In the olden days, if you wanted to be cool and impress your friends, you started playing records in public and called yourself a DJ. Now you create a website, or even hire a physical space, and call yourself a 'curator'. Others simply rebrand themselves and insist they've been curators all along. Indeed, social media means we can all be curators now. Anything and everything is Pinteresting.
The Curate award, a joint initiative from the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and the Prada Foundation, at once seeks to encourage this urge, if encouragement were needed, and reward those with a genuinely fresh and forward-looking take on curatorial practice.
The competition, launched today, is open to everyone and the winner will get to curate their own show next year in either Qatar or Italy. The extremely heavyweight judging panel includes chair of the QMA, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani; Miuccia Prada; Rem Koolhaas; Lebanese film-maker and actress Nadine Labaki; Nawal El Moutawakel, the first woman from a Muslim majority country to win an Olympic gold medal; and super curator and co-director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Aspiring curators can upload a video outlining their proposal on to the Curate website as of today. The jury - who say they will 'judge ideas on their creativity and social significance ' - will winnow the entries down to the wheatiest 20 which will then be showcased on the site. The public can then enter the selection process, picking their favourite entry. A winner will be announced next Spring.
In a collective statement the judging panel said: 'The notion of "curating" no longer belongs just to the museum. With the development of digital and social media, it has now become possible for anyone to participate in the selection, editing and communication of ideas. We hope that people, whatever their age or background, will make the most of the opportunity offered by Curate to think about the future potential of exhibition making, where there are no imposed boundaries to media, scale, content and formats, and ideas, whether from the fields of science or the arts, can come from anywhere.'
The Curate award also aims to trigger a dialogue about the ingredients of a truly inspiring exhibition. The question has already been put to leading figures in the art world, such as Takashi Murakami. 'For me, an inspiring exhibition is one like Paul Schimmel's Helter Skelter,' says the Japanese artist. 'It introduces new artists while also challenging the audience's view of not only art but society in general, and possesses the revolutionary energy to change the structure of the art world itself.' Meanwhile, Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi picked out a rather unusual contender for the best show he has ever witnessed. 'My choice as the most inspiring ever was a sculpture exhibition for the blind,' he says. 'It was held at the Tate in the mid seventies under the supervision of Henry Moore.'
Check back here soon to hear more from the judges about the art of curation and to see some of the fruits of the global search. Plus tell us about the best exhibition you have ever witnessed on Twitter, using the hashtag #OperationCurate.