28 October, 2010

28 Oct - Irene Hofmann and Marcia Tucker

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Last night we attended a cocktail reception for SITE Santa Fe's new Director Irene Hofmann at the stunning home of Bill and Alicia Miller. When Hofmann stood before the small crowd to introduce herself she relayed an anecdote of her first week on the job. A SITE a staff member asked her whom she most admired as a role model. Her response was Marcia Tucker, the founder of the New Museum in New York. I caught my breath and felt a wave of excitement - I chose Marcia Tucker as one of three inspiring and intrepid women in the arts to be the subjects of my Masters Thesis this past year (the other two were Betty Parsons and Alanna Heiss). I selected women that I wanted to know more about and whom I considered role models for their courage, tenacity, and dedication despite bitter hostility and widespread unpopularity. Marcia
Tucker spent a lifetime as a subversive, an adventurer, and never ceased to challenge the boundaries of contemporary art.

When initially presented, new forms of art and installation can incite fury and derision among art patrons, critics, and general audiences. New paradigms are unsettling and artistic breakthroughs can threaten belief systems people hold dear to their understanding of the art world and how it functions. Some of the most distinguished and iconic artists in modern history have found notoriety and recognition through years, even decades, of slowly evolving acceptance into the cultural mainstream.
In many respects, the curator or director who chooses to present original work to a frequently bewildered and uncomfortable audience shares quite closely the challenges that face cutting-edge artists. Curators and directors promoting distinctively innovative contemporary art meet with harsh castigation for the work they present. In their attempts to uncover “the nerve endings of contemporary art” (as described by Tate Museum curator Nicholas Serota) , forward-thinking curators continually question the way art functions in response to the modern world. The curator must translate into exhibitions, catalogs, and discussions, concepts and forms that have yet to be defined, much less understood.
Exposing and promoting the nerve endings of contemporary art demands participation outside of and attention beyond mainstream culture. Tucker called this “loving the margins.” “I always feel that the margins tell you more than the center of the page ever could. Loving the margins is risky, because you’re not only in unfamiliar territory, but often in hostile terrain as well” . The margins reflect independent thinking rather than the perpetuation of extant cultural structures. When new art is presented to contemporary audiences, historical facts and cultural consensus are not yet available to ensure the import of the work or to allay fear of the unknown. In the words of Betty Parsons, “You can’t put something that’s just been done into history; you’ve got to talk about its creative impact for the moment. A new work by a new artist is not history. It is the present.”
Here is to Irene Hofmann, Marcia Tucker, and all of the powerful women who have come before us to continue to take risks, incite audiences, and endlessly feel for the nerve endings of contemporary art.
images: Irene Hofmann, Bill Miller introducing Irene, Marcia Tucker

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments!