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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Siavash Minoukadeh

Siavash Minoukadeh is a cinema worker and writer based in London. Their practice addresses work and play through the use of temporal projects and events. He aims to unpick the pressures of individual and institutional labour which bind us to our present and to present in their place a pre-figurative queer future where pleasure is the end and the means by which we reach it.

Their work is transdiciplinary and irreverent, consciously undermining demarcations between various media and between art and other fields which can serve as barriers between the discursive and the enactive. His recent work has presented sources ranging from Forough Farrokhzad to Troye Sivan via an Australian nursing union, with these diverse sources tied together by how they are able to pick out specks of hope within the mundanity of the present. Alongside artists, filmmakers and archives, their collaborators have also included musicians, activists and Youtube fan compilation creators. 

Their recent output has taken the form of one-off screenings, discussion groups and club nights. It has also taken the form of education, outreach, marketing and production for institutional projects, involving creating social media content, transcribing videos and writing brochure copy, amongst other similar tasks which may not be thought of as part of a ‘practice' but which have taken up more time and provided more of an income than the forms of work which that term may traditionally be thought to encompass.

His dissertation explored the potential practices of pleasure including, poppers, camp and cruising hold and how they can be used to form a future-leaning curatorial practice. These ideas were also present in their graduate project, O.T.O, a club night they curated at FOLD, as part of a group working with LUX.

Whilst studying on the Curating Contemporary Art programme, they have worked with or at Watershed, Close-Up Film Centre and the British Film Institute. They were shortlisted for the 2022 Michael O’Pray Prize for new writing on moving image and their writing has been published by Art Monthly, Where's The Frame and Open City Documentary Festival, amongst others. They are currently Programme & Marketing Assistant for Open City Documentary Festival.

A figure with pink hair seated in front of a white wall with two paintings hung on it. They are wearing a navy shirt and jeans.
There’s only two types of people in the world: the ones that entertain, and the ones that observe - and baby I’m a put on a show kind of girl. 

- Britney Spears, Circus

A grey background with text reading O.T.O A Night of Artists' Music Video and Live Programming. A Lux Project At Fold, London
Launch Project

OTO (One Time Only) was a live exhibition held at FOLD London, on 11 May 2023, which moved outside of the typical white cube to a nightclub. OTO, taking place away from the exhibitionary and on the late-night dance floor, activating the audience in that space.This curatorial intervention responded to our interest in the themes of music, liveness and bodies within the moving image and asked what the intersection of these topics could look and feel like. At the same time, we aimed to review the status of the music video and its place within the field of moving image.

The night consisted of three distinct sets featuring new work by artists Tarzan Kingofthejungle, Anna Clegg, Ahaad Alamoudi and Adam Farah-Saad, with DJ sets by HabibTati and Hellikisto. The sets were punctuated by screenings of David Hall’s series of works, ‘TV Interruptions ‘93’. Further information can be found on the On the Night page.

Further elements of the project consisted of creative curatorial writings, presented on this website as a series of rushes, inspired by the raw tapes which are produced during a day of shooting. These texts explore the connection between music videos and wider culture with greater specificity, responding to individual geographical and personal contexts or selected music videos. The texts are presented alongside a foreword by Lewis G. Burton. 

The project also included digital commissions produced for the LUX instagram account by artists Hugo Hutchins and Maria Mahfooz.

A collage of queer nightlife posters under a vitrine. Dannii Minogue's name is prominent

Whilst recent years have seen a rise in major curatorial projects about LGBT+ people, most have continued to adhere to straight curatorial conventions which may represent LGBT+ people but do not act queerly. This dissertation examined queer practices of pleasure as a source from which an alternative framework can be drawn. A continuing need to seek out and find pleasure accompanied by a somewhat increased tolerance for discussions of queerness and sex has enabled acts such as cruising to be studied seriously as acts of alternative worldbuilding. This dissertation drew on these studies to identify the principles which underpin a range of queer practices, applying them to the curatorial to show how they can overcome conventional regimes of representation.

Primarily using an analysis of the exhibition Out and About! Archiving LGBTQ+ history at Bishopsgate Institute which took place at London’s Barbican Centre in the spring of 2022, I examined how queer pleasure can be achieved through an alternative understanding of existing curatorial strategies. Where existing practice has not fully articulated the potential of queer pleasure and new strategies are called for, I built upon, and in some instances away from, the example of Out and About! to envisage a model of queer, pleasurable curating, bringing in other examples where relevant.

Each chapter is focussed on a specific queer practice, outlining how it operates, what the principles behind it are and how these principles can be applied to the curatorial with practical analysis. Through setting out the euphoric ability of poppers to prefigure a better future, the performativity of camp’s resignification of cultural value and the paradoxical fluid permanence of cruising spaces, I sough to articulate what an understanding of the curatorial that is oriented around queer pleasure could look like and be able to achieve. 

A pink poster with an image of a man in a wheelchair. Overlaid text describes the programme, and its date and location

This was the first programme from Treatment, an irregular series of film programmes curated by Siavash Minoukadeh that uses film to explore how the tools and institutions of care and health have engaged with, and often worked against, individual subjecthood.

The programme consisted of a screening of Forough Farrokhzad’s 1963 documentary The House is Black alongside Stephen Dwoskin’s essay film Face of our Fear from 1992, preceded by an introduction.

Full programme notes can be found below.