A museum’s public programming schedule is perhaps its most fleeting offering. Almost as soon as you hear about it, it’s already gone. Lectures, symposia, and panel discussions come and go with marathon-like speed. In the Adult and Academic Programs area of the Education Department, we are often thinking six months ahead, which also means that current programs exist psychologically for us in the past, while past programs are deep in the background of ancient history. But it is important to always remember the remarkable individuals that came throughout the year to enliven the Museum with their perspectives and debates, sometimes making history.
2009 was an extraordinary year in that respect, with more than three dozen major panels or lectures that touched on a variety of subjects, from the legacy of the Bauhaus, as seen in this video of one of the many Bauhaus Labs, to video games.
It would take several posts to list all of these programs, but there are a few that broke the usual format that we would like to highlight. The Futurist one hundredth anniversary prompted a public reading of The Futurist Manifesto in MoMA’s lobby (organized by Laura Beiles), with contemporary poets reading the still youthful text. Poet Charles Bernstein’s enacting the Futurist harangue while wielding a hammer next to a Miró—provoking great trepidation in us—is a memorable image of that year, as you can see in the video below.
The Martin Kippenberger retrospective gave us the excuse to bring together some of his friends as well as younger artists to reminisce on his persona and consider his influence. In this lively discussion—moderated by Ann Temkin, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture—Jeff Koons, Friedrich Petzel, Jan Avgikos, and Rachel Harrison sat onstage in strange-looking chairs that commemorated the artist’s famous installation The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”.
Then in May 2009, a celebration of MoMA’s exhibition of selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection featured dozens of artists whose work recently entered our collection in a series of informal and dynamic events entitled 5 x 20 x 20—five artists showing twenty slides, each lasting twenty seconds).
We had so much fun with the event that we will be repeating it this summer. I was honored to interview Mexican artist Teresa Margolles shortly after the opening of her solo project for the Venice Biennial, in an event as unusual as it was complex, not only because of Teresa’s stream-of-consciousness conversation style, but also because of her work, which so eloquently reflects on death and violence.
Last but not least, the 2009 contemporary art forum, Transpedagogy: Contemporary Art and the Vehicles of Education, was a more ambitious undertaking, addressing the emerging interest amongst contemporary artists in pedagogy to study the different experiments in this area and develop a common critical language to understand these new practices. Here we developed a multi-system format of workshops, closed-door think-tank discussions, and open sessions. Claire Bishop, Grant Kester, Tania Bruguera, Qiu Zhijie, and many other prominent artists and scholars came together in a series of sessions that culminated in a transpedagogical reception on a Colombian party bus.
While these events are now behind us, fortunately a good amount of them can be relived in our ever-growing multimedia archive. And with this, we would love to hear from those of you who were able to join us at one or more public programs at MoMA last year. Do you recall any favorite event, discussion, turn of phrase, or comment? We would love to hear about it.