February 1, 2009 - New Museum - Museums and Civil Society – The Role of Artists, Institutions and Politics Now!
February 1, 2009

Museums and Civil Society – The Role of Artists, Institutions and Politics Now!

Martin Kippenberger
Museum of Modern Art Syros, 1993-97
Sign: Christopher Wool
Courtesy: Estate Martin Kippenberger

Museums and Civil Society
The Role of Artists, Institutions and Politics Now!

February 12, 2-7p.m.

Location: the New Museum,
Sky Lounge, 235 Bowery,
New York, NY 10002

Within the framework of the exhibition ‘The Artist as Troublemaker – the Museum and Civil Society’ at the Austrian Cultural Forum NYC (December 7th, 2008 – March 28th, 2009), the Kunsthaus Graz / LM Joanneum organizes in co-operation with the New Museum and the Austrian Cultural Forum a symposium on scenarios of recent and future museum practice and theory. Curators, artists and scholars will discuss urgent and fundamental issues, regarding the functioning of museums in a world of crisis.

Undoubtedly, we are facing fundamental changes in the art- and museum world. After a period of unprecedented growth, the new realities, triggered by immense economic transformations, appear on the horizon. Art has evolved over the years from modernism’s avant-garde to a highly popular phenomenon in a visual culture that easily absorbs critical and dissident views within its institutional structure. A wide range of institutions underwent changes and redefinitions that matched many of the developments in the media- and art markets. Within the framework and under the term “museum” we are continuously witnessing striking developments that oscillate between the commercialisation and the creation of new, so far unknown public spaces, as well as the emergence of a whole range of often contradictory formats, from “sheer entertainment” to “academic education”.

All of this is built upon rather marginally reflected notions of the various museums’ statuses, between the American donor-based “private” model and the European public situation, driven by “cultural politics”. What options are available for museums in a situation of drastically changing parameters of institutional realities? How do we want our institutional practice to look in the next years to come? How will the museum as a part of civil society act in the near and further future? What consequences it might have for the artistic practice?

The symposium concentrates on the most urgent issues, generated by this situation. It investigates the role of “cultural politics” in the functioning of museums and it collects reflections on various positions in the US and Europe as well as globally under the auspices of drastic financial and economic changes. It considers critical artistic approaches and their presence in the museum perceived as a location of contradictions. Is the museum still able to go beyond borders of disciplines and to create connecting platforms for various fields of knowledge? How can a museum nowadays be perceived as an educational vehicle versus the general public, the schools, universities and a professional field? What is the future of the museum within educational politics? Last but not least, the symposium investigates the museum’s role as a dispositif to create new forms and qualities of public space. Are there any innovative models able to generate new definitions and developments of new forms and dynamics of the open public space?

Panel I: the artist and his/her critical position towards museum practice

Ann Temkin (curator, MOMA, NYC), Laura Hoptman (curator, the New Museum, NYC), Elisabeth Fiedler (curator, LM Joanneum, Graz), Martin Prinzhorn (professor, art critic, Vienna), Michael Clegg (artist, Berlin).

Moderated by Peter Pakesch (artistic director, Kunsthaus Graz/LM Joanneum)

Panel II: the museum education and the development of the public

Maria Lind (director, CCS, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY), Eungie Joo (director of education and public programmes, the New Museum, NYC), Marco de Michelis (professor, Columbia University, NYC), Dieter Bogner (the New Museum’s board member, museum consultant, Vienna)

Moderated by Katrin Bucher-Trantow (curator Kunsthaus Graz/LM Joanneum

Panel III: the museum’s future perspectives

Lisa Phillips (director, the New Museum, NYC), Peter Pakesch (artistic director, Kunsthaus Graz/LM Joanneum), Donald Preziosi (professor, UCLA), Claire Farago (professor, University of Colorado Boulder), Diana Thater (artist, LA)

Moderated by Adam Budak (curator, Kunsthaus Graz/LM Joanneum)


Kunsthaus Graz / LM Joanneum
The New Museum, NYC
Austrian Cultural Forum NYC

With the support of the departement for culture at the regional governement of Styria

New Museum
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