Reading Week 9: The Discursive Museum



"Place of Reflection or Place of Sensation?" was fascinating. The author was spot-on about the shift in the types of things museums show and what it does for them. Cataloging museums offer a new place for displaced objects, and contemporary museums are places for which new things are specifically constructed. The Walker seems to be a mix of both. Plenty of stuff which has been previously deemed important or significant by the art world hangs on the walls, but plenty of projects and activities begin with The Walker as their setting.

Piggy backing on Jim a bit... My favorite part of the intro was "Our aim here is to return to art those essential qualities that are now generally accepted as inherent to the discourse. We should help art recover its openness, its processes, and its freedom to experiment - qualities which seem to have been lost in the contemporary culture industry." It think this attitude is seen in the projects, activities, and programs at the walker. There is an uncontrollable aspect to many of the programs. Directors/Artists can provide structure but within these structured events the details are fluid.

I found Place of Reflection or place of sensation quite interesting. I thought it laid out really well the history, purpose and problems that the museum had to face and are currently facing. I think there's a weird tension between the ideology of the White Cube; between seeing the museum as this pure, church like, environment where the outside world must to come in to contaminate the pureness of the art, and the museum serving as a place of assembly to its community. I liked the line where Belting writes that the museum should be open to everybody, and not controlled by banks and associations.

Since everybody is mentioning the Walker, I would like to write my initial observation of the Walker. Coming from LA, my two favorite museums were the MOCA and the Hammer Museum. The MOCA always felt very accessible to the public, they had free nights, students could see both museums for only 5 dollars, and the exhibitions were always great. The Hammer had free lectures every Thursday to the public. There I saw Jeff Wall, Alec Soth, Catherine Opie, John Baldessari, etc. Of course there is an specific group of people that attend these free lectures, just like there's a "type" of people that go to museums.

What I found amazing about the Walker when I first moved here, was how well it had incorporated to its community. The weekly free events, lectures, screenings makes the Walker not so much this inaccessible place where the public is a mere visitor. But the Community seems to be a big part of the Walker and the Walker seems to be a big part of the community.
I can compare the Walker to the Getty. The Getty is located in this really high part of LA, you have to take a train to take you to the museum. The architecture, and rooms always felt so grandiose, so unwelcoming. You can hear the echos of your shoes in every room as the guards watch your every move...The art showed there reflects this same environment.

I think this is an interesting time for Museums. As the digital age has already changed much in the way we live our lives, I agree with Belting that the three factors of people, place and things should be highly considered in the way museums are run today. I should also add to this list, interaction and accessibility. I also think that the aura of the Object like Benjamin wrote a while ago has not gone away. A picture of a Mark Rothko painting online is not a Mark Rothko painting and because of this people will continue to go to museums to have religious experiences with the art.

"What do people in museums do anyway? And what could they do?" seem relevant to our project. It goes on to talk about the activities in museums creating passivity. What would change this? How do we change the standard relationship without frightening people away. I know it is being done all the time, especially at the Walker, I am just trying to understand how and under what conditions are the most successful engagements are constructed.

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