Museums and more museums, Soviet space art, Johnny Farnham & Christo + more!

Art Life , Stuff Sep 06, 2019 No Comments

Friday Degustation: served together or seperate

Inclusive and polyphonic spaces: what is a museum?

What happens when you Google ‘Museum’ + ‘stock shot’

On occasion the media lets the directors of art museums some space to think out loud what museums mean in the contemporary context. Are they the dusty galleries for the venerated works of long dead artists? Or are they super exciting activated spaces that are both social media friendly zones for young folks and curatorial serious endeavours? Maybe the reality is the in the middle… The Australian gave over some space for the Museum of Contemporary Art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor to reflect on her recent visit to the recent International Council of Museums conference in Kyoto, where the definition of a museum is “…a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.” While the last 30 years have seen a significant shift in how museums are funded by government, their role questioned by cultural conservatives, and sometimes vexed questions of philanthropy, the market and arms-length museum board involvement in curatorial decisions, Macgregor argues that a new definition of a museum is needed [>] “All museums face the challenge of staying relevant and perhaps it is this that has led to the recent concerns about the new ICOM definition. Relevant to whom? Museums must attract new audiences, especially younger audi­ences, with different expectations. At the same time they have a responsibility to their core audience, and the blending of the two is often a delicate balancing act. ICOM received more than 260 responses to its call for a new definition and the proposal presumably reflects the overwhelming concerns of those who took the trouble to respond.Some have seen the new definition — “Museums,” it begins, “are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures” — as pandering to a new age of activism that will alienate as many as it embraces. But this raises the question of how a museum should reflect the current era. This is easier to answer for art museums, where the work will inevitably present ideas that deal with contemporary issues such as global warming and climate change, gender diversity and immigration…”

It’ll be here, eventually: Sydney Modern


Hey, remember how everyone got super angry about the Art Gallery of NSW expanding its empire northwards over some green space for their fancy new exhibitions spaces dubbed Sydney Modern? And remember how Paul Keating slammed the place saying it’d just be a convention centre? And how that Facebook person said the windows would be too big and ruin the works? No? Ok, well Sydney Modern is still happening, but just not as quickly as some had hoped. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports [>] “NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised to deliver the much-vaunted $344 million expansion to the Art Gallery of NSW “under budget” after her government was forced to go back to the market to find a builder. But the Sydney Modern project, which will double the gallery’s exhibition space, will be completed months behind schedule, with the opening pushed back to 2022 rather than late-2021 as initially planned. Ms Berejiklian announced on Sunday that Richard Crookes Constructions had won the contract to build the project, with construction to begin in the coming months. She said the government had made the right call in re-opening the tender process because it  had secured a better deal due to improved market conditions. “We took a difficult decision to go back to the market,” Ms Berejiklian said. “But know we know it was the right decision. We got a price under budget.”

How many museums can we sustain?

Vernon Ah Kee, Let’s Be Polite About Aboriginal Art, 2012 

In The Art Newspaper, intrepid arts reporter Elizabeth Fortescue looks at plans for two major new Indigenous art museums, one in South Australia, and the other in the Northern Territory, that are attracting high level support but also ‘controversy’ [>] “The Northern Territory government proposes a National Aboriginal Art Gallery for Alice Springs, a town with a population of 25,000 in the geographic heart of Australia. Under Michael Gunner, the chief minister, the territory committed A$50m ($34m) to the project in 2016, with the hope of attracting further funding from the federal government and private sources. The South Australian government under Steven Marshall, the state premier, allocated A$150m ($102m) in June to developing an Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery in Adelaide “with the final design and cost to be determined after receipt of the business case”. In March, the federal government pledged A$85m towards the Adelaide museum as part of a ten-year deal to boost the local economy. Announcing the idea as a campaign pledge before the 2018 South Australian election, Marshall said: “The absence of a national gallery for Aboriginal Australia’s cultural and artistic heritage is a significant omission by Australian governments and a fantastic opportunity for South Australia.” But the arts administrator Michael Lynch, the former chief executive of the Sydney Opera House and the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, has raised concerns that two museums would compete for collections, audiences and funding. He tells The Art Newspaper that his relationship with the Alice Springs and Adelaide projects had been “vexed”, citing political interference, a lack of Indigenous consultation and a wasted architectural competition…”

Ai Wei Wei says Western Art Museums in China are ‘a joke’

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, artist activity Ai Wei Wei has slammed Western art museums that are seeking to expand into China as a ‘joke’ as the galleries carefully avoid getting involved in the protests in Hong Kong. Reports Artnet [>] “Speaking as pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong defied a ban on anti-government protests, and after police fired tear gas and used water canons on demonstrators this past weekend, Ai mocked Western institutions for their silence on the crackdown, and self-censorship. “Western museums expanding in China is a joke,” the Chinese-born, Berlin-based artist told artnet News. “China is an authoritarian state under heavy censorship. By choosing to expand into China, you have chosen to obey these dictates; you are willing to be censored.” Several major institutions have formed partnerships as well as organized major loan exhibitions on the mainland and in Hong Kong in the past decade. These include London’s Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, and British Museum as well as the Center Pompidou in Paris. “Partnering with Chinese museums while being involved with issues at the forefront of contemporary culture is laughable,” Ai said, referring to human rights, freedom of speech, and democratic values…”

Commrades! To the stars!

The Soviet Union may have lost the race to land a man on the Moon, but they certainly won the propaganda poster war, as US publications such as Open Culture are only now admitting. [>] “There were some things the Soviets just did better—and when it came to making space travel look like the most monumentally heroic and exciting thing ever, they excelled, as you can see in this early collection of Soviet space posters from 1958-1963…”

Time Hole: That time Johnny Farnham & Yoram Gross made a music video at Christo’s ‘Wrapped Coast’…

With an introduction by Brian Henderson…

[>] “Commercial short film for John Farnham’s “One” by Yoram Gross, with introduction by Brian Henderson from the Bandstand television show. 1970.”

Follow: E S P E R 9 9 5

Unfortunately it’s impossible to grab GIFs from Twitter, otherwise our page would be graced with [>] ESPER 995’s gorgeous neo-cyberpunk 8 bit graphics, many their own, others lovingly curated from across the web. Nothing says tomorrow like a retro-future…

Assorted links

Dad! [>] Alex has dug another hole!

“As new technology is increasingly adopted by artists, can curators and collectors keep up?” [>] Getting digi with it: how the art world is grappling with new media

RSVP [>] Runway Journal: Issue 39: Oceans Launch Party

The artist who chronicled the [>] Bronx Graffiti Boom in the 1980s

[>] Dezeen Awards 2019 architecture shortlist reveals world’s best buildings

‘We Are a Blight on Nature’ [>] Machine Master Conrad Shawcross on Artificial Intelligence, Acid House, and Turning a Car Into a Kinetic Sculpture

Brilliant Visions [>] Peyote among the Aesthetes

What’s your favourite month of the year? [>] English painter Peter Brook made a lithograph for each one.

Sculpting Time [>] Will Self’s introduction to Tarkovsky’s Solaris.

Art Spiegelman [>] golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism

[>] Picturing Vermillion Sands

The Art Life

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