Spooks By Me

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I’m thinking about the upcoming reading with Carrie Lorig and Joe Hall in the new Agitprop space, which may or may not be called Agitprop, and also thinking about a conversation that David White & I had a few months ago about art spaces and museums and how clusters of smaller, multi-use spaces might be (to us) more interesting than a larger, space. And less expensive, of course.

And I’m thinking about how SFMOMA is closing for expansion and the Grupa O.K. proposal for a museum series on the Open Space blog and the recent post from Byron Peters, Matt Post and Xiaoyu Weng based on a conversation responding to the whole series.

This, especially, from the end of the post:

We would, by contrast, pose the possibility that “expansion” might take a different form entirely. If, as Terry Smith offered in “You can be a Museum, or Contemporary…”, “the remodernist modern/contemporary museum continues to serve contemporary artists by steadfastly demonstrating the look of somewhere not to be,” perhaps the goal might simply be to redistribute the museum’s immense energies somewhere else. This could, in the very least, amount to an increased advocacy for spaces for art free of gift shops, of art-as-tourism, or comprised of something other than dizzying storage facilities for privately-owned value. In other words, with the museum as an expanding frame of reference, we might look to an imaginative demand as sort of counter rhythm, an equal and opposite force to ‘productive’ expansion in general. As Marcus evinced, and we agree, “to resist the encroachment of capital in the present climate, therefore, means harnessing the museum’s resources against the logic of productivity, elevating time-insensitive activities above the “proper” (i.e., productive) use of space.”

What is to be done? We will make two modest proposals, which might begin to undo the logic of privatization we describe above, and to hold the museum to the promise of its public relations. First, the museum should abolish fees outright for admission and membership, as, for example,the Dallas Museum of Art has already done, and expanding SFMOMA’s Art for All proposal to the entire institution.

And second, the museum should make permanent its temporary program during closure, of off-site projects and support for community partners—and indeed should extend its resources, expertise, and collection further to otherwise underserved and sorely underfunded arts institutions in the Bay Area. Enacting these proposals would begin to realize a “community ownership of cultural riches” that will otherwise remain a convenient rhetorical pose. This would be an expansion worth embracing.

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