The Trouble With the Word ‘Curated’ | Sojourners

The Trouble With the Word ‘Curated’

Facing myself in truth, without attempting to display a self devoid of flaws, rough edges, and woundedness.
Etta James in 2006 / Photo by John K. Addis

CONFESSION: I HAVE a bone to pick with the word “curated” this month. I’m finding that the word, while generally useful in art contexts, let me down during Lent this year.

Let me explain.

“Curation” evolved from the word “curare” (to take care of) but, as it exists now, covers anything from making playlists to putting on a painting exhibition. I don’t have an issue with the chameleonic nature of the term, though I know it’s beginning to vex actual museum curators. What is difficult for me to wrap my mind around is the fussiness that curation implies.

It’s synonymous with caring for objects and, subsequently, caring for an audience by displaying the objects in an interesting and informative way. But, as a representation of spiritual wilderness, Lent seems diametrically opposed to the idea of a carefully considered experience. In Lent, nothing is planned. This year, I simply showed up in the metaphorical desert and started walking.

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