Reflections on Public Programming 3.22.2014

I looked back to the Zotero for the course to find articles about the discourse surrounding public programming, but could not find any resources to help me contextualize my own reflections, so I delved deeper into Terry Smith’s “Thinking Contemporary Curating”. In the last chapter, “The Infrastructural”, I found some important points that he brings up that I think are worth mentioning here.

He writes, “ The institution is now not just the museum but a whole industry that has grown up around exhibition making’..So has its need to activate infrastructure”. I think what Smith is saying here is that it is important to find ways to utilize other physical spaces, buildings, structures (i.e. infrastructure) to further activate the exhibition. Obviously, this is something that has become an integral part of curating today which is why from the start of the exhibition making public programming was structured then further developed for our class.

However, I take caution when he says that exhibition making has become an entire industry. The implication it has become an industry implies the manufacturing of goods and production. Because of this it is important to create programming around an exhibit that also transcends the infrastructure of an art space or learning institute. Smith write about, Paula Marincola’s provocation: “Can we ever get beyond the essential conservatism of displaying works of art in conventional, dedicated spaces?’ resonates through the exhibitionary complex, shaking the presumption of each kind of venue that it is a special domain for art. When we move inside these structures to the kinds of exhibitions that curators regularly stage, a widespread contemporary impulse is voiced by Obrist’s regular refrain: ‘We must experiment with ways beyond objects’ (250).

How one may be able to do this is through diverse public programming. I was able to attend some of the earlier public programming events. The first event I attended was the panel discussion we held before the exhibit opening, “Celebrating Contemporary Guatemalan Art: Conversations with Artists & Curators”.

I was happy that at this event we were able to have speakers like Jessica Kaire who was exhibiting a piece in our exhibition and artist Terike Haapoja in direct discussion with curators. The discussion between artist and curator is important because of the ever changing relationship between the two and art and art production today. I was a little confused by Jamie Permuth’s position on the panel, or rather the interaction on the panel with him. He is a Guatemalan artist making contemporary art, many times with Guatemala as it’s subject matter. However, at one point during the discussion it seemed to me as though he indicated that perhaps he would not call what happened in Guatemala a genocide, or at least that he likes to distance his work from this association. My interpretation could most certainly be wrong, but I think that this would have been a great opportunity for someone on the panel to further explore and or clarify this positioning with him and the public since our exhibit takes resurfacing invisible injustices as one of it’s main curatorial threads.

I was unable to attend the performance pieces and wish that I was able to, but with a 6 day work week it was just not possible. These programs are important to our overall public programming strategy because they respond to Marincola’s provocation that I mentioned before, “Can we ever get beyond the essential conservatism of displaying works of art in conventional, dedicated spaces?”. I think that with programs like the Walk Exchange and Regina Galindo’s performance in New York we can in some small ways do this. In these instances the public programming was actually public- outside The New School and the exhibition space, which in and of itself makes a different sort of impact.

I am really looking forward to the public programming on Saturday surrounding New Masculinities because I feel that this event is poised to create continuing, ongoing, important, and divergent conversations about our exhibit. I cannot speak for the other events that I was not able to attend, but I think this event will create more critical thinking and reflection on the actual exhibit that is needed.

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