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Fallout Continues at MOCA

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 16, 2013

Artists Resign from the Board

A gaping hole has been left on the MOCA Board now that all member artists have stepped down. The move continues in a wave of debate over the firing of Chief Curator Paul Schimmel by Director Jeffrey Deitch lat last month. As we weigh the news it is apparent that there were differing opinions on the future direction of the museum and how to get there. In a letter of resignation from the Board artists Barbara Kruger and Catherine Opie raise points from the artist's standpoint that perhaps best highlight reasons or at least grounds for friction between different leading voices at MOCA.

The artists point to the struggle for survival of our arts institutions saying that rather than the debate being rooted in a question of "good actors and bad" this is about a "crisis in cultural funding." The questions raised by this West Coast Cultural Crisis must ripple through the international waters of the museum world. There is a reality to the dilemma that exploded with such drama in LA, and we can only imagine that MOCA is not the only institution to face these struggles. The letter goes onto ask about "the role of museums in a culture where visual art is marginalized except for the buzz around secondary market sales . . . the not so subtle recalibration of the meaning of ""philanthropy,"' and . . . the morphing of the so-called "art world" into the only speculative bubble still left floating." What will save our cultural institutions? We must all wonder if this was the root of the rif between Schimmel and Deitch. We can see the field playing out between decisions that balance on critical -vs- accessible, attendee enrichment -vs- attendance numbers, visual indulgence -vs- popular gathering. We are left to balance and answer for ourselves where these problems begin and end, and if the real root of the trouble is a lack of appreciation not performance of art. Do we as a society need to remember that the intrinsic value of art is cultural, social, and political, not economic? Art is capsule of and mirror on our time and therefore future relic; should this cause us to invest in our own cultural capital for the sake of future generations? It is the role of the Museums, yes, but certainly the whole of us to celebrate our cultural heritage and demand protection for the institutions that provide it platform.

Full copy of the Kruger/Opie letter in the LA Times

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