Curatorial Research Bureau
Curatorial Research Bureau

Issue 2, Oct 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

“Audience”→ 1730 Great HighwayHospitality→ The Auroville ProjectAsking the AudienceSUPERCOMMUNITYArtwork as Social ModelImagining the Audience→ Piney Woods Atlas→ Barbara Pollack→ Amanda Hunt→ Simon Fujiwara→ Experience It: Simon Fujiwara→ Case Studies: The Absent Museum→ Naz Cuguoğlu→ Dena Beard→ Zoë Ryan→ Jacqueline Clay


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.

Curatorial Research Bureau at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco is the hub of learning for the California College of the Arts Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice.


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

The theme this month at the CRB is “Audience.” Many museums and arts centers have an institutional narrative. The narrative often reflects the collection a museum holds or, if the institution doesn’t have a collection, the ideas and values associated with the artists shown, exhibitions presented, and programs offered. The narrative typically helps to communicate the mission of an institution. An institutional narrative does not speak in one direction; it is responsive to context—history, geography, the social demographics of a place.

With this attention to place, there is an inherent sense of reciprocity in the concept of audience. Any institution, like any dance, music, or theater performance is precisely that: a performance for the public realm. Institutions, like people, behave. They have character. An institution’s performance therefore conforms to humanity’s innate need to respond to others. Indeed, institutions react to the presence of others, whether the actual existence of a nearby community or the ephemeral audience radiating around an institution via social media networks. And like dance, music, and theater—does the performance exist without the reciprocity of an audience? One who runs an institution must comparatively ask: does an institution exist without the reciprocal company of others? 

The question of audience vis-à-vis institutions naturally leads one to consider community. Who is addressed by an institution and to whom does an institution speak? What do they—the community—have at stake in what is spoken? These are important questions for us at CRB, as with many institutions, particularly today as material culture and immaterial ideas disperse into the world through different points, from the screen of a phone to the space of a contemporary arts center. And so as CRB develops, our attention to this question will filter through every facet of our activity, from the public programs to the private seminars. Analyzing and continually refining the narrative, how we speak and with whom is part of our ongoing curatorial research.

This month we draw on a selection of publications to think about audience. The 2017 publication The Absent Museum: Blueprint for a Museum of Contemporary Art for the Capital of Europe serves as a departure point for this inquiry into the reciprocal relationship between audience and institution. With that book in mind, we have identified eight titles in the CRB inventory that provide complementary and divergent ways for getting even closer to the important role arts institutions have in speaking with—not to—their audiences.  

James Voorhies, Chair, CCA Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice

In the Bookshop


Selected CRB Programs

on View

Case Studies: The Absent Museum

The Absent Museum: Blueprint for a Museum of Contemporary Art for the Capital of Europe was published in 2017 on the occasion of an exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of WIELS, a contemporary arts center in Brussels. As a kunsthalle (an institution without a permanent collection), WIELS was founded with the challenge and opportunity to be in dialogue with the regional community of Brussels and the international audience beyond Europe’s capital. How can an arts center speak with constituents from a range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and how can those constituents find something at stake in what a new institution like WIELS says? Within the context of institutional narratives introduced in this issue of CRB Dispatch, we are drawn to essays and documentation of artworks in The Absent Museum and their investigations of how an institution behaves and speaks with audiences.

California College of the Arts Seminar Highlight


Art and Experiences

Emphasizing firsthand encounters with artworks through visits to local collections and current exhibitions, this seminar imparts techniques of formal observation, conceptual understanding, and verbal argumentation about individual works of art. Through constant engagement with a range of art objects, students will establish a familiarity with the tools of both textual and verbal art analysis, and the confidence to share this knowledge through public address.

From California College of the Arts Curatorial Practice

CCA Student

Naz Cuguoğlu

CCA Faculty

Dena Beard


Zoë Ryan

CCA Alum

Jacqueline Clay

On View at Institutions Nearby


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Donald Judd:
Specific Furniture


Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Bay Area Now 8


Jessica Silverman Gallery

Woody De Othello: Living Room

CRB Dispatch Archive

Issue 1, Sep 2018: “Institution”
Issue 2, Oct 2018: “Audience”
Issue 3, Nov 2018: “Place”
Issue 4, Dec 2018: “Corporate Mentality”
Issue 5, Jan 2019: “Counter Education”
Issue 6, Feb 2019: “Distribution as Practice”
Issue 7, Mar 2019: “Design Forward”
Issue 8, Apr 2019: “Support”
Issue 9, May 2019: “Pedagogy”