Curatorial Research Bureau
Curatorial Research Bureau
Install-Case Studies.jpg

Issue 4, Dec 2018

A monthly communiqué featuring news on programs, publications, exhibitions, students, and faculty with content and activities threaded together by a guiding theme.


In this issue

“Corporate Mentality”→ Art Against Art: Issue #4→ Variable Capital→ Dashiell Manley: The New York Times PaintingsInstitutional Attitudes: Instituting Art in a Flat WorldOccupational InformationErik van Lieshout: The Show Must Ego OnVivre, Vaincre→ Here Is Where I Walk: The Walk as Re-creation in the City→ Open House for Prospective Grad Students→  CRB Holiday Sale→ Case Studies: Corporate Mentality→ Fiona Ball→ James Voorhies→ Leslie Carol Roberts→ Grace Kook-Anderson


A bookshop, a learning site, an exhibition and public program, Curatorial Research Bureau unites education and consumerism inside a contemporary arts institution, prioritizing context—of art, ideas, people, places, and things—as an active ingredient in the practice of curatorial research.


Made possible with funding and support from California College of the Arts and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Produced by Bureau for Open Culture, in collaboration with Motto Books.

This Month

Museums act like corporations. Universities act like corporations. Individuals increasingly act like corporations. These summary statements about the influence of corporate strategies on cultural institutions are common reflections about the direction of society. The shift to using corporatized models is not completely new, especially in the realm of art. The critically reflexive work of New Institutionalism that emerged in the 1990s alongside the relational art promoted by figures such as French theorist and curator Nicolas Bourriaud showed us that art institutions and curators adopt the corporate vernacular of media, online technologies and advertising agencies to address their audiences (/consumers). Terms such as “laboratory,” “discussion platform,” “distribution channel,” and “think tank” emerged around that time and are now regularly used to describe exhibition and museum programs. The ambition was to create more active social connections among art, space and spectator with an intention to reshape the role of art institutions in culture through expanded notions of exhibitions and participation. The aspiration was to critique the exclusionary characteristics of museums and galleries by inhabiting familiar corporate models, delivering accessible ways of speaking to consumers/audiences. 

Fast forward to the close of 2018: We routinely experience the corporate strategies not only of art institutions but other creative and cultural platforms including academic institutions. Globally, the laissez-faire—“scrappy”—art school and non-profit art centers have taken a decidedly corporate turn in how they administer day-to-day operations. Individuals, too, use branding strategies to project their experiences and lifestyles into the public realm. Since the onset of Facebook, and now Instagram, personal identities are put into the world with a level of sophistication beyond the wildest dreams only less than ten years ago of advertising agencies.

Curatorial Research Bureau sits between two institutions. Both institutions use corporate methodologies in administrative operations while understandably grappling with the unavoidable difference between this adopted behavior and their founding legacies. At the CRB we have therefore decided to concentrate this month on the theme “Corporate Mentality.” The theme is borrowed from the title of Polish-born Aleksandra Mir’s 2003 publication Corporate Mentality, the focal point of our fourth Case Studies. As you’ll read on that page, Mir’s book documents a selection of artistic practices from 1995 to 2001 that “take on business as site, as material, as subject of their work.” Curatorial Research Bureau is by no means isolated from this phenomenon. It appropriates corporate mentalities by deploying the communication, branding, and audience-building strategies akin to a company (or now an institution). And we rely on one of the most accessible forms of consumerism—the existing aesthetics of a bookshop—to convene a community of consumers (/audiences) around the programs and work we do. What impact does this critical appropriation have? That’s beyond the scope of this issue of the CRB Dispatch (and yet to be seen). But what better moment than the hyper-capitalist month of December to think about the grasp of corporate and consumer cultures on our daily lives and relationships with cultural institutions? Our books are for sale. Our programs are free.   

James Voorhies, Chair, CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice

In the Bookshop


Selected CRB Programs

on View

Case Studies: Corporate Mentality

Our fourth Case Studies exhibition uses the 2003 publication Corporate Mentality, edited by John Kelsey and Aleksandra Mir, as a launching point. This book documents the emergence of artistic practices that exist within and are occupied by both business and art.

California College of the Arts Seminar Highlight


Exhibition Project 1

This course is the first in a two-part seminar extending over both semesters of the second year of graduate studies in curatorial practice, culminating in the production of a thesis exhibition. Through readings, visits to exhibitions, and discussions with faculty (including the program’s Curator-in-Residence) about current discourses and topics in contemporary art and curating, students develop a proposal for an exhibition and public program for presentation at CCA’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in April 2019.

From California College of the Arts Curatorial Practice

CCA Student

Fiona Ball

CCA Faculty

James Voorhies


Leslie Carol Roberts

CCA Alum

Grace Kook-Anderson

On View at Institutions Nearby


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Laura Parnes’ Blood and Guts in High School


California College of the Arts

Now What?! Advocacy, Activism, and Alliances in American Architecture since 1968


Crown Point Press

Darren Almond: The Light of Time



Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World

CRB Dispatch Archive

Issue 1, Sep 2018: “Institution”
Issue 2, Oct 2018: “Audience”
Issue 3, Nov 2018: “Place”
Issue 4, Dec 2018: “Corporate Mentality”