Or not (Museums and the value of art)
6 October 2010 Leave a comment
Art historian Daniel Seidell speaking at IAM’s Encounter 10:
The Whitney would like you to believe that as an artist you have made it if you are included in the Biennial. I know and have worked with many artists who have participated in this exhibition and it is certainly not the case. But such an exhibition can be a useful means for an artist to develop his or her life project. Or not. But that “or not” is not what The Whitney wants you to consider.
I like his language in this quote, particularly “life project” and “or not.” One thing I would have, in retrospect, liked more of in my college education was perspective. There wasn’t any sense, as I recall, of our starting out on a journey that would indeed last a lifetime. We focused on the present, not thinking about how the sculptures we created in our classrooms marked the inception of a life-long portfolio.
A portfolio that may fall into the “or not” category. It may not be part of renowned shows in prestigious galleries. It may not be featured in contemporary or cutting edge publications. However, it can still be an important part of a cultural landscape.
Seidell goes on to talk about his own experience curating at the Sheldon Art Museum, and how some of the things in the Museum’s storage vault were acquired with great fanfare and are now monetarily worthless, while one small painting that was purchased amidst great protest at the museum is now the most valuable.
His lecture explored how museums and galleries serve as catalysts for cultural transformation.