Museum21 is an international symposium which investigates new perspectives on the role and function of public galleries and museums in the 21st-century by exploring their key challenges, frictions and possibilities. Artists, curators and historians are invited to address both a retrospective and a prospective consideration of the role of galleries and museums as informed by past and present contemporary art and practice. The over arching theme of the symposium traces the historic function of the museum, in particular the impact of institutional critique in the 1960s and early 1970s and questions how best galleries and museums can maintain their relevance and legitimacy in the contemporary world.
Exploring the wider notion of the museum as institution, idea and practice, the following questions arise: ‘What is the point’ of a museum in the 21st-century? Should galleries and museums compete or create an alternative to the mega exhibitions of Biennales and Art Fairs? How can galleries and museums best serve a mobilised multicultural public? Has the need to attract audience and funding made the artistic or intellectual credibility of galleries and museums questionable? To what extent is the self-reflexive institution generating new conditions for collaboration and interpretation? Are public galleries and museums still the main sites for cultural innovation and the reception of contemporary art?
Museum21 seeks to investigate paradigms in Museum practices and re-consider new perspectives and future scenarios of the public gallery and museum concept.
Papers will be presented by the following six international speakers:
Okwui Enwezor is a curator, writer and poet. He is Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute and is Adjunct Curator at International Center of Photography, New York. Enwezor is founder and editor of the critical art journal Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art published by the Africana Study Center, Cornell University. Most recently Enwezor is serving as the Artistic Director of the 7th Gwangju Biennale, opening in 2008. He was the Artistic Director of the 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Seville, Spain (2005-2007), and Artistic Director of Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (1998-2002).
Bart De Baere is Director of the MuHKA, the Antwerp Contemporary Art Museum, which also has a film museum component and which co-publishes the Afterall Journal. De Baere studied archeology and history of art, and worked as an art critic from early in his career. He was a curator in the Ghent Museum of Contemporary Art (now SMAK), where he curated many exhibtions, among which This is the Showand the Show is Many Things. He was a curator for Documenta IX and was an adviser for the Soros Foundations in Eastern Europe, for the biennials in Johannesburg and São Paulo, and for the Flemish Minister of Culture in the formulation of a new policy for cultural heritage. He served as Chairman of the Flemish Museum Commission and was until 2008 Chairman of the Flemish Council for Culture. He co-founded the Time Festival in Ghent and the Art Centre Wiels in Brussels.
Andrea Fraser is an artist whose work has been identified with performance, context art and institutional critique. The Kunstverein in Hamburg produced a 20-year retrospective of her work in 2003. Her recent books include Andrea Fraser: Works 1985-2003, available from DuMont, and Museum Highlights: The Writings of Andrea Fraser.
Enrique Juncosa is Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Juncosa was born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in 1961. From 2000 to 2002 he was Deputy Director of the Reina Sofía National Museum of Modern Art (MNCARS), Madrid, and previous to that he was Deputy Director of the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), Valencia. He has curated more than 30 exhibitions, these include Olafur Eliasson (2003), Juan Uslé (2004), Dorothy Cross (2005), Howard Hodgkin (2006), Miroslaw Balka (2007) and Miquel Barceló (2008). Juncosa is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and advisor to the Collections of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg and the National Museum in Krakow. He is also on the Board of the Miró Foundation in Palma. Juncosa has also published six books of poetry and two collections of essays.
Susan Pearce is Professor of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Previous roles include President of the Museums Association (1996-1998), Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries of London (2004-2006) and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester (2000-2003). She holds a Research Fellowship at Somerville College, Oxford. Pearce is the author of a number of books and her research focuses on the interpretation of Material Culture.
Carey Young is an artist, whose work employs a variety of media, including video, photography and performance. Based in London, she has exhibited widely, most notably in solo shows at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, (2005 and 2007 – as part of Performa05 Biennial). Young uses found tools, language and training processes from the worlds of the Multinational Corporation and global law firms and alters them within an artistic context, exploring ideas of autonomy, performativity, intimacy and dissent.
Museum21 follows a series of international symposia hosted by IMMA. To Have and To Hold (2003) addressed collecting policies, Curating Now (2004) investigated international curatorial practice and Access All Areas (2006) addressed issues of public access to contemporary art in public museums and galleries.
Museum21 is programmed by Sophie Byrne: Assistant Curator: Talks and Lectures, Education and Community Department, IMMA.
Acknowledgments Helen O Donoghue, Lisa Moran, Mark Maguire, Janice Hough, Jen Phelan: Education and Community Department, IMMA.