Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Yokelist Manifesto 5: We need local retrospectives

We hereby announce two new Yokelist rules of thumb. If a local museum exhibits a local artist older than 50 that show should probably be a retrospective. And if that museum has shown that artist before, that show should definitely be a retrospective.

What prompted these helpful guidelines is the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art’s current exhibitions of 44-year-old Mexican artist Damian Ortega and 66-year-old Krzysztof Wodiczko, who splits his time between Cambridge, New York, and Warsaw. The ICA has presented the work of both artists before.

Hurray to the ICA for giving major play to local guy Wodiczko – and Wodiczko does something amazing with it. But look at the play he gets. Ortega gets half the museum for a full-scale retrospective. Wodiczko gets one room for a video installation and a short hall to display three videos on televisions.

If Boston aspires to be a major art center, our museums need to support not just our local hungry young up-and-comers, but also our grayhairs. We need to give our emerging artists small shows that help them emerge and our established artists retrospectives that showcase what they can do.

The ICA does declare itself a major international player by putting on “the first-ever survey exhibition of Ortega's work.” But what else does the ICA signal by how it plays Wodiczko and Ortega?

Imagine what Wodiczko could have done with the space Ortega got. And it would have been a declaration – locally and internationally – about the caliber of art created here and the ambitions we have for Boston.

Yokelist Manifesto Number 1: Boston lacks alternative spaces?
Yokelism at the 2008 Boston Art Awards.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 2: Montreal case study.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 3: Hire locally.
Yokelist Manifesto Number 4: We need coverage of our living artists.


Anonymous Thomas Garvey said...

Hear, hear, etc. Doesn't it bug you the way local wannabe sophistos yap about how the crass hoi polloi are holding the ICA back from making Boston a "major art center" (via the likes of Shepard Fairey!) while never noticing (or even silently agreeing with) the short shrift the ICA gives the best among our local artists? I mean, sorry, but handing an award to one of Barbara Krakow's artists every year will not transform Boston into a major arts center. Nor will 20-year retrospectives devoted to politically hot skaterboy plagiarists. We won't be a "major arts center" until we realize that.

December 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM  

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