Thursday, April 26, 2012
The “supplement”. Draft for a performance.
-Javier de Frutos
In the twentieth century the modern museum has turned itself into one of the most poignant social paradoxes; public institutions alienated from a clear social mission, constantly playing out a balancing act between public and private funding. They’ve become institutions that have looked for too much time for a safe haven inside their own white walls, their own group of investors and donors (which gain profit from this relation through federally implemented tax deductions) serving as the primary interests to appease when taking into consideration the design of programs, the acquisition of collections, and the art historical frame to which the museums and curators abide. This has created a system of institutionalized art practice that is turning a blind eye to the social responsibilities that said institutions have with their communities.What can museums offer us besides showing artworks in tightly designed white cubes? As Habernas states, the challenge lies in the re-embracement of particular “supplements” such as education, forums for public dialogues, and addressing in an active manner issues pertinent to communities. For Habermas the challenge of the twentieth century is to reclaim the promise of the public sphere for a genuine democratic debate.
Jorge Rivalta tries to re-define the “public sphere” in the institutional discourse by pointing out the importance of the museums in the creation of spaces for criticism, freedom of expression, play and experimentation. Nancy Fraser contributes to Haberma’s ideal system with a model of post-bourgeois audience in her book “Rethinking the Public Sphere”. Fraser thinks this sphere of critical debate ,in our case, the museum, should embrace the public without any social or economic discrimination; museums not just for an elitist group of people conscious of art’s neologistic discourse (and with a direct interests in the market), but also for a variety of people in the public sphere that are able to create substantial debates that bring into light problems and preoccupations which affect them and their communities. She also claims for a fair space in which debate can take place and allow for the creation of new dynamics, and relations, between the different sectors in the social strata.
Looking through different museum philosophies, it is difficult to see the differences between their practices, but if we are able to understand how a variety of museums are supported we could easily understand how these 'supplements' work in their structures. Considering three different models (EEUU, UK, Europe) we will exemplify three different perspectives about the role of the institution and the creation of these 'supplements', or critical areas, in their relation with the public and their supporters.
The first example is the American Museum, based on consumerism, it gives importance to their donors, private collectors, or company-firms, which support almost 75% of the funding. The supplement for these Museums is usually a kind of an extra gift they share with the community. They are completely independent from the state; just 10 to 12% of their funding comes from public support, and 15% comes from ticket sales, which then further alienates it from the community. Because public participation is not required, there is the risk that it could lose the urgency to create any kind of significant supplement. The English Museum is the most populist, 60% of its support coming from private funds; almost the rest being supplemented by the state. Their idea of the “public” is based on the electorate: more people and more consumers means more public. The risk with this model is that the discourse could become superficial and banal. The European Museum, for the most part,supported by the state. They're focused on the creation of a critical sphere of discussion for the community. So as not to lose its critical spirit many of its educational programs are addressed to an educated elite able to keep up with its discourse.This model runs the risk of turning overtly elitist, leaving out the larger part of the community, creating the situation of a lot of money being spent by citizens who will never participate since its mostly made directed to educated scholars.
02. The idea.
With this in mind I have developed the performance “The Supplement”, based on the idea of the “hot dog serving” as an analogy for the contemporary museum system. This supplement will involve placing a hot dog vendor outside of a Museum, in the street, for a month. The hot dog cart represents the “museum” as a space for critical debate, the vendor will be identified as “the curator,” the person in charge of cooking a discourse as “culture” for the “public”, and the hot dog means the processed art . This performance is a metaphor about how the art is cooked by cultural institutional policies. In a smaller scale we will play with other smaller, but significant, details: the package of the hot dog, (the culture industry) as a framework that confines the bun (the museum) as the shelter that holds in place the meat (the culture/art) with all its condiments, representative of different nationalities (the celebration of identity), and the extra, what we call the “supplement” , as in their commitment with comunities. My idea is to exemplify, through this project, the role of ‘the supplement’ in these three type of museum systems. Using different prices for the bun, the meat, the “extra”, we'll represent these three different ideal Museum policies. In this arena, the public will be designing their ideal museum by choosing the bun, the meat, the “extra” ; different features from these three models. The opportunity the public will have to decide and think what should be the “supplement” Museums should give to their extended public as a further expansion that raises questions about the role of art in contemporary society and the institutional policies that delineate its practice. The project, will reach a wider audiences than the Museum's one, and with it a broader perspective and opinionated feedback. The unprecedented existence of this level of public interaction allows us the possibility of reconstructing an open critical discourse where the expansive and open nature of the project guarantees the existence of a truly democratic public discussion about the nature of the modern museum, as exemplified by a hot dog.
Hot dog cart: 2000$
Hot dog vendor: 2000$
Meat, buns, condiments.. 1500$
Design & Packaging: 2000$
*The first day a real Curator will open the performance performing for 30 minutes as hot dog vendor .
04. The installation of the performance.
The performance will be documented and become an installation that will be bought through live feed and create a conversation with the inside of the Museum. This piece will consist in an installation in which we will use the the hot dog cart, the feedback from the public, and the video installation.