There is also the question of in whose interest the author position is disassembled. Some have argued that the “death of the author” was announced just as women and minorities gained access to that position. “It does not seem that the amelioration or the obviation of the subject is in the political best interest of the minority,” wrote the conceptual artist Charles Gaines in his 1993 essay “The Theater of Refusal.” “To do so would leave the minority either outside of representation, or continue her subjection. The presence of the subject is essential for the implementation of political power.” As contemporary curatorial discourse aims to include voices from outside the dominant provinces, it will be worth keeping Gaines’s cautions in mind.
To call up “authorship” on these terms is not necessarily to glorify (or mystify) the curator’s labor, but precisely to provoke such questions: to make curators’ selections and exclusions a subject of inquiry and self-reflection. This is the potential, at least: to register the exhibition’s framing of the world as particular. If I still reserve certain questions for Hoffmann’s picture of curatorial authorship—I wonder about a counter-thread of exhibition making that privileges democratic inclusion, or that sets its task as making visible orders that already exist, and that are not therefore imposed or selected in the way he imagines—I see this as the value of the position the editors established in The Exhibitionist’s early days.