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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Curate a whole new world

Srishti Jha, Hindustan Times   March 23, 2013
First Published: 21:29 IST(23/3/2013) | Last Updated: 01:37 IST(24/3/2013)

The world of curation has grown beyond the field of art and has moved into various other areas for good. Curation now is linked with any activity that involves choosing and selection based on a particular aesthetic.

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People have discovered an appetite for curation as a profession and a much needed effort in various areas. From food to technology, from fashion to home décor, from seminars to online content, from cinema to music, from events to festivals,everything seems to be following this practice and practitioners say its worth it and it's a much awaited change.

Says Pawan Deshpande, CEO, Curata, a company that specialises in solutions for curating content for organizations, "In recent years, curation has grown dramatically because the access to, availability of, and amount of content both online (blogs, video, audio, and images) and offline (food, clothing, retail products, even people) has also dramatically grown as well."

He adds, "These days anyone can create and share their content. This is a blessing because we now have access to many more perspectives and ideas than before. But it's also a curse because we are also faced with an enormous amount of irrelevant low-quality content. With the exponential increase of content online, there is a greater need and urgency to curate and surface up the best and most relevant content."

The word 'curate', its derived from the Latin word curare which means 'taking care'. In the traditional context, a curator was more about  selecting and interpreting works of art and art organizations, heritage materials and  cultural objects. But in the present times, we see that the core meaning being applied to  all creative areas. Its all about putting the right things at the right place at the right time. Says culture critic Ashok Vajpeyi who feels it's a much awaited development, "Anything that is made for people to appreciate and absorb can't be an amorphous and random selection of events or things. The vision for relevance also refines the taste of the viewer and leads to appropriate ideas and works coming up. Curation is a much needed development in a lot of areas."

Home décor is one area where curation seems to be catching up a lot. People who love to do their homes are depending upon design curators for suggestions. Says Jawad Ayaz, CEO, Zansaar.com, "Zansaar.com's Curation Program is an extension of our desire to personalise the shopper's experience. As part of this program, we ask people to put together a collection of products from our website in accordance with a theme or idea. When we first started this program, we invited artists, designers, architects, chefs, bloggers and entrepreneurs to share their curated collections on our site." Its about puttiing the selected ideas together.Says interior designer Arjun Sodhi, " Interior designing and interior curation are different areas.Curation comes into picture in home décor when you are putting every idea and object you picked and designed as one artwork in a picture perfect setup."

Curating a meal and the ambience is another trend on the block. A high profile wedding or a customized party or a buffet at a multi-national company's seminar reflects where curation comes into picture in terms of food. It's not only about spotting the right menu or a trend but also it is also about putting together the apt culinary package to taste and likings. Says Suresh Hinduja, food curator and founder, gourmetindia.com - India's social network on food and things, "Food curation is a new concept in India but it's definitely making a mark now. Here one has to understand people's demographics, their tastes and their choices." Hinduja says he has been approached by IT companies to take care of the complete package from food, to wine, from presentation to appearance of it. "We have always known curation through art but now this idea works in the similar manner for food like putting together well picked culinary elements for a particular criteria," he says. Speaking of his assignments with weddings, where he has had to present a curated buffet, he says: "I have to select vendors, cuisines, its presentation, also if a mix and match is required in terms of putting together a high end Japanese meal and a traditional Indian delicacy. It has to be well placed and here the idea of curation comes in the area of food."

Music curators are also in a position of authority in the world of music these days by aiding collaborations between different people and merging elements together to create a music project or performance. Says Vivek Banipal, music curator and Director, Soul Curators, "It's about curating art in form of music and performing arts. And since the world is our stage literally, this means looking at the idea of curation from today's point of view. Curation is a huge business for brands now as it adds exclusivity."

Places like Khoj, JNU, and FTII have been encouraging courses related to curation which shows that curation is becoming a sought after profession.

Says Indranil Bhattacharya, film curator and professor, Film Aesthetics, FTII, " Curation is the natural evolution of critique. Curation as a field is worth a promotion. Its just that curators these days should only becoming influential in defining a trend or an idea if they go for good value and genuine appreciation else this positive development will have a negative impact on the creative space."

Fashion is also hand in hand with the idea of curation. Says Pernia Qureshi, curator and director, Pop Up Shop, an online fashion store, "Curation is the most important thing in the retail industry now. No one has the time to look around these days. They want it all done. I have noticed that when curators at a store change, the customers also change." She feels that people come to buy from a particular place because it caters to your sensibilities. She adds, "The art of curation brings in this sensibility. It about getting the right eye for the perfect look. They want the whole look done and not just the dress or an accessory."

The developments in the area of curation indicates the coming back of the mainstream media's idea of filtering. Says online expert Prasanto K Roy, "Curation has brought back the process of filtration to restore credibility and reliance."

So now there are less chances of getting deluged by information available around. Adds Roy, "Names which are getting known and accepted are beginning to serve as curators. So that ways the credibility is higher and changes of accurate and correct opinion and idea is higher."

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