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Tuesday 07.31.18

« Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky | Main | August must see picks »

End of July News

Is it the End of July or the end of civilization? Just kidding but I have to ask it:

Klaus Biesenbach will be the new Director of MoCA. Well he does like celebrities, which is something you need to embrace if you are going to get MoCA back on track. But can they replace all the curatorial expertise the institution has squandered in the last decade like Alma Ruiz, Helen, Molesworth and Paul Schimmel. Can Biesenbach rebuild that? For an unecessary sports metaphor think of this as "a rebuilding season" because MoCA has lost so much talent. Also, as LACMA reaches the home stretch on its new building campaign will MOCA right itself and expand enough to put its permanent collection to better use? If so I challenge Biesenbach to do so that reinvigorates the tradition of intense and opinionated curatorial expertise at this crucial institution. Otherwise, I fear MoCA my not make it. From what I know Biesenbach might have the skillset, especially if his development staff is stronger. Maybe this director is the chosen one? maybe not? But at least he has plenty of examples of what not to do like squander expertise, tone deaf market lead conservatism etc. Can the reintroduction of curatorial rigor that is in close association with artists be the answer? That's what I believe... it is like the farm to table movement in food, be close to the artists (farmers)! Today's curators at major museums have mostly lost that. *Update: Christopher Knight makes a to do list for Biesenbach and he's right about the tedious Eurocentrism... why go back there when the pacific rim, which includes the West Coast of the USA is still growing into its potential far more than the already mature European continent, which is already well represented. Let's look to the future and we wish Biesenbach luck if he can please with intellectual rigor (LA has a very academically trained cognescenti who are annoyed with MoCA right now) and hollywood sparkle turned into $$$ and institutional momentum he will have what it takes. In an ironic turn it may be Michael Govan and LACMA's new expansion that can give Biesenbach another major wave to catch. That said he's got to know what seeing to catch it... experience in NYC or Europe doesnt really prepare one for the West Coast.

Laura Hoptman is also leaving MoMA but unlike Biesenbach is staying in NYC. Like a lot of curators they all seem to want to be directors. In general this is problematic as directorships are very different and it means that the best or at least most ambitious curators all see the job as a steping stone to a directorship, which is more about numbers and the daily operations of a museum. Thus, the expertise pool is depleted upon the altar of management and fund raising.

Sacha Baron Cohen flays an art advisor as part of his upcoming movie. He also created a self-hating white male Reed professor so I'm gonna have to see this... It is odd how academia has adopted this prophylactic and anti-intellectual nomenclature. A large proportion of my best friends in Portland are Reedies and most of them have satirized this trend as well so SBC is mining a well defined vein of comedy gold.

Somewhat uninformed but well intentioned AIDS protests at a show by an AIDS activist artist who died of AIDS (somehow they needed it to be more explicit? Instead stage a contemporary show... which is something I would have done were I at the Whitney). See the anti-intellectual prophylactic outrage stuff skewered by SBC above. True though, museums tend to not pick at the scabs these days. It is a loss of nerve in programming so the protest isnt in vain it just was a hair off its true target, or maybe they just took the bait. I'm convinced the Whitney has done this out of institutional passive aggressiveness.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 31, 2018 at 13:49 | Comments (0)


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