A polemical essay targeting the moral economy
of indeterminacy in contemporary art.
Traction argues that contemporary art is defined by a moral economy of indeterminacy that allows curators and artists to imagine themselves on the other side of power. This self-positioning, in turn, leaves us politically bankrupt, intellectually stagnant, and aesthetically predictable. In his memoir-polemic, curator and writer Tirdad Zolghadr candidly reflects on his own experiences and the work of others. He also drafts possibilities for a logic and a support structure that can offer some purchase of their own, beyond the gravitational pull of business as usual. Ultimately, Traction calls for a renewed sense of profession, somewhere within the corridors of power where, for better or worse, contemporary art has long arrived.
A founding member of the Shahrzad
design collective (with Shirana Shahbazi
), Tirdad Zolghadr is an independent writer/curator based in Berlin. He writes for frieze
and other publications, and is editor-at-large for Cabinet
magazine. Zolghadr most recently organized the national pavilion of the United Arab Emirates, Venice Biennale 2009, and the long-term project Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie (with Nav Haq). He's a curatorial advisor to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Zolghadr currently teaches at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.