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The Rooms Theatre
Saturday, June 15, 2019
1:15 – 2:30 pm

This panel will consider didactic texts and other institutional voices that are writ upon the walls of our exhibitions and displays. Every institution approaches the development and application of various written materials in exhibition spaces differently. They often have guidelines for word count, reading difficulty, terminology that can (or cannot) be used, and overall aesthetics in the space. But what is being overlooked and how can the form(s) become more radical and vital in our exhibitions? What communities and colonial legacies can be addressed in these forms? This moderated panel discussion will probe the boundaries of the writings on the wall to think again about the exhibition text and curatorial writing.

1:15 – 1:30 pm
Introduction by Darryn Doull, Curator of Canadian Art, The Rooms

“We want to imagine a new eloquence. Is it asking too much of our public conversation? It’s great to be convinced, but it would be even better to be convinced by some evidence. When and where does the curator write and what is left unsaid?

1:30 – 1:45 pm
Dr. Laurie Dalton, Director/Curator, Acadia University Art Gallery + Adjunct Professor, Dept. of History and Classics, Acadia University

Voices on the Walls: Museums interrogating their collections

This presentation will present an overview of case studies that demonstrate how museums in Canada and internationally have been interrogating the history of their collections. I will discuss how labels and didactic text are being re-imagined in exhibitions to acknowledge colonial museum practices. The paper will also explore the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in terms of exhibition design that works to present multiple narratives simultaneously.

1:45 – 2:00 pm
Pan Wendt, Confederation Centre Art Gallery

Wendt will offer a set of narratives of the curatorial text, from its conception to its final realization, caught in a web of competing briefs and constraints. He is talking about this story from a variety of perspectives along a continuum, ranging from that of what David Balzer called a “glorified project manager” – that is, an overworked institutional exhibition mechanic – to that of a sublimated author-artist.

2:00 – 2:15 pm
Christophe Barbeau, Independent Curator + Visual Artist, Toronto / Montreal

This presentation will be an overview of his latest project: «Qu’avons-nous fait? Nous nous étions dit non, pas de ces textes convenus, préfaces, articles des professionnels du catalogue.1»; from the exhibition text to the curatorial text, as well as an introduction to the research that culminated in this exhibition. 



A curator writes.

  1. But what does a curator write? ‘Exhibition texts’?


In front of the task of writing an ‘exhibition text,’ what does the curator write? A discursive commission to fill in the space at the nexus of the ‘Public,’ the ‘Institution,’ the ‘Artists and their works,’ and the ‘Exhibition?’ Can the curator write outside of the ‘textes convenus,’ ‘préfaces,’ and ‘articles des professionnels du catalogue’? What if the curator wrote as a curator? What if the curator wrote within the same deontology as when producing exhibitions?

2:15 – 2:30 pm
Group Discussion

An opportunity to counteract previous arguments or invoke technical capacities and other perceived limitations. Open Q&A.



Christophe Barbeau: b. 1992, Quebec City. Following the completion of a BFA in Quebec City at Université Laval, Barbeau has completed the Master of Visual Studies, Curatorial Studies, at the University of Toronto, during which his research was to look for a political understanding of the positionality of the “curator” through the concept of “authorship”. His latest exhibitions were entitled: «Qu’avons-nous fait? Nous nous étions dit non, pas de ces textes convenus, préfaces, articles des professionnels du catalogue.1»; from the exhibition text to the curatorial text; and : «and I am the curator of this show1», presented Art Museum University of Toronto in 2018. 

Dr. Laurie Dalton brings over 15 years of multi-faceted gallery experience, which includes a successful track record in curating, public programming, collections stewardship, and fiscal planning. She currently sits on CCPERB an independent federal administrative tribunal that works to protect and preserve Canadian cultural property. In addition, she is a board member of the Creative NS Leadership Council, vice-Chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Award, and current president of APAGA. In addition, she brings over a decade of academic research and teaching in art history, museums and cultural studies. Her research is cross-disciplinary with a focus on Canadian visual culture, museums, and display within transnational frameworks.

Darryn Doull is a curator, writer and musician based in St. John’s, NL / Toronto, ON with a focus on positioning historical and contemporary Canadian art as a vital force across social, economic and political concerns. After receiving the Hnatyshyn Foundation Fogo Island Arts Emerging Curator Residency in 2015, Doull completed the MVS Curatorial Studies program at the University of Toronto. He is the former Assistant Curator of the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery and the current Curator of Canadian Art at The Rooms.

Pan Wendt has been Curator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, P.E.I. since 2010. He has worked as a critic, art historian, researcher and freelance curator, and is currently a sessional in art history at the University of Prince Edward Island. He studied art history at Williams College (M.A., 2003) and Yale University (M.A., 2004, MPhil., 2006). Since 2004 he has organized nearly 100 exhibitions. He and P.E.I. artist Becka Viau are behind Art in the Open, Charlottetown’s ephemeral art festival, which he co-curated from 2011 to 2019, and he was on the core team and part of the curatorial committee for the Flotilla conference in 2017. He has served on numerous juries, including the Sobey Art Award, RBC Painting Award, Canada Council for the Arts, P.E.I. Council of the Arts, and BMO First Art Award.