Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Margaret Thatcher at the derelict site of Head Wrightson, 1987. Photo: Peter Reimann. Courtesy of The Gazette.

June 13, 2017

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, part of Teesside University, is moving forward with a vision of itself as a “useful museum,” or “museum 3.0,” under the directorship of Alistair Hudson and with programming by Miguel Amado and Elinor Morgan. It is an institution with a social function that repurposes art as a tool, pursuing a civic agenda and contributing to change. It focuses on public engagement, establishing the gallery as a site based on use value and fostering community building, with the actions of its users and constituent groups defining its meaning.

Dispossession, Kader Attia
In this work Kader Attia investigates the Vatican’s holdings of art from Africa, much of which was plundered by Christian missionaries in the context of their evangelization efforts on the continent. The artist examines the relationship between European dominance and the dispossession of African cultures, invoking the notion of “repair” to shed light on the debt, both moral and material, that European powers (ranging from nation-states to the Catholic Church) have toward African populations. This work was acquired through a grant awarded by the Contemporary Art Society’s inaugural Collections Fund at Frieze.

National Union of Gallery Visitors and Museum Workers, Freee
This pamphlet compiles new definitions for political terms such as “agency,” “strike,” “conflict,” and “march.” It is part of a series of manifestos written by Freee that bring activism together with the traditions of the avant-garde.

Print Room, Kellenberger-White
Kellenberger-White is redesigning the institution’s brand throughout 2017. The project includes exhibitions featuring archival materials, samples of their own productions, and printed matter drawn from workshops and consultation sessions. This exhibition consists of a workstation—a printing machine and a digital interface—that visitors can use to create posters expressing their views on Middlesbrough, art, society, and what a museum should be. The posters are displayed in the gallery on a rotating basis.

The Place Is Here
The Place Is Here, jointly presented with the South London Gallery, explores a pivotal decade for British culture and politics—the 1980s—and its key debates involving black artists, thinkers, and institutions. The works featured at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art represent dialogues regarding colonial legacies, questions of national identity, and the anti-immigration policies initiated by Margaret Thatcher. Deploying a range of aesthetic strategies, from collage to documentary, the exhibition demonstrates how those practitioners were reassembling history under new terms.

The Place Is Here is curated by Nick Aikens, curator at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The exhibition, in other forms, was previously shown at the Van Abbemuseum and at Nottingham Contemporary. The artists included in the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art’s version are Said Adrus, John Akomfrah/Black Audio Film Collective, Rasheed Araeen, David A. Bailey, Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce, Chila Kumari Burman, Ceddo Film and Video Workshop, Eddie Chambers, Sunil Gupta, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Gavin Jantjes, Mowbray Odonkor, Maybelle Peters, and Maud Sulter.

Wilderness Way
Wilderness Way treats Margaret Thatcher’s visit to Teesside in 1987 as a jumping-off point to reflect on a period that shaped the global present. The exhibition is structured around key episodes of Thatcher’s career between 1977 and 1987, including strikes, riots, and wars. It features critical representations of Thatcher, and topics both past and present associated with her policies. Art, documentation, photographic records, film, news footage, music, scratch video, printed matter, and memorabilia illustrate such themes as class struggle, agency, racial division, and protest. The participating artists are Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, John Akomfrah/Black Audio Film Collective, Conrad Atkinson, Chila Kumari Burman, Jeremy Deller, Duvet Brothers, Aikaterini Gegisian, Dawn Mellor, Keith Piper, and Vron Ware; the items and archival materials are drawn from BBC Look North, Teesside Archives, The Gazette, and local personal holdings.


Community Day
The free weekly Community Day consists of activities and events complemented by a communal lunch. It brings together people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, classes, and nationalities to share food, make, learn, and discuss current urgencies.

Middlesbrough Collection
The Middlesbrough Collection’s first permanent presentation features a range of works in multiple media—including drawing, ceramics, video, and jewelry—by British and international artists from the 19th century to today. The exhibition’s content and displays are shaped through a continuous dialogue between staff and publics.

Office of Useful Art
The Office of Useful Art is a free workplace for meetings, workshops, and displays that promote Arte Útil—“useful art,” or art as a tool—as well as the repository of the Arte Útil archive, a growing registry of historical and contemporary case studies.

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Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
June 13, 2017

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