An appreciation of the tension between the predicate, "to curate," and the subject, "the curator," is essential to understanding the convergence of creation, criticism, and administration in the graphic arts of our time. Curators were ideally positioned to step to the fore when the idea-versus-object dichotomy began to collapse in the work of Duchamp. The roots of activist curating can be found in Western Classical culture. The prevalence of conceptual art at the end of the twentieth century, combined with the explicit denigration of physical craft by artists, created a void into which activist curators moved. The curator's role as educator and referee in artistic style wars needs to be reexamined in light of contemporary analyses of the nature of power. Our understanding of the nexus of art-making, criticism, and curating is profoundly compromised by our skill in suppressing the many pious fictions upon which these activities are founded.

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