When Anna Davis discusses being a curator, she talks about collaboration, conversation and experimentation. At one point, Davis sums up her curatorial practice like this: “It’s about working with artists and working with ideas.” Having held the position of Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) for the past decade, Davis has curated a vast array of contemporary exhibitions, which she discusses in a new four-part series Conversations with Curators.
Aiming to understand the processes and ideas behind curating, Conversations with Curators will feature four curators who talk about what curating means to them. For Davis, curating largely revolves around forging collaborative relationships. “I would describe myself as an artist-led curator,” she says during the podcast. “I am most interested in working collaboratively and closely with artists to develop their ideas and to give them a platform to experiment and create new works or new experiences through their work.”
In achieving these ends, Davis has worked with many prominent Australian and international artists including Hayden Fowler, Patricia Piccinini and Sun Xun, and has curated major solo survey exhibitions on Jenny Watson and Louise Hearman. Most recently, Davis co-curated The National 2019: New Australian Art, a three-part exhibition showing across MCA, Carriageworks and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The MCA iteration of The National 2019: New Australian Art saw Davis collaborate with Cloathilde Bullen, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Exhibitions and Collections at MCA, to curate an exhibition that focussed on a fluid, non-unified sense of ‘national art’ and ‘national identity’.
During the podcast Davis discusses the process of working with well-known artists and curating large-scale shows like The National. She also talks about how she came to curating, what her past life as a “lapsed artist” offers her curatorial practice, why she doesn’t believe that curating is becoming more risk averse, and the ethical implications of her work.
Podcast produced by Tiarney Miekus. Engineered by Mino Peric. Music by Jesse Warren.