Today's Fast Five is inspired by a lunchtime conversation at work about professional exchanges and how they should definitely be more of a thing.
The selection process is very simple; to be valid as an exchange candidate the following boxes must be ticked: cool organisation □ that does cool things □ in a cool location □
With only five spots this is by no means a definitive list but is subject to my particular whims and fancies on this particular day. Basically, if anyone is listening – my bags are packed, I’m ready. I want to be in you:
1. The New Museum, Manhattan
I follow these guys on Instagram and at this moment in time they are at the top of my exchange wish list. They tick off the two big requirements - coolness and location. They have such an interesting exhibition programme and really seem to play with the boundaries of display and participation.
Their current show The Keeper examines the very idea of collection and preservation, the impulses that drive us (both personally and institutionally) to collect and preserve, and interdependent relationship between objects and their keepers/collectors/hoarders.
I was also particularly taken with the recent show A Pot for a Latch, a participatory sculpture by Pia Camil. Camil invites the public to participate in the on-going creation of her piece on designated days, during which visitors are encouraged to exchange their own unique items for others in the installation. The composition on the grid wall panels is thereby in flux and is repeatedly altered throughout the course of the exhibition."
2. The Mattress Factory, Pittsburg
I have a real thing for industrial buildings repurposed as cultural organisations. There always seems to be such an incongruous yet efficient relationship between form and function in these spaces. While I was working at Te Papa’s Tory Street facility (which used to be…..? someone help me out) I was always fascinated by the giant bathrooms, seemingly equipped to dozens of people – there was a certain kind of intrigue to the whole thing. Purpose-built buildings are one thing, but it seems fitting to house/display/interpret objects that have histories etc in buildings that have their own stories to tell.
And so The Mattress Factory sneaks in, even though it’s in Pittsburg. The Mattress Factory also sneaks in because I have a raging crush on site specific installation art and this space is dedicated to hosting and pushing the boundaries of this art form. It’s also one of those multifunctional spaces that has had a hand in revitalising a depressed, post-industrial area through its exhibition and education programme, so – kudos.
3. de Young Museum, San Fransisco
This museum is the only one on the list that I have actually visited before, and it ticks aaaallll the boxes. The de Young is one of those incredible, giant, blow your mind kind of American art museums that only exists in your dreams where fine art, decorative art, contemporary art, sculpture, textiles, fashion (pretty much everything) all exist in one architecturally amazing building, in an amazing park, opposite the incredible California Institute of Sciences (the one with the ground-breaking living roof that regulate the temperature in the building), in an incredible city. So…no brainer really.
4. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
The Mori art museum is in Tokyo which was the first major tick in its favour. Second tick is that it’s on the 53rd and 54th story of a skyscraper.
Mori is dedicated to showing the work of contemporary Asian artists which, although a obviously very loose term for a culturally diverse part of the world, I get immeasurably fizzed about.
5. Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia
This last one is an all box ticker too. This museum is dedicated to displaying and preserving the tangible and intangible memories of failed relationships. Founded by an ex-couple, the museum is truly participatory - it relies on donations of personal objects, archives, stories and memories of heartbreak. Initially without a permanent home, the collection went on a world tour, collecting new objects and stories along the way.
As a donor I imagine this would be akin to the cathartic ceremonial "purging of the ex" ceremony- the burning of letters, photographs, cutting up of clothes etc. Such an interesting, new spin on the role of the museum - truly participatory, and crowd-sourced.