miercuri, 3 iunie 2009


Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (T-B A21) and the
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University (GSAPP)


Art/Architecture Experimentation with Heritage

A lively panel discussion of artists, architects, historians, critics, collectors, and curators on the new forms of dance between experimental work and heritage.

When a scholar of historic preservation is exhibited within this year’s Biennale and contemporary artists or art institutions increasingly thread themselves into the very fabric of historical neighborhoods, a whole new kind of conversation is necessary. The gallery is turned inside out and the street is turned outside in. A new wave of experiments actively erases the line between art and architecture to rethink the future of the past.

at the Istituto Veneto, Venice
June 6th 2009, 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm, admission free

Panel 1 The institution’s perspective – the guardians of public patrimony
4:00 pm–5:30 pm

DANIEL BIRNBAUM (Director of 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Director Portikus and Städelschule, Frankfurt/Main)


BORIS GROYS (Professor of Philosophy and Art History at the Academy of Art and Design, Karlsruhe, Germany and Global Distinguished Professor at the New York University, USA)

Sir NORMAN ROSENTHAL (Exhibitions Secretary, Royal Academy of Arts, London (1977-2007))


(Curator T-B A21)

moderated by JOHN RAJCHMAN (Philosopher. Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Columbia University)

Traditional art institutions carry the mandate to preserve, interpret and make accessible the “archives of the past” for future generations. They concern themselves with historiography in the sense that they propose a reading of the past and the objects that represent a particular interpretation of the historical.

One of the most difficult challenges in thinking about the museum in the 21st century has been the museum’s “static status” as a repository of objects, frozen in a singular concept of time, which has made it difficult to use museums as a site from which to theorize change. Many museums today are still structured along the model of the “Museum Acropolis”, creating a museum district, which symbolically dominates the city and structurally is often isolated from it, or the “encyclopedic collection”, trying to fill historic lacunae, rather than opening up towards the new. However, most historic institutions have understood that any strategy of isolation and obstinate perpetual revival of past achievements no longer serves contemporary audiences.

Panel 2 Experimental preservation

6:00 pm–7:30pm

JORGE OTERO-PAILOS (Professor of Historic Preservation, Columbia University)

(Chairman T-B A21)

(Senior Advisor for International Affairs, Guggenheim Foundation)

(Founder and Artistic Director, Prospect New Orleans, and Visual Arts Director, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans)

LORENZO FUSI (International Curator Liverpool Biennial '10)


moderated by MARK WIGLEY (Dean of Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University)

More recent transdisciplinary approaches to the study of cultural sites and practices offer an approach, which dares to cross between a number of seemingly disparate disciplines and social vectors. It is the experimental field which seems to have most to say about the media, education, tourism, patrimony, urban development, corporate interests and images in relation to society, culture, and the economy. These ideas have redefined the institution as an urban attractor, a field of energy and creativity that actively redefines the city.

However, the most vital examples are often temporary sites of artistic display, commerce and exchange – as exemplified by the Art Biennales or the International Art Fairs, which are mushrooming in “new” places such as Beijing, Dubai, and Moscow. These models derive from the International Fairs of the 19th century, which have had an enormous impact on museum culture, but also connect seamlessly to trends in popular culture, trade, personality cult, and spectacularization that accelerate the de-institutionalization and temporalization of cultural practices. Like the international exhibitions of the 19th century, these events produce carefully controlled liminal spaces in a carnivalesque atmosphere.

Even the newest of these new sites of display in the newest of cities mobilizes concepts of heritage. Even the most contemporary institutions presenting the most contemporary work necessarily engage with concepts of heritage. In reverse, radical contemporary thinking about heritage necessarily produces new kinds of institution and new kinds of art. As Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett puts it, ‘heritage and tourism are collaborative industries, heritage converting locations into destinations and tourism making them economically viable as exhibits of themselves’.

This becomes very explicit when the two come together as powerful agents of urban renewal and creating the parameters for master-planned architectural interventions. Heritage itself becomes the most active construction site of all, the site of the most radical experiments and the incubator of the most complex and contested positions. Heritage has become the last temptation of the contemporary.

This joint T-B A21/GSAPP symposium has been triggered by the installation The Ethics of Dust: Doges Palace, Venice, 2009 by Jorge Otero-Pailos in the Arsenale.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

Himmelpfortgasse 13
1010 Vienna

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