Tuesday, July 24, 2012

moca, deitch, binity & roberta smith's artlibor hallucination

binity makes one big smile

roberta smith has a piece in the nytimes. read it. the present crisis at MOCA has the best ingredients of our epoch: the cachet of contemporary art & the melodrama of a mexican novela. pure behind-the-scenes artliboring.

who's the culprit?
Jeffrey Deitch, who closed his SoHo gallery in the spring of 2010 to become director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, an institution with an enviable curatorial record but historically plagued by financial problems.
as a precaution, let's bracket deitch-ditching for a moment. how can "enviable curatorial" be "historically plagued" with financial problems? from the market perspective, a curator reflects a natural selection process of arthoodication whereby art commodities become legitimized, i.e., ready for circulation. however, let's not take the part for the whole: a curator is a mere cog in a mechanism. smith contrasts "curatorial record" with "financial problems" as if that reflects an (exceptional) institutional problem at MOCA. as we'll see, she plays by the art market book:

to draw a parallel, j. p. morgan's ceo james dimon's argument for the bank's 2 billion lost to trade is that it was the mistake of traders at a london office, a typical example of avoiding the truth. but when 2 billion become 9 billion you run out of excuses.

is there a logical explanation for dimon's überdisconnect? unless he is a victm of libor hallucination!   

let's come back to smith's article. she never probes the REAL cause of the crisis at MOCA. instead we get a simplified story. the new york times critic plays naive twice. first by advocating Deitch:
I considered it “a brilliant stroke,” I wrote at the time, calling it an example of a museum thinking outside the box, and also an appropriately desperate measure for desperate times. 
then, by making it look as a truncated misstep (twice naive makes it self-deception):
I didn’t buy the idea that someone from the gallery world cannot cross over into the museum sphere or that advanced degrees in art history are essential, and I still don’t.

as we'll see, smith will forget her "and I still don't" when she gives deitch a final advise at the end of her piece.  next, who would think of making this a non-begging distinction??
Rather than encourage and cultivate curators much the way an art dealer encourages and cultivates artists, he has frequently chosen to assume the role of curator himself, when he wasn’t commissioning celebrities to do it.
we get -what appears as- a binity (in red and blue):   
For all his missteps, though, it is much too simplistic to blame Mr. Deitch alone for the air of crisis that now surrounds the museum. He has certainly hurt its image and he has failed to make much of a dent in its more urgent financial problems.
would we be having this discussion if deitch had solved the blue part of the binity?

then smith lets the mea$ure fall:
The museum has long been financially fragile; its board has rarely provided the kind of financial support that an institution of its quality requires and deserves. It continues not to, which brings us back to Mr. Broad.smith points to eli broad's  possible ulterior motives.
the text ultimately betrays the writer's intentions: "has long been financially fragile" needs elucidation & the whole blue above screams for more explaining, which smith simply won't do. for her, it's all about characters in a one-dimensional play. now mr. broad gets the attention:   
His bailout of the museum four years ago gave him a dominance on the board that caused some trustees to leave and suggested to many people the possibility that his bailout might someday morph into a takeover that would merge the museum’s exemplary collection of art with his own, more predictable, market-driven one. It didn’t help that within months of Mr. Deitch’s appointment Mr. Broad finalized plans to build his own museum across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art, now scheduled to open within a year or two.
where is the libor-side of this crisis? by the way, none of this is new. back in 2008 a MOCA merging was very much a possibility. 
Los Angeles' prestigious but chronically underfunded Museum of Contemporary Art has fallen into crisis. Museum Director Jeremy Strick said MOCA is seeking large cash infusions from donors, and this week he did not rule out the possibility of merging with another institution or sharing its collection of almost 6,000 artworks. 
 at some point, everything comes undone:
For his part Mr. Deitch has to become a real museum director. He has to stop organizing exhibitions — in part to create more of a firewall between his new job and his previous identity. He has to hone his fund-raising skills and hire and cultivate curators (...) which of course will take money.
this trivial advise to mr. deitch contradicts smith's earlier remark: "and I still don't," i.e., deitch was really hired by MOCA's board to do exactly the opposite of what she advises now and -by her own admission- believed at the time! the predictable result of all this is that in the absence of dealing with the REAL problem, the claim "deitch has to become a real museum director" ends up neutralizing -even- deitch's perceived responsibility. smith's solution to the problem points to the least imaginable target: "los angeles cultural world." 

what to do with this hallucinating finale?
The Los Angeles cultural world cannot turn its back on an institution that has been so central to its stature as one of the world’s greatest art capitals.

No comments: