Future as meta. Past, presence and future in the work of the Museum of American Art, Berlin

SESSION B: Historias divergentes
Day 1. Thursday, 27th October.
18:00 – 20:30
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

The Museum of American Art is a highly elusive institution that traces the relation between European modernism and the post-war invasion of American art on Europe. Assuming the position of meta-museum, MoAA remembers, re-enacts and reshapes some of the well-recognized phenomena, freely disturbing the conventional timeline.

This presentation aims to examine two shows and one lecture performance correlated to the Museum of American Art that have originated (or will originate) in the future. All of them can be regarded as uncategorized, escaping from the traditional classification. The show “Les fleurs américaines” (2012) at the FRAC Île-de-France included a reiteration of “Cubism and Abstract Art” (1936). By raising the question “What if modern art, as the idea of Alfred Barr Jr., would have been invented in France 100 years later?”, the exhibition created a space for divergent art histories and speculations.

The other time, with “Seth Siegelaub: Exhibitions, 2069” (2011), MoAA again took us to the future through the past, ironically provoking a situation, in which one show is only a herald of something that would happen in 58 years. In the same spirit one can discuss the lecture of Walter Benjamin at the Marxist Center in Ljubljana (1986). Then, the theoretician analysed the late paintings of Piet Mondrian (from 1963 to 1996). Probably after the first doubt, asking how would it has ever been possible, the other problem would eventually emerge: does it even matter?

The other Benjamin, strongly affiliated to MoAA, and the work of the Museum itself are consistently checking to what extent do we want to believe in the sincerity of story-makers: art historians, curators, and museums. Opening for the possibility of diffractive narrations, MoAA derives equally from the past and the future, entering the meta-level: evoking numerous “what ifs” and questioning the status of history, memory, and knowledge.

Martyna Dziekan
Jagiellonian University, Kraków / Humboldt University of Berlin

Martyna Dziekan (1990) studied art history at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and the Humboldt University of Berlin, specializing in history of curatorial practices and theory of exhibitions (master thesis: “Resurrection, re-enactment, recurrence. When Attitudes Become Form. Bern 1969/Venice 2013”). As an assistant of the Technical Assistant of the Museum of American Art, Berlin, particularly interested in issues of meta-curating, exhibitions on exhibitions, working with exhibitions’ histories and museum practices of the past.

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