Picasso for Art’s Sake at the AGO
This is going to be a bit of a rant and I apologize in advance. But this is a blog and that’s what these things are really for, so..
From yesterday’s article in the Globe and Mail on the AGO’s upcoming Picasso exhibition:
One thing visitors won’t be getting is lots of information on the walls. Each objet will be identified in situ – but there is only one substantive text panel, at the show’s start, while each of the exhibition’s seven sections will be prefaced only by a single quotation, such as “Art is never chaste” (for the grouping called Surreal Anxiety and Desire/1924-34).
It’s completely intentional, of course. Didactic panels bunch up viewers and tend to mediate, even “blind” their experience of the art, Baldassari said.
“What we need to do is go freely to the work. We have to have the courage to be nude in front of the works. An exhibition is not a text, is not a book. We don’t need any explanation at the first level of contact … to respect it, to put people under its power. What is an exhibition but a machine to exhibit people to the work? We need to be in a direct relation, without any ‘facilities,’ no small stories, no narratives.”
(James Adams: Picasso returns to Toronto: Are you ready to be ‘nude in front of the works’?, April 24 2012)
Cringe. This view is so loaded with old-fashioned modernist thinking, with the idea of art for art’s sake, and that we go to see this exhibition to worship and be in awe of the creative genius that is Picasso… Needless to say, I take issue!
Storytelling in the Museum
After weeks of shoving this thing under the carpet, I found last night that I have lost my way on the museum path lately, and that it is impossible to simply hop back on track to write some blog entry if I have made no effort to stay informed.
The more time I spend outside the field, the more challenging it is to keep myself updated on the exciting things going on in museums all over the world. And then what will I write about?
So today I was on a mission to chip away at the block I experienced yesterday, and I discovered Museum-iD’s free book chapters available online.
(I’m not sure what/where this is, but it is exactly the image that comes to mind when you hear “Storytelling in the Museum”, isn’t it?)
Museum-iD is an independent thinktank and publishing house dedicated to serving the museum community. It has published 9 books within the last year with various themes: museum & education, museums & sustainability, museums & social media…
One chapter I’ve read so far is on the use of storytelling in museums. It explores the effective potential that storytelling has with engaging visitors in museums.
While storytelling is the most natural way in which we as humans relate to our lives and to one another, as an interpretive method it must be used with caution. Why? Think about it: I tell the story, you listen to it. This passive experience for visitors is exactly what we want to avoid in new museological practice. So the article then references ideas and projects that facilitate story-led experiences, with a much more active role for visitors. It’s a great read for all those interpretive planning and exhibition design geeks, such as myself.
That’s it for tonight. Tot ziens!
Nice to meet you!
It’s been a year since I graduated and became a Master of Art Museum Education at Newcastle University.
The past 12 months have followed with:
1) a series of failed attempts to join the gallery & museum sector in the Netherlands (where I’m currently living), and
2) my eventual employment at a corporate monster of hotel booking madness.
Yes, it’s been a year, and it’s taken a good friend to nudge me in this direction. Why give up career aspirations of inspiring and sharing creativity with others, just because I don’t speak Dutch? Why stop thinking about museums and galleries at all, just because I don’t work in one?
So here I am. With my plan to write about museum & gallery-related topics/news that I personally think bear repetition in this vast, transforming, and ever-confusing space we apparently call the blogosphere…!
Read about the Getty’s Google Goggle project after the jump…