Music, Curationism, and the end of the Avant-Garde

Beyoncé and Jay Z at the Louvre (detail). Source: Instagram.
Pluto Press and Repeater Books present Music, Curationism, and the end of the Avant-Garde.

The contemporary mania for curating has affected many aspects of culture, including (perhaps especially) music, popular and otherwise. This panel discussion explores music’s unique relationship with curating: How and when have the art and music worlds intersected? How did hip-hop and turntablism in the 1980s use a curatorial sensibility to redefine music? What was the impact of the retro movement of the 1990s, epitomized by indie bands such as Stereolab and Saint Etienne and the emergence of crate-digging labels such as Soul Jazz? How did the proliferation of art schools in that decade affect music making? How has the contemporary pop star, from Madonna and Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, used a curatorial approach to shape their persona? And how have our ways of listening to music, past and present, been informed by curating?

Participating in this event:

David Balzer is a critic, editor, and teacher based in Toronto, and has contributed to publications including The Believer, Modern Painters, ARTnews, and Capital New York. He is author of Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else (Pluto Press, 2015,

Frances Morgan is Deputy Editor at The Wire magazine. She writes on music, film, and gender.

Salomé Voegelin is a Swiss artist and author of Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (Continuum, 2010) and Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Adam Harper is a music critic and musicologist. He writes for publications including The Fader and The Wire, and on his blog, Rouges Foam ( He is the author of Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making (Zer0, 2011).

Music, Curationism, and the end of the Avant-Garde
Saturday 2 May, 3:00pm
Brilliant Corners
470 Kingsland Road

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