Harald Szeemann, Museum of Obsessions [Museu de Obsessões], 1977.
Harald Szeemann in his Agentur für geistige Gastarbeit (Agency for intellectual guest labour), 1994.
Swiss curator Harald Szeemann (1933–2005) helped to bring neo-avant-garde artistic movements of the 1960s and 70s—including post-minimalism, performance art, land art, conceptual art, and institutional critique—to prominence through exhibitions such as When Attitudes Become Form (1969), Happenings and Fluxus (1970), and documenta 5 (1972). But such risk taking came with consequences. Szeemann’s support of controversial artists cost him professional security. Shortly after establishing himself as an independent curator, he founded the Museum of Obsessions, a fictive “museum” through which he exacted his critique of the conservatism of the institutions of art and art history and outlined the stakes of his curatorial practice. Though this autonomous “institution” remains obscure today, the Museum of Obsessions amounts to Szeemann’s grandest endeavor. The mythological museum reveals the foundation of his methodology and concerns as an independent exhibition maker who dramatically expanded conventional definitions of artistic practice and of the museum as an institution.
Harald Szeemann (Berna, Suíça, 1933 – Ticino, Itália, 2005) curador…