such as working with the collection or writing. It is a mixture of institutional practices and processes for which there are fixed formats, such as loan agreements or accessioning into the collection, and the more informal learning of being in the gallery during changeover and hanging. There is also all the ‘soft stuff’ such as conversations over lunch or passing in corridors. There would have been conferences too had it not been for covid19.
My associateship with MIMA is not just about me learning from them but also me imparting my knowledge and expertise around disability, access and inclusion. It is such a rarity to be working with an organisation who is open to change, who really has its eyes, ears and heart open in a genuine manner and not just wanting an exercise in box ticking. The way in which I have been welcomed and hosted is a testament to this.
I am looking forward to my year at MIMA. Of professional and personal development. I will be working towards a public outcome, as yet undecided. You can keep up to date with my progress at https://www.dasharts.org/projects/aidan-moesbys-curatorial-residency.html.
In other news – MIMA has the worlds smallest radiators