Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
This article in Hyperallergic critiqued the current (and soon ending) exhibition at the Guggenheim Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today. The author points out that three very strong pieces in the show are not given the attention or ‘spotlight’ that they deserve, and that this oversight is a result of the structure of the museum itself.
The author claims that three video pieces by Tania Bruguera of Cuba, Regina José Galindo of Guatemala, and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz of Puerto Rico are ‘nearly obliterated’ by the physical constraints of the Guggenheim.
I have never been to the Guggenheim, so as I read the article I tried to wonder how a contemporary art museum could thwart the very work it displays through its own structure. I looked up this description from the Guggenheim’s own website that illustrated the unique design more clearly: like a nautilus shell, the exhibition space is a spiral from top to bottom.
As the author says, the very premise of the show is staggering in terms of the size of the geographic and thematic range. The show is representing such a wide range of artists, issues, and themes, and you could say that the museum has an ethical duty to the artists to represent them to the best of their ability. But what if it isn’t within the ability of the Guggenheim to showcase some of these artists in the best way possible?
This is what the author claims has happened with the three video pieces, which ironically, deal with issues of representation, identity, and freedom of speech.
This article reminded me a lot of Andrew’s presentation about multimedia cultural centers and ‘different animals, not bigger animals’. The issue here isn’t how the Guggenheim has altered, but how the experience of certain artworks have been altered because of their display in the Guggenheim. Though it is a prestigious cultural and educational institution, the author makes a strong case that the video pieces would be much better served in a different kind of space. I wonder if the Guggenheim considered this when they were preparing for the show? With their unique structure, they had to have had many instances of display conflicts in the past. Do you think art museums should still attempt to mount a show if they are aware that their platform might not be the best for the artists’ interest?
Just some things I”m thinking about. You should read the article to learn more about the video pieces- they’re very interesting!
p.s.- one more monkey. Not a bigger animal, just a more stylish one.