What do museums of contemporary art stand for today? A pessimistic view might suggest that they are a brand identity rather than a recognizable set of cultural values, a crucial part of the leisure and entertainment industry that also serves as a status-enhancing outlet for private collectors. At the same time, the global museum boom since 1990 has seen an unimaginable diversification of the museum as a place for exhibiting art and telling history. The production of innovative education models, the promotion of international collaborations, the formation of alternative archives, and the facilitation of new productions are now equally important aspects of museum activity. In some cases, a historical collection is no longer deemed necessary, while for other institutions, the collection has become an essential means by which the museum asserts its contemporaneity. How has this situation come about? What are its most significant precursors of the contemporary museum—and what are its possible futures? How do we define the “contemporaneity” of contemporary art today?
This conference aims to tackle key questions around the museum as an institutional entity and contemporary art as an art historical category. Speakers will provide an overview of developments across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Particular attention will be paid to the construction of historical narratives (or their abandonment) through collection displays, the role of research in relation to contemporary art, the alternative models that are already having an impact, and their relationship to more traditional museum infrastructures.
Presented by the PhD Program in Art History at CUNY Graduate Center, Independent Curators International (ICI),and the New Museum, this conference aims to bring historians of contemporary art, influential curators and artists into dialogue inspired by these issues.
Founded in 1961, the Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). Funding for this conference has been supplied by the John Rewald Endowment of the PhD Program in Art History.
Independent Curators International produces exhibitions, events, publications, and training opportunities for diverse audiences around the world. In thirty-five years of operation, ICI has organized 116 traveling exhibitions, as well as numerous events, publications, and training opportunities for diverse audiences around the world, profiling the work of more than 3,700 artists. Generous support for this conference has been provided by the Gerrit Lansing ICI Fund, created in 2010 to support education and training programs for curators internationally.
Thursday, March 10 | 7–9 p.m. | New Museum more info
Welcome by Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director of the New Museum
Prologue: “Exhibition Machines,” Philippe Vergne and Paul Chan
Friday, March 11 | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | CUNY Graduate Center more info
Introduction by Claire Bishop, Associate Professor of Art History, CUNY Graduate Center
Panel: “Revisiting The Late Capitalist Museum”
Dialogue: “Sources of the Contemporary Museum”
Carlos Basualdo and Pamela M. Lee in conversation
“The Artist’s Perspective”
Dara Birnbaum and Ute Meta Bauer in conversation
Roundtable: “Contemporanizing History/Historicizing the Contemporary”
Saturday, March 12 | 12–6 p.m. | New Museum more info
Introduction by Eungie Joo and Kate Fowle
Panel: “Extending Infrastructures Part I: Platforms and Networks”
Panel: “Extending Infrastructures for the Future, Part II: Bricks & Mortar”
“What does the museum stand for now?”
Sunday, March 13 | 2–6p.m. | New Museum more info
“Graduate students respond”