Magazine article Artforum International

DAN CAMERON ON Collins & Milazzo

Magazine article Artforum International

DAN CAMERON ON Collins & Milazzo

Article excerpt

Before Collins & Milazzo, "independent curator" was a sleepy designation for moonlighting art critics and academics. After the pair's roaring descent on the scene circa 1984, it became a full-blown job description. A visit to a show organized by the twosome was an instant entree to a world in which cool Conceptualism, an overheated market, and French theory in overdrive shared the same bed; for artists, being tapped by the curatorial duo meant that suddenly one's work was part of the discourse. It was a heady time, made even more so by the deliberate ambiguity fostered by the curators themselves over the role they played in marketing the work they championed.

While permanently altering the nature of curatorial practice in the US, Collins & Milazzo's role as catalyst in the late-'80s neo-Conceptual takeover of the East Village was no less decisive. Even a cursory study of the former couple's resume is enough to make the current generation of peripatetic curators blush: in the course of a decade, from March 1984 to May 1993, a mind-boggling forty-four exhibitions, virtually all accompanied by catalogues, or at least a co-authored text. In many cases, the verbal pyrotechnics and occasional lapses into self-parody outweighed the work on view. Unsurprisingly, the pair's most fertile period came early, with a series of groundbreaking minisurveys of new art, whose titles still read like postmodern primers: "Still Life with Transaction," "The New Capital," and "Paravision. …

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