Corporations, Hollywood, Homeland Security and Museum Space?

Posted: April 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Art, Museums, performance art | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Movie lights surround Abramovic as MoMA’s atrium is turned into a film set (MoMA is slowly figuring out how to use this vast, cold space which is its center).  Three HD cameras record Abramovic’s performance at all times and a man with a still camera stands behind Abramovic, taking extreme close-ups of each person who sits across from her.  There are signs alerting the public that whoever enters acknowledges consent to being videotaped and photographed, giving up all rights to these images.

There are other signs stating that no photographs can be taken in the atrium, and there are guards set up at either ends to insure that this doesn’t occur.  Luck only for those with a long lens.

There is no photography allowed in any part of the Abramovic show, there was no photography allowed in the recent Tino Seghal show at the Guggenheim or of  any other Seghal piece for that matter, there was no photography and even more egregious, no note taking(!) allowed in the Urs Fischer show at the New Museum.  I’ve spent the last few years fighting with everyone and anyone who has challenged my right to shoot in public spaces.  Granted, a museum is a private form of public space and we’re surrounded by ever more of these hybrid spaces as true public space shrinks.

I understand that museums have the ‘right’ to forbid any activity on their premises.  But by denying viewers’ rights while invoking their own, what kind of controlling (precious) atmosphere do these museums and artists want to promote?  It seems to put us back several decades in terms of the positioning and passivity of the viewer.  These tactics also mimic those of large information-gathering corporations as well as our own government’s Department of Homeland Security.  What is up here?

2 Comments on “Corporations, Hollywood, Homeland Security and Museum Space?”

  1. 1 Ariel Speedwagon said at 5:52 pm on May 22nd, 2010:

    I found your blog looking for people discussing the show up at the MoMA right now and read this + your other thing about it.

    I am working on curating a show right now — an alternative retrospective of Marina’s work, performed one at a time over the course of a (very long!) day. One of the things we are wrestling with is documentation — specifically our desire to NOT allow just anyone with a camera phone to take a picture.

    Our objections come for a couple of reasons. One, if we are going to ask our performers to be naked (and we are), we need to allow them some control over who will take pictures of their bodies and what happens to those pictures. And, second, we are blocking pictures because we think there’s something funny that happens these days — people stop paying attention to the art and start paying attention to taking a picture of the art, viewing things through their tiny screens rather than their eyes. Especially because our reperformance is about giving these works a chance to be performed — rather than presented as art objects, like at MoMA — we want to make our audience be a little more present.

    I’d love to know what you think, especially because it looks like you work in video/film/photography — and because of what you say above. Our goal is absolutely not to make our audience passive; if anything, it is to make the audience more ACTIVE (with a significant helping of protecting our performers.)


  2. 2 Documentation Strategies | MEDA302 said at 1:01 pm on August 7th, 2012:

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