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Museum Life: How Bazaar

March 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo in NY Times of Tatiana Santo Domingo, Eugenie Niarchos & Margherita Missoni.

Spring 2011 "museumworthy" Louis Vuitton

Today I thought I was taking a break from thinking about the museum profession when browsing through the new Harper’s Bazaar Spring Fashion Issue. Instead I found museum references scattered throughout the pages including exhibition info (see below), Darryl Patterson photos of shoes deemed “museumworthy” and finally, a Missoni family photo shoot at The Museum of Everything in London.

The concept “museumworthy” has fueled scholarly and popular debate but what attributes made fashion editor Ana Maria Pimentel use that term?  Perhaps more expensive than an average shoe, attached to a famous designer name, having eclectic design elements or meant to attract attention? Does the word museum increase perceived value to the Bazaar reader? Will it make someone buy the shoe?

What else is called museumworthy? My quick Google for the night informed me that the Best of Chicago has a “museum worthy cupcake” category, artists use “museum worthy garbage”  to illustrate our consumption and CNN used the term to refer to the Guggenheim YouTube video search last year.

The Museum of Everything and a recent NY Times article about the Missoni shoot reveal more of the subjectivity involved in placing anything or anyone in a museum.  The Museum was set up by founder James Brett as “Britain’s first and only museum for the untrained, unknown and unintentional creators of our modern world”. It was a series of temporary exhibitions focused on “Outsider Art” from around the world.  The latest was the collection of Sir Peter Blake which the Missoni family saw and were drawn to as they had similar collections in their homes.  While Brett had refused other fashion shoots because he didn’t want the artifacts seen just as props, he allowed the Missionis in.  So here we have “unintentional” art as a backdrop for a very intentional fashion campaign with a family seen as worthy of the place.  This chat between Brett & Blake examines choices made for the exhibition.

When we work within an institution we (ideally) consider standards for accession and deaccession– museumworthiness–that directly support the museum mission and account for numerous factors including research and exhibition potential, artifact condition, financial and staff requirements to care for the piece in perpetuity. What we can’t measure but is often why we first work in museums is that emotional reaction to an artifact that makes us cherish it, a connection as personal as the fashion we choose.

Can’t wait for the summer issue…..

Upcoming exhibitions mentioned in Bazaar:

“Saint Laurent Rive Gauche” at the Pierre-Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation in Paris 3/10-7/23

“Glenn Ligon: America at The Whitney 3/10-6/5

“Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delauney” at Cooper-Hewitt  3/18-6/5

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Museum Life: What Are They Doing in That Gallery?

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Lately the museum stories catching my eye are about galleries being opened to performance art of all types. Last month the Laguna Art Museum in southern California hosted roller derby girls who helped artist Jocelyn Foye create clay pieces by throwing each other into the walls. A DJ, beer and popcorn rounded out the night.

An Orange County roller girl at Laguna Art Museum

Last week the Guggenheim in New York sold out two performances by band Animal Collective in collaboration with artist Danny Perez. As described on the museum website, they set out to create a site-specific performance piece that will transform the museum’s rotunda into a kinetic, psychedelic environment. Transverse Temporal Gyrus will feature original recorded music composed specifically for the event along with video projections, costumes, and props, rendering the band members and performers into intense, visual abstractions. Visitors were invited to interact in the gallery as part of the piece. 

Animal Collective with Perez

 The Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California has a new Friday night L@TE series with performances, music and drinks which this week will include, according to BAM, a live video feed of physically challenging “actions” performed by professional dominatrix, champion submission wrestler, and local artist Jennifer Locke…. wondering if I should ask why actions is in quotations or just go see for myself?!

 Artists making art in museums and using visitors to participate in the creation is in my opinion one of the best uses of public space. While parameters are broadly designed, the experience is not directed by curators, educators or docents. It allows museum professionals to hand over galleries and get out of the way to see what happens when a unique group of people in a specific timeframe interact with whatever is around them… preferably wearing roller skates.

Find Out More! 

Laguna Art Museum http://www.lagunaartmuseum.org/ 

Guggenheim New York http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york 

BAM L@TE Friday Nights http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/about/late