Curator Ben Russell poses with a robot called Cygan, built in 1957, at the Science Museum in London. Courtesy of Jack Taylor/Getty Images.
You just cannot make this stuff up.
The opening of the 2020 Bucharest Biennial may be delayed, but the next edition’s curator has no concerns. That’s because he or she or it is a robot.
That’s right: the chief curator of the 2022 Bucharest Biennial is Jarvis, an artificial intelligence program in development from the Vienna-based studio Spinnwerk.
Named after the superhero Iron Man’s AI butler, Jarvis will “use deep learning in order to learn by itself from databases from universities, galleries, or art centers” and select works that fit the chosen theme, Spinnwerk founder Razvan Ion told the Art Newspaper.
Jarvis’s curatorial choices, therefore, will be limited to artists who are already on the art world’s radar.
Instead of a traditional in-person exhibition, the show will take place in virtual reality, meaning that it will be accessible to anyone in the world who has access to a VR headset. VR booths will also be set up in Bucharest and Vienna.
The rise of the robot curator comes as something of a surprise given that just three years ago, experts were forecasting that jobs in the arts were safe from AI invasion. (The website Replaced by Robot!? still ranks curator as the 34th safest of 702 jobs, with only a .68 chance of automation.)
This year’s edition of the Bucharest Biennial, titled “Farewell to Research,” will also be an online affair, at least for the time being. Organized by Henk Slager, a curator of the human variety, it was set to run May 28 to July 4.
Instead, two online events—a curatorial workshop and a symposium titled “Contemporary Art Biennials—Our Hegemonic Machines in States of Emergency”—will take place from June 23 to 28. The official opening has been postponed until spring 2021.
The 10th Bucharest Biennale will be on view May 19–July 17, 2022.