The Tipping Point, a store in Houston that calls itself a sneaker lifestyle shop, does not just sell a collection of differently colored rubber soles, along with books, music and apparel. No, its Web site declares, the store “curates” its merchandise
Promoters at Piano’s, a nightclub on the Lower East Side, announced on their Web site that they will “curate a night of Curious burlesque.”
Eric Demby, a founder of the Brooklyn Flea swap meet, does not hire vendors to serve grilled cheese sandwiches, pickles and tamales to hungry shoppers. He “personally curates the food stands,” according to New York magazine.
And to think, not so long ago, curators worked at museums.
The word “curate,” lofty and once rarely spoken outside exhibition corridors or British parishes, has become a fashionable code word among the aesthetically minded, who seem to paste it onto any activity that involves culling and selecting. In more print-centric times, the term of art was “edit” — as in a boutique edits its dress collections carefully. But now, among designers, disc jockeys, club promoters, bloggers and thrift-store owners, curate is code for “I have a discerning eye and great taste.”
Or more to the point, “I belong.”
For many who adopt the term, or bestow it on others, “it’s an innocent form of self-inflation,” said John H. McWhorter, a linguist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “You’re implying that there is some similarity between what you do and what someone with an advanced degree who works at a museum does.” (» more)