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Saturday 05.25.19

« Time>Space>Place | Main | City survey left out the Arts, add them back! »

Late May Institutional Links

It's safe to say we are in a time of institutional upending, where things are being simultaneously being reconfigured, hollowed out or outright destroyed. Most of it seems knee jerk, follow the parade, performing public wokeness, a war on expertise and overall lacks strategic planning or vision (that's bad as institutions require it). After say 50 year of expansion, the art world for living artists seems to be contracting (except for blue chip commodity art and there dead = bread). Here are some links:

She's 98 and getting her first solo museum exhibition. Good news but why does this take so long? Oh yeah, she's a woman... and her concerns are less easy to commodify. Still its nice to have some good news and a sense of oversights being righted.

Looks like Josephine Zarcovich isnt planning on coming back as Linfield's curator. This is part of the overall war on expertise that all elements of the economy have been facing... from taxi drivers to tenured professors and yes institutional curators. It is coming from both the right and the left and a president with no interest in the standards of public service is the top example. Couple things though... I dont think Linfield ever technically had a full time professional curator like Linda Tesner. When I first started going there professors like Liz Obert programmed it, Cris Moss put the place on the map and he did teach as well. Hopefully Linfield can survive the current collapse of higher education and keep up a program worth tracking... the Linfield Gallery under Moss was THE reason to trek out to wine country and they can still do that... even if it is part time if they play their cards right. Another thing The Ford Foundation isnt always helping as much of their support prioritizes academic connections + traditional art forms (painting/sculpture) not the hybridized new mediums involving microchips and independent practices that so artists today rely on. Since they are the only major art award it has a bit of Luddite effect... look microchips, photons, photography and installation are hardly new so why the taboo on other forms? Also, some involved in the history project have engaged in activity compromising to legitimate art criticism. Because of this I have contributed nothing to the project, yet have tracked the Portland art scene more closely and written more than anyone over the past 20 years. FWIW PORT is the largest, most influential archive of Portland's art history available and has effected the shape of the arts ecology in the region as well as top level art history (Rothko, Judd etc).

OPB says goodbye to OCAC... Ill keep my more penetrating thoughts on OCAC's school closing for my Portlandageddon piece (still coming as bad news continues to roll in but Soon). I will say that this was avoidable and reject the blameless narrative the hospice board has put forward (and much media has accepted). Let's just say there is a fatalism in a lot of contemporary art that I believe infected their strategies and the board owns this outcome. I think they mistakenly thought they were up to the task when its clear they were out of their depth and spooked (a merger was never going to work with another art school). Garth Clark discussed this danger of contemporary art's fatal attraction in regards to craft right here on PORT years ago.

Kenny Shachter breaks down what the auction stuff means... money fleeing to safe havens.

Jerry Saltz felt the Whitney Biennial showed him something new... despite much of the work being so similar. I see it as iterative, a kind of MacGyver aesthetic still overly earnest about its humility, footnoted in research. Some research art is great because it truly upends understanding like this show at PICA years ago but what this WB says to me is that liberal elite art isnt showing the kind of fight it needs or the tension with the far right. There is a fatalism to art that looks like something from a hoarder's home put in a museum, its defensive and retreating. Yet there is a fight going on and I want art with teeth, or at least toughness. It takes guts to curate in this climate and I'm not certain the institutions can be relied upon to truly do the age justice... maybe that rare curator with some rare institutional support can risk relevancy though? (here is what the WB curators had to say) Then there is the Kanders scandal, lets just say I am annoyed when board members are more debate sparking than the art. People are legitimately angry and yet both sides of the aisle lack the ability to engage that anger (except in street confrontations and that isn't a good situation).

Speaking of guts Marne Lucas wrote a hilariously good essay. She recently took part in the Every Woman Biennial that provides an edgier take at the same time as the WB. Go Marne!

...and last but not least MOCA is going to free admissions, as museums should be.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 25, 2019 at 13:03 | Comments (0)


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