Sonja Acord: Beyond the head

Acord’s piece talks about how curators in the modern day art world have become more and more important in the process of “artistic meaning-making” in the display of art works. She underlines how the “exhibition of contemporary art communicates the object by contributing another layer of meaning or interpretation to the artist’s original intention”. In connection to this, it is interesting to think of adding this extra layer. Does it really add an extra layer, or does it create an invisible form for hierarchy in the art world, where the curator tries to influence the viewer into seeing the artwork as they expect it to be seen?

Acord uses Bourdieu’s theories of habitus and cultural capital to stress how curator’s are mediators of this artistic meaning-making, and how it is a “reference to and propagation of cultural codes, as linked to the mediator’s position”, which also really underlines the inherent hierarchy that is seen in the art world, a hierarchy which is also stressed by the fact that “museums buy what galleries promote, and critics justify their value” (449).

Through the act of curating we se how culture and art are “located and produced through personally-held values, and not only instantiated in the background as social conventions” (451) situating the meaning-making t specific individuals and institutions, and creating an evident bias.

Acord, S. K. Beyond the head: The practical work of curating contemporary art. Qualitative Sociology 33 (4), 447-467. Special Issue: Knowledge in Practice. 2010. Web.



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