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Curating popular music: authority and history, aesthetics and technology

Atton, Chris


Chris Atton


The practice of curation in popular music may be seen as a form of historical enquiry that works in a similar way to the critical projects of the ‘new museology’. Self-curation can be employed by musicians to re-present their work as a historiographical project of popular music and as an intervention in dominant critical accounts of the musicians’ creative practices. The challenge to conventional historiography can be understood as a project of archaeology in the Foucauldian sense, where discourses surrounding objects and their histories may be contested and reinvigorated through a process of recollecting/re-collecting that resembles Walter Benjamin’s challenge to historicism. Using the work of Robert Fripp and King Crimson as an example of musician-curated recordings, the paper argues that legal and economic control may become a basis for aesthetic control, through which histories of creativity may be rewritten. The act of recollection/re-collection becomes a route through which musicians are able to engage with critical contexts and genre formations, and to contribute actively to the material culture of their own history.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Aug 28, 2014
Publication Date 2014-10
Deposit Date Sep 2, 2014
Print ISSN 0261-1430
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 3
Pages 413-427
Keywords Popular music, new museology, curation, historiography
Public URL