At Má Pêche Panel, ‘Curators’ Defend Their Ownership of the Term and Vilify the Plebeians of Tumblr

A well-dressed crowd, including many senior members of the MoMA staff, turned up to contemplate the state of contemporary curation at Friday’s 56th Street Round Table at Má Pêche, hosted by the New York Public Library and Momofuku.

The panelists—Jeremy Geffen, the director of artistic planning at Carnegie Hall, Julia Hoffmann, the creative director of advertising and graphic design at MoMA, Maria Popova, the founder and editor of Brain Pickings, and moderator Elias Altman, the associate editor of Lapham’s Quarterly conceded almost immediately that none of them considered themselves curators—a point which would be interrogated throughout the discussion.

In his introduction to the subject at hand, Mr. Altman noted that the word “curation” has come to be thrown around “more often than a ping pong ball at a fraternity house,” alluding somewhat disdainfully to a dissemination of “curation” to the masses, a phenomenon which he would later attribute to the Internet.  He questioned: “Is the new definition of curation, like, ‘I assemble things on my Tumblr and then I put them up for the world?’ Is that why we don’t want to be called curators?”
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