File spoon-archives/avant-garde.archive/avant-garde_1996/avant-garde_Feb.96, message 17

Date: Thu, 8 Feb 96 11:33:57 EST
Subject: Re: dry-hump: was public (fwd)

>My pointis they started as critical institutions, but as survival becomes
important , they begin to compromise. Till they have been transformed into
either a weak copy( form) of those institutions they opposed or they become
the reformed version of them.  Either way  they become tools of
ligitimization.   In part because that is what they had sought to be or
they those who were involved in constructing them ideologically were to
idealistic and or not self critical enough.
Anothe r aspect of this is that during the '60's early '70's Museums
stopped being storage depots and became educational institutions. In
actuality they gave up the role of being  the primary means of validation
to become the prime means of promotion. For the most part no one noticed
the shift.  Most museums including the Met became to some degree engagedin
promoting the new rather than critically re-evaluating the past.

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I think that's an excellent point that could be applied to the Whitney's oft
used method of curating and presenting shows. This was pointed out to me in two 
ways. One was a review of the Hopper exhibit from last year that included as its
centerpiece a film/slide presentation of Hopper's influence on American Cinema.
The review (I can't remember where I read it.) pointed out that the Whitney had 
again not let the work stand up for itself, but that somehow it had to be 
justified by packaging it as something that had a great influence on more 
readily digestible forms of pop culture. It might also have been mentioned that 
this way of presenting works also calls into question the viewer's ability to
beleive in a painting's worth if it is not somehow linked to the mainstream and
Secondly, the NY Times and a friend both pointed out the heavy handed packaging
of the Beat Generation exhibit, which I have not seen. The work, which was often
considered average, was sold to the public the way the Gap sells its pants; 
through crafty appeals to people's desire and nostalgia for certain lifestyles.
This calls to mind Volvo's ads containing a scenario involving a Kerouac book. 
Volvo and Kerouac? Come on. I think in some ways the Whitney falls to these 
levels of merchandising and one wonders if the ways in which they present art in
order to attract and educate the public is any more informative than looking at

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