This week the Guggenheim Museum announced that it would launch a new program of exhibitions and curator residencies aimed at expanding the geography within the collection.
The Guggenheim UBS Map Global Art Initiative takes a radically different approach to the Guggenheim’s previous policy of sending its museums as envoys into uncharted territories. Instead, curators from underrepresented areas (as determined by… ?) will spend two-year residencies in New York, collaborating with Guggenheim staff to identify and acquire works from their given area. The curators will also assemble survey exhibitions which will make the rounds through three of the Guggenheim museums each.
In an interview with the New York Times‘ Carol Vogel, Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong explains, “We are hoping to challenge our Western-centric view of art history. Our global aspiration is to become familiar with these places, but that calls for people power and a sense of adventure. We certainly have the latter.” The curatorial statement elaborates:
The Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative evolved out of an intense institutional self-analysis in which we asked ourselves what it meant to be a global museum today. The museum recognized that because of unprecedented mobility, the expansive reach of cable and satellite television, and the interactive nature of today’s primary medium, the Internet, a new understanding of world culture has emerged that is transnational and simultaneous—sometimes even instantaneous: one can experience the immediacy of current events and cultural expressions in a constant stream of information. Ours is a networked society in which separate cultures overlap and commingle in provocative and meaningful ways, and the impulse toward homogenization has been eclipsed by connected and conjoined localities. We asked ourselves, “How can the Guggenheim, with its own early history steeped in European Modernism, become meaningfully transnational? How can we recalibrate what we do—from collecting to exhibition making to educational programming—so that it reflects the multiplicity of cultural practices and their histories around the globe?”
The program will inaugurate with a focus on South and Southeast Asia. The first curator will be June Yap, who curated the Singapore Pavilion for the 2011 Venice Biennale. Assisting Yap will be the Advisory Committee, which includes: Patrick Flores, Professor in the Department of Art Studies, University of the Philippines; Kwok Kian Chow, Senior Advisor to the Board and CEO, National Art Gallery, Singapore; Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Sandhini Poddar, Associate Curator, Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Kavita Singh, Associate Professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.