press release

The history of art has essentially been constituted through the analysis of singular works of art, yet there is another worthwhile way of writing the history of art based on the analysis of exhibitions. The discourse on contemporary art must be kept up to date mainly through exhibitions, which do not serve as presentation spaces alone, but also as instruments for projecting ideas about artistic productions and to transform its reception. Exhibitions enable the pieces to establish relations, not only with the viewer, but also with other pieces and with other conceptions of what art can be. As it is neither pure discourse, nor mere context, but perception and knowledge in action, the exhibition is, in short, a perceptive device in itself, a seeing machine and a learning act.

From this point of view we believe it is possible and necessary to offer a rereading of the history of contemporary art through the analysis of its presentation devices. The MACBA thus embraces the recent attempts to secure the status of the exhibition as a cultural object and trace its genealogy, an endeavour that involves the history and criticism of art, as well as the architecture (exhibitions are, ultimately, public spaces), the psychology of perception and, of course, the voices of curators and artists.

The course proposes a first overview of some of the seminal exhibitions held during the second half of the 20th century, from the triumph of pop to the emergence of conceptual art. This overview is done alongside the artists and curators who conceived them or, when this is not possible, with the critics who have analysed them. A detailed assessment of these exhibition models demonstrates that the ideology of the white cube-the presumably neutral exhibition space, venue of the pure visuality theorised by Brian O'Doherty -is to a large extent an incomplete project, and that the history of the modern art exhibition paradigm could also be the history of its transgressions.

Course on Contemporary Art and Culture
History of Exhibitions. Beyond the Ideology of the White Cube

Teilnehmer: James Lingwood, Magnus af Petersens, Germano Celant, Ana Longoni, Ines Katzenstein, Yves Aupetitallot, Jose Diaz Cuyas, Patrick Ireland