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A manifesto for museums | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"I’m about halfway through an internship at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and find myself thinking a lot about the role of museums, their futures, and the economics of art institutions. Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author and founder of the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, gave the keynote address at the International Council of Museums this year where he outlined his manifesto of sorts on how museums should function.

The entire thing is worth a read, but I was especially interested in his thoughts on scale:
It is imperative that museums become smaller, more orientated towards the individual and more economical. This is the only way that they can ever tell stories on a human scale. The great museums invite us to forget our humanity and to accept the state and its human masses. This is why there are millions, outside the West, who are frightened by museums. This is why museums are associated with governments.

I’m reminded of David Joselit’s essay In Praise of Small (here’s a PDF of the essay [http://commonpracticeny.org/assets/CPNY_NearContact_2016.pdf ]) that also argues for and encourages small organizations and institutions, subverting the common phrase, that bigger is better:
Here then are the offcial assumptions with regard to the question of scale and the public good: BIG (capitalization of finance or audience) = PUBLIC. SMALL (capitalization of finance or audience) = ELITIST. But in fact this equation inverts the actual situation. It is the “public” (too big to fail) that disproportionately benefits elites, whereas it is the “elitist” (too small to survive) that serves communities in ways that other, larger organizations cannot. Might this ideological inversion be just as insidious and frightening as it sounds? Is it possible that artists in New York City are not only supposed to decorate the salons of hedge fund managers—and thus be implicated in financial elitism—while also taking the rap for intellectual elitism through their lively participation in specialized art discourse?

The term critique is tossed around as though it were a grenade with its needle pulled. But where does “critique” inhere? In my view, it is generally ineffectual in individual works of art, whose transgression can be easily neutralized in the halls of BIG. No, our political challenge is to maintain alternate forms of public space for exhibition and debate. To do so, we must exit the ethos of “Too big to fail.”

I’ve been thinking about Joselit’s essay a lot, recently rereading it as part of the Triple Canopy Publication Intensive I took part in earlier this summer. While I learned a lot during my two weeks at Triple Canopy, one thing I keep coming back to is are the benifits of staying small. Of how when an institution grows and gains power and size, there are all sorts of political, economic, and public considerations than must be accounted for. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that—I’m seeing the Whitney navigate that each day with a stunning grace—but like Joselit proposes, bigger isn’t always better, and at each scale there are a new set of tradeoffs."
museums  small  jarrettfuller  2016  orhanpamuk  organizations  institutions  sfsh  publicspace  davidjoselit  elitism  triplecanopy  scale  scalability  power  size  whitneymuseum  nyc  manifestos  huamn  humans  toobigtofail 
july 2016 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 10.22.2011: The Subjectivity of Perception
"Our brain’s ability to patch together a coherent visual field and construct a seamless looking image that we know is imaginary (there are noses and trees and thumbs blocking parts of our eyesight) is similar to the propensity to construct a narrative—to imagine a chain of cause and effect out of almost random events. What we see and what we experience of the world is largely a lie, made up by us to satisfy some deeply evolved needs and tendencies. We might know it’s a lie but, still, we are helplessly drawn into these perceptual tricks."
davidbyrne  evesussman  christianmarclay  ryanoakes  trevoroakes  ryanandtrevoroakes  oakestwins  2011  perception  illusion  huans  huamn  vision  fieldofvision  brain  subjectivity  art  sculpture  lawrenceweschler 
november 2011 by robertogreco

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