all those things are also ours, de lo blando en lo curatorial // 2020

Curadurías blandas (in English, ‘soft curating’) is a term coined by Colombian artist Gustavo Zalamea, arguably exploring the notion of the curatorial before it was identified as a subject area in the practice of exhibition-making.[1] In a sense, the notion of curaduría blanda is multi-sensorial instance of the now-acknowledged concept of the curatorial. In his work, Zalamea proposes a series of opaque and scattered strategies that unfolded in the ‘unauthorized’ sudaca field of practice.[2]

The present text entails a quasi-fictional account of a series of exhibitions that took place under the curadurías blandas umbrella during the late 1990s and early 2000s in Bogotá, Colombia. Curadorías blandas also includes a constellation of reviews, press and exhibition catalogues to dilute the limits that operate within the curatorial paradigm in the global north.

[1] Gustavo Zalamea. Arte en Emergencia. Bogotá: Instituto Distrital de Cultura y Turismo, 2000.

[2] Sudaca is a derrogative term for South Americans, mostly used in Spain.

‘Soft’ is not the accurate equivalent to the Spanish word blando. Other possible translations could be ‘light’, ‘gaseous’ or ‘weak’, and ‘anaemic’ or ‘pallid’ and ‘pale’. But none of these apply. Neither ‘diluted’, nor ‘gutless’, nor ‘unaccented’, nor ‘infirm’, nor ‘frail’, nor ‘dim’. Not even ‘elastic’ or ‘silky’, ‘smooth’ or ‘velvety’, ‘bendable’ or ‘ductile’. This trouble within the translation involves, in itself, a missed encounter that brings into play the multiplicity of the non-equivalence. I will use each word not as a synonym, but as an aphorism that explores mismatched translations of the notion of blandura (softness) in relation to a specific situation under the curaduría blanda umbrella term.[3]

Although the idea of curadurías blandas poses a distinct reference in the Colombian art context, its introduction raises a question about the untranslatability of the word blando and the impossibility of a general consensus on the meaning of such a word. Under the unsatisfaction of the inaccuracy, of diverse uses and meanings, one needs to come into terms with the challenges and potentialities of operating within the untranslatable.

[3] The word Blandura in Spanish arguably translates to softness inEnglish. My argument aims to complicate the immediate translation of the word.

All those things are also ours: de lo blando en lo curatorial. Institution as Praxis—New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research (ISBN 978-3-95679-506-0) pp. 74-85. Sternberg Press