Toronto . Montreal Canada . New York USA #2 . $ FREE visitmagazine.org
Publisher / Editor
Alexandre Dias Ramos
In hard copy, VISIT magazine is distributed mainly, but not exclusively, in the cities of Toronto, Montreal (Canada), and New York (USA) in selected bookstores, museums, galleries, and art institutions, which contribute greatly to the expansion of dialogue about curating in the art world. If you want to have VISIT magazine in your institution, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Board Alexandre Dias Ramos (Toronto), Camila Kieling (Porto Alegre), Jonathan T. D. Neil (Los Angeles / New York), Leanne Elizabeth Simaan (Toronto), Maria Hirszman (São Paulo), Valentine Moreno (Toronto)
Designer Alexandre Dias Ramos
Operations Manager Leanne Elizabeth Simaan
Translator Paul Webb
Proofreader Emma Sheppard
Pages 17 and 26, images from the book Playing to the Gallery by Grayson Perry. © 2014 by Grayson Perry. Used by permission of Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Issue #2 . April 2016 ISSN 2369-4688
Rafael Salsa Correa
VISIT curatorial art magazine 955 Queen Street West, #203, M6J 3X5, Toronto, ON, Canada email@example.com
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Call for Submissions
© 2016 by VISIT curatorial art magazine All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without permission in writing from the Publisher.
top . Launch of VISIT
magazine at The Spoke Club, Toronto, in October 2015. Photo: Rafael Salsa Correa. cover . See page 22.
Architecture and new technologies: the museum as mass phenomenon . by Bianca Lupo
Pieta in New York: an incredible loan . by Camila Kieling
EDITORIAL . by Alexandre Dias Ramos First off, we would like to thank everyone for the incredible reception, support and success that the first issue of this magazine enjoyed. It was extremely well received in various places and events and, over the past six months, we have had the pleasure of conversing, on numerous occasions, about the fascinating process of exhibiting art. Many thanks to the artistic community for embracing this project. And now we have arrived at our second issue. Although VISIT does not have special editions on specific themes, there are clearly some common threads that connect the articles. In some instances, they have been chosen and arranged in order to complement one another, in other cases, they are meant to show contrast, and thus create, along with the reader, a critical experience of our favourite subject: curating art. To some extent, all of the articles in this issue are connected to architecture and the process of architecting, whether through a physical relationship to space or through the planning of projects and ideas. How can architecture contribute to or inhibit creativity? How do people in the art world deal with art space, which is physical, but also social? This issue also brings together in conversation: Mia Nielsen with Lukus Toane, Camila Kieling with Barbara Strongin, Jennifer Fisher with Jim Drobnick (of course), and Dax Morrison with Su-Ying Lee. Furthermore, there are esteemed contributions by Bianca Lupo, April Lee and Grayson Perry, which alone make it worth a visit. So, enjoy!
The logistical challenges of moving a priceless work of art . by Barbara Strongin TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS
Shop series . by Dax Morrison
Dax Morrisonâ€™s Shop series . by Su-Ying Lee
17 . 26 Cartoons . by Grayson Perry
Far beyond the white cube: the Drake and Gladstone Hotels . by Alexandre Dias Ramos, Mia Nielsen, and Lukus Toane
Curating the city: Collectioneering and the affects of display . by Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick
24 Horoscope . by April Lee 11
CONTRIBUTORS Alexandre Dias Ramos
Independent curator and art editor, he studied Visual Arts in University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. Holds a Specialist’s degree in Art Education and in Museum Studies; a Master’s degree in Sociology of Culture, and a PhD in Art History, Theory and Criticism. Alex is the Publisher of VISIT curatorial art magazine.
Jennifer is a critic, curator and Associate Professor at York University, Toronto. Her research focuses on exhibition practices and the aesthetics of the non-visual senses. In 2012, she and Jim Drobnick founded the Journal of Curatorial Studies; and together they form the curatorial collaborative DisplayCult.
April is a former criminal defence and child protection lawyer who has embraced the creative life after experiencing an early midlife crisis. She pretends to be a mom, actress and screenwriter.
Jim is a critic, curator and Associate Professor of Contemporary Art Theory at OCAD University, Toronto. He and Jennifer Fisher founded the Journal of Curatorial Studies and the curatorial collaborative DisplayCult, which has produced exhibitions, conferences and publications since 1998.
Barbara Strongin Barbara currently serves as Director of Administration for Sotheby’s Institute of Art (NY), where she is also a faculty member. She served as Senior Vice President, Director of Operations for Christie’s Auction House over the course of twenty-six years. She also conducts various Auctioneer’s Training Programs to train auctioneers for a variety of international organizations.
Lukus is the Director of Exhibitions at the historic Gladstone Hotel. Having a background in creative project development, his role includes overseeing all artistic programming throughout the exhibition year within the four floors of gallery space at the Gladstone.
Architect and urbanist, she graduated from the University of São Paulo, Brazil (2015), and has studied Architecture and Society at Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy (2014), and is currently a Postgraduate student of Museology and Art Collections at the Centro Universitário Belas Artes, São Paulo (2016).
Mia is a curator with a keen interest in programming for public spaces. Over the last 15 years, she has curated exhibitions and public installations for galleries, art fairs and museums in Canada, the US and Europe. Since 2007, she has been curator of the Drake Hotel.
Su-Ying is an independent curator whose projects often take place outside of the traditional gallery platform. She has also held institutional positions including as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and Curator-in-Residence at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.
Camila is an editor and researcher, and holds a Master’s degree in Social Communication (PUCRS, Brazil). Her background includes editorial coordination of Literature, History, Photography and Education projects. She is a doctoral candidate in Social Communication and a devoted visitor of art museums around the world.
Dax Morrison Dax completed his MFA at the University of Windsor, Canada. He has exhibited work at YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Diaz Contemporary, CSA Space, Art Gallery of Windsor, The Power Plant, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Gallery 44, and Forest City Gallery.
Grayson Perry Grayson Perry is an English artist and the winner of the 2003 Turner Prize. His work, often in ceramic, chronicles contemporary life, his childhood and his transvestite alter ego Claire. His drawings are also very popular and often depict the irony of the art world.
Architecture and new technologies: the museum as mass phenomenon . by Bianca Lupo
Increasingly stimulating, museums are attracting people from all walks of life, not only with their exhibitions, but also are drawing in people who admire the diverse styles of architecture
top . The façade of the Royal
Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. Photo: Sam Javanrouh. © Royal Ontario Museum.
Museums are currently enjoying a marked increase in popularity. Long lines, ambitious architectural projects and extensive coverage in traditional media and social networks have become common in recent years. Museums are increasingly playing host to a more diverse range of visitors and are mixing leisure, culture and entertainment. In fact, museums are now “must-see” attractions on the cultural and tourist circuits of cities, fuelled by heavy investment in marketing, production, and renovation of permanent exhibitions that expand their reach. The museum as a mass phenomenon is relatively new, born of the post-modern society of the
1970s. So-called “museum culture”, characterized by realizing the potential of a broad gamut of producers and consumers of cultural artefacts, has employed a range of promotional and creative resources to transform the culture into a grand success. Large-scale architectural interventions — generally using innovative, apparently high-tech, construction materials and techniques — are strategies for generating interest and promoting the institution. The restoration and refitting of historical buildings has contributed enormously to the development of adjacent public spaces. Architecture has come to be seen as a vital element of com-
munication, dominating space with its persuasive and symbolic power, in spectacular spatial experiences based on projects by renowned architects. Examples of this include Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s National Coach Museum (Lisbon, 2015), Zaha Hadid’s National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome, 2009), and Daniel Libeskind’s renovation of the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, 2007). On the outside, the spectacular architecture of museums has made an important visual mark on the urban fabric of cities. Likewise, inside, in addition to the auditoriums, gift shops, cafés, bookstores and cyberspaces that invite the visitor to stay, a number of measures have been adopted to make exhibitions more attractive, colourful and seductive. Therefore, current architecture and exhibition design both seek to impress the general public as well as expand their capacity to relate to what they’re seeing. It is thus common to find monitors, screens, projections, light and sound spectacles, performances and other features that bring the language of museums closer to the intrinsic characteristics of the information era. Other resources have been mobilized to facilitate communication between the museum and the general public: audio-guides, mobile tags, QR Codes, and apps add various levels of information to the visit. Some of these resources can also be used outside the museum space, creating new ways of reaching out to the public — before, during and after the visit. The museum thus encourages the active participation of museum-goers in the production of artistic meaning and becomes a space for a mutual construction of knowledge. Apart from fostering new relationships between visitors and art objects, the incorporation of digital tools in museum spaces has also created new possibilities regarding the preservation of historical and artistic heritage. Furthermore, it is no longer even absolutely necessary that works of art be physically present for a museum to exist, as can be seen from the proliferation of institutions that have no collection but use technology to present, in a playful and imaginative fashion, free and non-material themes. It is thus possible
to expand the field of action of museums by approaching new kinds of heritage. In such cases, museum research centers on activities such as collection of testimonials, videos, interviews and digital archives. Such cases include the House of Terror Museum (Budapest, 2002), the Museum of the Portuguese Language (São Paulo, 2006),1 the Football Museum (São Paulo, 2008) and the Museum of Jewish Montreal (2010). Such profound changes have provoked a series of reflections on their significance and consequences. How do the architecture of museums and their relationship with their collections respond to the new demands of the contemporary world? How does the museum relate to the general public in a digital age? How can new themes be incorporated into the museum space? These questions are clearly not easily answered. In some way, this would seem to be the perfect time for those interested in museums to visit them, think about and reflect upon them. And why not take a selfie before you leave? ¶
top . Cat mummy through
the ScopifyROM app. Photo: Brian Boyle. © Royal Ontario Museum. 1 . In December 2015, the Museum of the Portuguese Language, located in the Estação da Luz building, was destroyed by fire. However, the digital nature of the collection meant that it was possible to recover it using existing backups – demonstrating the new possibilities opened by the use of digital technology in the field of the preservation of heritage.
Far beyond the white cube: the Drake and Gladstone Hotels
. by Alexandre Dias Ramos, Mia Nielsen, and Lukus Toane
Drake and Gladstone are two hotels that go beyond the category of simply being a boutique hotel, bringing the visitors an intense array of arts programming. The following is an animated conversation between Mia Nielsen, Curator of the Drake Hotel, and Lukus Toane, Director of Exhibitions for the Gladstone Hotel. Alexandre Dias Ramos . Hotels usually have some contact
below . The Drake Hotel
building, 1890, was expanded in 1949 and renovated in 2004. Toronto, Canada.
with the art world if/when they buy works to decorate their rooms, but never again after that. When and why did the Hotel decide to include visual arts in its identity and structure, to the point of hiring a curator to develop a continuous program?
Mia Nielsen . That vision [year-round programming] was really led by our owner, Jeff Stober. He purchased the original Drake Hotel in November 2001.
His vision for the space was to create a hotel for locals, a place where travellers could immediately immerse themselves in Torontoâ€™s creative community. We donâ€™t simply purchase a work of art. Our relationships with artists are ongoing. For example, Micah Lexier, a Toronto-based artist, has a wall here that has been an ongoing project for 6 years now. Then there is Lazy Mom (Josie Keefe and Phyllis Ma), artists from NY, who have a site-specific piece [Nice to Meat You] in our lounge and who we continue to work with. Needless to say, the artists who work here are a part of the fabric of the Drake. Lukus Toane . The process was quite organic. Christina Zeidler, the developer and president of the Gladstone, is an artist herself. She used strategies from artist culture to develop the business 13 years ago.
Christina’s background positioned her to have a more profound reason for engaging artists than just as a way to decorate hallways. The revitalization of the hotel became much more tangible when the local arts community got involved. In the beginning, Christina managed the curatorial work herself, as an extension of the development mandate. This eventually led to the need for a full time position to handle our robust exhibitions department and the four floors of exhibition space. ADR . A hotel is certainly not a traditional space to cu-
rate works of art. Its natural condition is not that of a white cube amidst all of the rooms, hallways, furniture, carpets and stairs. Its clients are also much more diverse than the public of museums or art galleries. That being said, what are the challenges of being the curator in a hotel?
LT . I am interested in using the unique historical context of the Gladstone and its function as a hospitality venue as a backdrop for arts engagement. What could we say within this unique space? Hotels are ephemeral and transitional by nature. They are places where many people come and go at different times and the Gladstone really plays with this idea through its cultural programming. As a social and cultural hub we tend to be more active than a traditional art gallery. The mandate is to create a more accessible art space that could be flexible and responsive to what is truly contemporary in art. A really fun part of my role as Director of Exhibitions is being able to provide guests the exemplary hospitality of a hotel within a Gallery setting. An example of the way in which the hotel incorporates art into its very function is in our Artist Design Hotel Rooms, which was a project conceived by Christina and involved a juried call out to the community. The call asked artists to design a room that exemplified their practice and allowed hotel guests to be active participants in the work as they stayed within it. As a result, each room is entirely unique and also provides the artists an opportuni-
ty to showcase their work to an international audience and is indicative of the talent within the city. The other example is our annual Come Up To My Room exhibition, which combines the disciplines of art and design to create a four-day immersive show, where designers “take over” the rooms on the second floor of the hotel and transform them into site specific installations. We started this show 13 years ago as a way to utilize the second floor’s hotel rooms which are now used as flex studio space. Since then we have expanded our programming to include other Gladstone-produced, immersive events such as Gladstone Grow Op (a show about urbanism and landscape through the lens of contemporary art), Hard Twist (our group fibre/textile show), That’s So Gay (our Pride show on identity and contemporaneity), and Why the @#&! Do You Paint? (a contemporary painting show). We also have a full roster of exhibitions for which we partner with arts organizations across the city. In short, the most challenging thing at the Gladstone is we are constantly out-doing ourselves in terms of scope and practice.
top . Nice to Meat You, 2015,
by Lazy Mom, The Drake Hotel. left . Reflections From The
Bottom Up, 2013, by Bruno Billio, Come Up To My Room exhibition (top), and Faux Naturelle, by Allyson Mitchell, Hotel Room 304 (bottom), Gladstone Hotel, Toronto.
and Europe. To understand what is significant and important about what is happening locally, you need to have an understanding about what is happening outside of that. There are no limits. ADR . To continue with the theme of art as “room decMN . I think a lot about the visitor experience; what is it like to walk through the doors, through the lobby, up the stairs as they pass each piece, what is the conversation that leads you from one work to another? In that sense it is kind of like a museum experience in the sense that I think about that. My love of curating a public space is presenting artwork to diverse audiences. I love that at the same table you can have a 20-year-old, 2-year-old and an 86-year-old, and through this location I get to, in a way, talk to all of these people. And that’s amazing. People come in here who may not go to galleries in the sense that they don’t come looking for art, but rather, here, the art finds them. For instance, the Evan Penny piece [Back of Kelly V.2] is one of the works that people find curious and I get asked about it all the time because of the nature of the piece. Art people never ask me about it, but people who are new to the arts and don’t have the language for it, usually ask me about it and say, “what’s the deal with the dude” or “who’s that guy?” They are not talking about a bartender, or a doorman, they are talking about the sculpture. It’s hard to ask questions about things you don’t know about, and this piece allows people to be vulnerable without knowing the language. I want to create a dialogue in a particular space, and the major challenge is that people don’t behave here as they would in a gallery.
top . Back of Kelly V.2, 2005, by Evan Penny, The Drake Hotel.
Our cultural program includes visual and performance art, as well as music. We also have three different exhibition programs associated with this venue so we have 5 exhibitions in the lobby, we have long term installations in all of our food and beverage lounges, so anywhere from 2-6 a year, changing periodically. Most of them are murals, large-scale works, and we have a permanent collection, which is in the guest rooms and in some other public spaces. As these spaces change, we have exhibited everyone from OCAD students to internationally significant artists from China, India
oration”, I would understand that any artistic intervention in a hotel is ultimately about decorating its environment. When you select projects, to what extent does the aesthetic aspect take priority over the conceptual aspect?
LT . The Gladstone is not just art on the walls. Artistic intervention is in the very DNA of our model where hotel guests quite literally stay in a work of art. During the planning of the year’s exhibition programming with curators and artists, exhibitors are encouraged to push the boundaries of their practice. We don’t shy away from evocative material in the name of aesthetics. Part of the Gladstone’s core values is to maintain a safe-space for artists to engage with the community in dialogue around their work. A big part of this is creating palpable didactic material with each of our exhibitions so that the hotel guests and visitors (no matter their exposure to art) can engage with the works. We also create participatory experiences through tours, performances, artist talks, etc., in order to provide an enriched context for the work. Over the thirteen years the Gladstone has inspired a huge amount of trust within Toronto’s various artists communities as a place to show their work. MN . It is a marriage. It’s got to be a marriage. And when you’re programming work for public space, aesthetics are important. The wonder of beauty is that it is an excellent tool to disarm people, to help take people out of themselves. Aesthetics are an entry point, but there is always more than that. In essence, it has to be a marriage of strong concepts being shown through aesthetics. ADR . Do you feel that your choices as curator influence
the art market in the city? Conversely, to what extent does the market (artists, dealers, and critics) pressure and influence your program?
LT . The Gladstone’s influence is a subtle but powerful one based in grassroots engagement. Artists of all stripes (and we mean that) can trust the Gladstone as a space in which they can take risks.
Curators, programmers and arts community members see the Gladstone as a space where they can gather and engage in dialogue around not only their practice but also around the issues (social and political) that drive their work. In this way, across the myriad programs and exhibitions that the Gladstone produces and hosts, The Gladstone has become an incubator for new ideas and talent. MN . I don’t know that I influence the market, I wouldn’t say so; however, I do feel that I recognize the market and am totally aware of it. There are some things that I respond to but there are lots of things that I disregard because they are not suitable for the space. ADR . The Gladstone and Drake hotels, located only
two blocks apart, have helped establish and raise the profile of the West Queen West area, which was chosen by Vogue Magazine as the second coolest district in the world. Additionally, both hotels are integrated into Toronto’s art scene as hot beds of culture in the city. How, if it all, have your hotels worked together in this journey? To what extent do you compete with or complement each other, considering that your location and clients are very similar?
LT . In terms of our positions and approaches to cultural expression, I believe we approach our re-
spective programming in very different ways. At the level of engagement they are very different experiences, which is fantastic for the area. But at a distance they kind of seem the same, two art hotels with lots of live programming. This is also an advantage as it draws people to the area. They do not need to know the difference until they come down and experience the two different hotels’ venues. I think we are extremely lucky to have created a “district” for art and hospitality, the likes of which Toronto has never seen. It is a great atmosphere. MN . Part of the magic of Toronto is that we all happily coexist here and we represent two sides of the same coin. I think there is a lot of mutual respect for what we do. We do really different things. In terms of the Drake, we do a lot of long-term installations and exhibitions, everything is curated inhouse, and we don’t offer rental spaces for artists. Every location and venue has a bit of a different personality. And the Gladstone is awesome, people call me and ask if they can show their work at the Drake and I reply by saying that we don’t do that, but our neighbors are awesome at that. We are complementary and I’m really proud that, with our programs we create a lot of opportunities for artists. ¶
top . The Gladstone Hotel
building, designed by George Miller in 1889, was renovated in 1913 and restored in 2005. Special thanks to Leanne Elizabeth Simaan, for recording and transcribing the interview with Mia Nielsen. right . Shop: Art Gallery of
Nova Scotia (Shop series), 2007, by Dax Morrison.
Dax Morrison’s Shop series
. by Su-Ying Lee
Dax Morrison’s Shop series was shown in its entirety at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) as part of the group exhibition TBD (Sept. 6 – Oct. 26, 2014). At the time, MOCCA was beginning the process of relocation due to the expiration of its ten-year lease. The exhibition TBD was conceived of as an opportunity to consider what the definition of a museum/contemporary art gallery is. Through the contributions of artists, proposals by architects and designers, and participation by the broader museum constituency, art institutions like MOCCA were asked to be self-reflexive and critical in their approach to the future. Dax Morrison’s Shop series enters the dialogue of institutional critique through the architecture of the gallery in order to demonstrate the strategies that are instrumentality entwined with the design of space. Through these works the artist highlights the gift shop, a conventional feature of galleries and museums, linking the expectations for culture to accommodate consumerist desire. This requisite accoutrement signals the belief that cultural insti-
Dax Morrison Born in Toronto, Canada, 1977
Shop series, 2007 Screen print on Somerset paper, 14 1/2” x 10 3/4” (each). Artist collection. p. 11 . Shop: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia p. 12 . Shop: Art Gallery of Hamilton p. 13 . Shop: Beaverbrook Art Gallery p. 14 . Shop: Winnipeg Art Gallery p. 15 . Shop: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
tutions can encapsulate an experience into an easy takeaway souvenir. Shops operated by small to mid-sized museums and galleries rarely return notable profits; therefore, their function can be read as extending and “enhancing” visitors’ experiences. This approach to the enhancement of experience, alongside habits of cultural consumption, become essential concerns in light of the often meager resources for free or financially accessible public programmes. In the case that financial profit is not returned from the gift shop, but it remains a privileged institutional constituent, does fulfilling consumer desire become a function and near obligation of the art institution? How does the trade-off between consumer commodities over take-away knowledge and animated experiences position contemporary art and its institutions? ¶
left . MOCCA just before
closing its headquarters at Queen Street West, Toronto, on August 2015. right . Cartoon by Grayson
Perry, from the book Playing to the Gallery.
Pieta in New York: an incredible loan . by Camila Kieling
Bringing the Pieta out of the Vatican to cross the Atlantic seems as extraordinary as the conquest of space Fifty-two years ago, in April 1964, preparations were made for the journey over land and by sea that would bring Michelangelo Buonarroti’s (14751564) iconic sculpture Pieta (1499) from the St. Peter’s Basilica to the pavilions of the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair. Shipped on board the ocean liner Cristoforo Colombo, the priceless cargo roused curiosity, excitement and incredulity around the world. The achievement, which seems improbable today, was only possible thanks to a conducive political environment and minutely detailed logistical planning. Authorization to loan the Pieta to the United States — the first and only time the piece has left the Vatican since Michelangelo installed it there — was given by Pope John XXIII. Negotiations began in the fall of 1962. October of that year saw the opening of the Second Vatican Council, a meeting at which one of the most widely discussed issues was the place of the Catholic Church in the modern world. Days later, the Cuba missile crisis would mark the apex of Cold War tension between the USA and the USSR. Having averted imminent nuclear catastrophe, there was nothing better than the fantastic exhibition of the Pieta, the most perfect artistic expression of compassion, to reflect the values of a Fair that adopted the theme of Peace through Understanding and was dedicated to “man’s achievement on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe”. The conquest of space seemed to know no boundaries. In practical terms, it was an exhaustively prepared trip. Travel logs indicate that the Pieta was wrapped in the most high-tech shock-absorbent
material and placed in a resistant wooden crate surrounded by a water-proof container. A special safety device ensured that the statue would float were the ship to sink. The test-trip was carried out with a replica, which remained in the United States and is currently located at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens, NY. The press at the time reported that the sculpture was insured for US$6 million. The Pieta, amidst the splendid pavilions that exalted scientific prowess and the explosion of American consumerism, became the crown jewel of the Fair. The exhibition setting was designed by Golden Age Broadway set designer, Jo Mielziner (1901-1976). The sculpture was positioned on an inclined plane, which made the face of Jesus in the arms of Maria more visible, as Michelangelo originally intended. Against a royal blue backdrop, crowned by a halo of more than 400 lamps and protected by a bullet-proof sheet of plexiglass, the Pieta was admired by thousands of visitors, balletically carried by moving walkways at different speeds to the sound of Gregorian chants.
bottom left . Pieta was being
packaged in a wooden crate. bottom right . Crate
containing the Pieta leaving the St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican.
The memorable crossing made an enormous impact and allowed the Church to stake out its place in an increasingly technological world. Since this historical event and despite the formidable feat of logistics, the Pieta has never again left St. Peter’s Basilica. A similar feat, although financially
feasible, would probably be impossible today. The experience of the loan of the Pieta revealed the intricate political, economic and technological relations which compose human existence on this planet. ¶
The logistical challenges of moving a priceless work of art . by Barbara Strongin
Loaning the Pieta for the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair vs. today The logistical issues of transporting art in general are challenging enough, but when you consider moving a priceless, fragile marble sculpture that was created in 1499 over 4500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the challenges escalate exponentially.
bottom left . Landing of the
Pieta at the Hudson River pier, New York. bottom right . Moving walkways at various heights enabled millions to view the Michelangelo's sculpture.
© Official Guide Book Vatican Pavilion - 1964/ 1965 New York World's Fair.
Using the expertise of Dennis Dwyer and Dominick Conetta of Dun-Rite Specialized, LLC of New York City, and their knowledge of transporting large, high-value art, I was able to compare and contrast how the move of the Pieta in 1964 would differ from handling the same move in 2016. In 1964, the sculpture was prepared for its transatlantic journey by placing it in a wooden crate, which was then placed in a watertight steel box. The cost of this is unknown. If this was handled by Dun-Rite today, both crates would be constructed of steel with dense foam covering the interior as
to match the contours of the sculpture. Along with additional moisture barriers, the cost for crating today would be US$20,000. Of course, the Pieta would need to be de-installed from the Vatican before any of the above could take place. In order to avoid impacting the normal Vatican activities, this extremely complex and laborious de-installation would have to take place after hours, incurring substantial overtime and labor costs. Normal procedures for a complex move such as this would dictate that the same company and crew handle both the de-installation and the re-installation which requires flying over manpower, and then housing and feeding them — at a cost of more than US$30,000. Now we come to the actual travel costs. Back in 1964, the crated Pieta was transported on a ship across the Atlantic requiring many safety measures (in case of sinking) and other procedures that were put in place to maintain the integrity of the piece for eight grueling days. This arduous trip was then followed by another water journey around Manhattan Island until its eventual re-installation in the World’s Fair grounds. The cost for this transportation back in 1964 is unknown. This same trip in 2016 would be made via cargo plane accompanied by armed security guards. A tractor-trailer would take the precious crate direct-
ly to the NY Fair grounds as soon as it cleared customs. Of course, this would not be an inexpensive undertaking as Dun-Rite has estimated this mode of transportation to cost in excess of US$189,000. The costs of re-installing the sculpture from the tractor-trailer as well as using the special rigging equipment and crew from the de-installation adds another US$33,000 to the price tag. It should also be pointed out that the Pieta was insured in 1964 for US$6 million, and valued at US$100 million. When one considers that a Pablo Picasso painting sold in 2015 for US$179 million,
estimating the value of the Pieta in 2016 is difficult, if not impossible. However, for the sake of argument, if the Pieta were to be valued at US$1 billion, the normal cost of 1% of the value for insurance would mean a US$10 million insurance fee. So, if we add the costs of transportation from the Vatican to the NY Fair grounds together, the approximate cost is roughly US$350,000. Add in the cost of insurance, and now you are looking at a total price tag of potentially US$10,350,000. Let’s not forget, the piece has to then be returned to the Vatican… ¶
top . Michelangelo's Pieta
as exhibited in the Vatican Pavilion at 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair. © 1966 by Vatican Pavilion (New York World's Fair) Inc. Special thanks to Bill Young.
Curating the city: Collectioneering and the affects of display
“ 1 . This is not to say that the city does not have its own set of problems. Austin Kenneth Hracs articulates several that are specific to Kingston: a lack of cultural diversity and tolerance; social and economic polarization; distance from other urban centres; and an ethos of a garrison town. 2 . This detachment of the local community carries an aspect of social traditionalism and privileged exclusion. Local lore states that to be considered one of Kingston’s “old stones” (i.e. a respected and influential member of the community), one’s family must have resided in the city for three generations. 3 . Collectioneering was in part facilitated by an informal organization, the Kingston Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites, which was formed in the early 1980s to promote the city’s culture and history (www. kingstonmuseums.ca).
Kingston is regularly listed as one of the most livable cities in Canada. With a population of 120,000, above-average income and a stable economy, it possesses the advantages of a city without the challenging social and infrastructural issues that can hamper major urban centres such as Toronto or Montreal.1 Citizens take pride in the region’s historical significance, especially its prominence in the nineteenth century when it was the residence of Canada’s first prime minister and served as the country’s capital (1841-44). Since then, the erosion of its role as a seat of government has been offset by the establishment of sizable public service institutions for health, corrections, education and the military, which now dominate the civic landscape. Home to nine prisons, three hospitals, three universities and one of Canada’s primary military bases, Kingston in 2001 had the somewhat dubious distinction of housing the largest number of incarcerated in the country, along with sustaining the nation’s biggest student population per capita. Given the significance of such substantial and long-standing institutions of power and knowledge, Kingston exemplified what we called “a Foucauldian dream” readily evident in the organizations of surveillance, punishment and regulation that suffuse the civic environment. What is distinctive about Kingston is that many of these institutions are funded and directed by officials located elsewhere — prisons and the military are the responsibility of the federal government in Ottawa, while hospitals and universities are overseen by the province in Toronto. Yet, even as these institutions impress formidable edifices upon the urban landscape and comprise the city’s main employers, they stand somewhat detached from the
. by Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick
local community.2 The result is a “silo” effect whereby each institution functions for, and answers to, governing bodies external to Kingston, thus disengaging them from the immediacy of the city’s concerns. One of our goals in curating Collectioneering (2001) centred on transforming Kingston’s evident institutional isolation by provisionally connecting its disparate museums through their collections. In our initial research we were struck by the number and diversity of museums and historical sites in such a medium-sized city, made all the more remarkable for their apparent insularity. Each category of institution — hospital, prison, university, military — had established at least one museum or designated heritage site, and each supported an ongoing collection to document and animate its history. Through extensive site visits we developed a network of participating museums from across the city and sought to link the diverse material culture of Kingston’s institutions within one project.3 In many ways, the relationships we established in curating Collectioneering resulted in a show that drew from both formal and historical narratives to curatorially re-examine the artefacts, settings, relationships and governing discourses of the city’s museological heritage. Collectioneering presented over 400 artefacts that we borrowed from the city’s collections and then arranged in non-inferential, or primarily affective, juxtapositions in the manner of a post-medium cabinet of curiosities. Like the artists’ interventions situated at the sites themselves, Collectioneering engaged the neologism “museopathy”: our term for the peregrination of the “paths” that linked the collections of the city as well as the “pathic” or affective modalities of collection triggered by the
4 . The “pathy” in Museopathy could also be said to refer to the curative logic of homeopathy (rather than of pathology) in which “like treats like’’. Each artist installing an intervention to some degree mimicked aspects of museum display present at the site itself. Interestingly, the term “museopathy” has been taken up in a similar fashion by museum professionals working in conjunction with hospitals to facilitate patients’ well-being.
configurations of objects from disparate institutions.4 While all of the components of Museopathy pertained to the affective qualities of objects and spaces, each engaged affect quite differently. The interventions by artists into museums and heritage sites were immersive and involved installing works within highly charged contexts. Collectioneering, by contrast, reconfigured museum objects into ludic and compelling relationships intensified by their links to multiple sources, patinas and tales of provenance. Displaying the objects of Collectioneering in the white cube of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre had the effect of strengthening the aesthetic gaze upon non-art artefacts: the objects would be temporarily viewed as art before returning to the locations (and meanings) of their originating collections. By reconfiguring the ways in which objects could be posed in a city’s self-representation, Collectioneering proposed a meta-museological display within Museopathy’s overall exhibition context. Merging art and artefacts in mutual relationships, the project spanned disciplinary boundaries to posit uncustomary linkages between aesthetics, history, popular culture, science and art. These temporary configurations in turn generated discussion about the conventional meanings and practices of collecting, display and museal experience. Resulting from a two-year-long material trek through the vitrines and storerooms of a dozen
Kingston museums and historical sites,5 the titling of Collectioneering intentionally called to mind the activities of orienteering and mountaineering, pursuits that match physical endeavour with focus, patience, intuition and endurance. On a civic level, Collectioneering tracked how a community collects itself and constructs a historical, geographic and public identity; on a museological level, it proposed a dialectical display practice that posed the affect of patina against the discourses of provenance; on a curatorial level, it presented objects in heuristic constellations that invited viewers into present engagement, rather than into a museological past. Our curatorial concept expressly sought to focus the exhibition as a sequence of affectively charged moments that intensified the relations between agents, objects and museums.
The Artist as Curator edited by Celina Jeffery 204 pages, softcover Intellect, Bristol, UK / Chicago, USA, 2015 intellectbooks.com
5 . As newcomers to Kingston, we were indebted to the expertise of the curators and directors of the museums, especially their patient behind-thescenes tours, in-depth knowledge and endless delight in sharing their objects. top . Collectioneering,
installation view of The Good Samaritan, c.1665, oil on canvas, by Reyer Jacobsz van Blommendael (1628-1675), collection of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University; and stretcher, 1890s, canvas and wood, collection of the Museum of Health Care at Kingston, Bird Collection. Photo: Paul Litherland. cover . Collectioneering,
installation view of vitrine with confiscated inmate shivs, 1950s-1980s, collection of the Correctional Service of Canada Museum; executioner’s knife (Ashanti), c.1890, collection of the Royal Military College of Canada Museum; and surgical instruments (nineteenth-twentieth century), collection of the Museum of Health Care at Kingston. Photo: Paul Litherland. Excerpt from the book The Artist as Curator. © 2015 Intellect Ltd; all rights reserved. Used by permission.
right . Opening series #1, photographic essay of the inauguration of the Bar贸 Cruz Gallery, S茫o Paulo, Brazil, Jun. 2nd, 2004, from the book Media and Art: contemporary views, by Alexandre Dias Ramos.
. by April Lee
What type of art connoisseur would each archetypal zodiac sign be? Just as you can’t slot every person on this planet into one of twelve categories, simply because you’re one sign doesn’t mean you are necessarily that type of art aficionado. However, if each of the signs, as embodied by their commonly ascribed traits, were a particular kind of art connoisseur, the result just might look like this... ARIES . March 21 – April 19 This is the type of person who saunters in with a subtle confidence, appears to look at creations with a discerning eye, then impulsively does or says something that makes you realize their knowledge of aesthetics comes from Wikipedia. If anyone corrects them in a way that embarrasses them in any way, arrogant, defensive responses arise. Once this occurs, there is really nothing that can return the atmosphere to the comfortable status quo except to quickly move on. They will still be on guard, so even innocuous comments will receive a danger assessment. When they leave the gallery, they will never come back… At least for as long as it would take a reasonable person to forget them.
Gemini may think they know what they like, but honestly, anything goes. They could fall in love with some truly random piece because it induces a manic feeling, or go around making fun of everything on display. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to their art appreciation. They can talk a good game though and when in a good mood can convince artists that they are fans, only to roll their eyes when they turn around. If they have consistent criteria with which they judge art, it’s from a book. CANCER . June 21 – July 22 Deeply moody people, while they logically understand the need and importance of artistic expression, they tend to stick with what’s safe and are easier to offend than most, even though they think of themselves as liberal and accepting. If an artist is self-actualizing or speaking through the art, it is appreciated only when it aligns with their sensibilities. They value creativity in general — and sometimes even show creative potential — but they wouldn’t be able to tell an Ikea print from a Mapplethorpe. LEO . July 23 – August 22
TAURUS . April 20 – May 20 These people are the most likely to be secret collectors, if they are rich enough. They are like dragons with a deep appreciation for artistic merit, and as likely to hide away their acquisitions as they are to display them prominently. Whatever stirs their soul will enthrall them, but in the end, although a work may channel the loftiest of artistic expression, it is still a thing that can be possessed. While they deeply appreciate talent and high quality, their decision to procure will depend on how good an investment something is. Better have good delivery services: Tauruses like to “conserve” their energy.
Everything revolves around them. EVERYTHING. If it’s going to raise their status in any way, be it looking well-to-do, supporting their assertion that they think “outside the box”, or giving an impression of magnanimity, they’ll be all over it like a dirty shirt. If they say they are supporting the arts, they are gathering evidence of their patronage. If they claim to like something because it’s edgy and disturbing, they are trying to make up for the fact that they are devoid of substance and uninteresting. If they buy, though, they will showcase it prominently for all to see. VIRGO . August 23 – September 22
GEMINI . May 21 – June 20 While most people have a particular sense of style or taste that has developed throughout their lives,
Secretly hopelessly insecure, they will find a flaw in everything they see. The pieces they like, they will extol. With regard to pieces they dislike or about
which they have no opinion, they will use their nitpicking superpower and be able to provide a dissertation about how the piece could be better. If you express appreciation of one of these pieces, they are unable to just let the comment go. You will hear their opinion, and confirm that they have absolutely no expertise (they usually preface the conversation with that information) and just love to whine. LIBRA . September 23 – October 22 They sound extremely knowledgeable, and purport to have preferences — style, media, use of colour, whatever — but at the end of the night you will realize that they have maintained a socially safe wishy-washiness. They might like a particular artist, but if you like someone different, they will manage to validate your opinion even as they appeared to have carried on a witty, intellectual debate over artistic merits. It’s brilliant — they look as if they are truly accepting of all creative processes, when in fact, they want to agree with everyone to maintain social stature. SCORPIO . October 23 – November 21 These are the folks who actually like the weird stuff, not so much because they value the avant-garde so much as they like to see other people’s reaction. Kind of sadistic in a way, in the Criminal Minds kind of way. Whatever they do favour tends to touch upon something deeply rooted and emotional, good or bad. Staring down a painting is like looking into a mirror, one that reflects secret desires, intense memories, or stirs them in the nether regions. SAGITTARIUS . November 22 – December 21 If you have ever thought that blunt honesty about an artistic style was refreshing, you haven’t hung around these folks for long enough. Not only that, but they are world-class know-it-alls. Every now and again, they’ll offer some good insight and the benefit of their scholarly pursuits, but once the ball starts rolling, it’s like high
school history class. Thank goodness they tend to mingle; otherwise you’d be stuck playing Art Trivial Pursuit until closing. CAPRICORN . December 22 – January 19 They are the ones whose presence is wrapped up in an agenda. The art itself is secondary to the obligation they are creating in others by making the effort to get dolled up and show up. Perhaps it’s so they can be the one picking the movie next week, or to force you to one of their events. They will take a cursory glance and know whether or not they like what they see. Then they are plainly observing everyone and feeling somewhat superior. AQUARIUS . January 20 – February 18 They consider themselves visionaries, and hate thinking that they aren’t somehow trudging off the beaten path, away from all the sheep who like conservative, “safe” art. The weirder the better. Problem is, by not conforming for the sake of not conforming, they don’t really have an intelligible understanding of what the art actually means. Meanwhile, as you have your discourse about the merits of more “normal” art, they are busy labelling you an ignorant peasant who cannot appreciate innovation and trailblazing. PISCES . February 19 – March 20 These folks tend to be accepting of almost all styles and techniques. With their rose-coloured glasses, they are just happy to be in the presence of the fruits of creative labour. They can find something to like about every item — to the point that you don’t know if they are able to competently critique anything. When they connect with a piece, you can tell because their eyes almost glaze over and they’re on the way to LalaLand. Still, it is always nice to have one of them around because they are so validating.
By Grayson Perry
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