The Museum of Contemporary Art, as my colleague Christopher Knight reported over the weekend, appears to be facing a considerable gap in its exhibition schedule.
It turns out that the tumult of the Jeffrey Deitch years has led to an exhibition drought. Under Deitch's term, many
But as Knight notes in his story, this is an opportunity for MOCA to bust out its stellar permanent collection.
The short notice means curators likely won't have time to do deep and considered shows like "Conceptualism in California," the 2008 exhibition that examined the museum's holdings of work that pushed the boundaries of what art could be. But it does represent an opportunity for the museum to have fun with its collection. And by fun, I mean, well ... fun.
MOCA's permanent collection has nearly 7,000 objects and it'd be interesting to see them in some out-of-the-box configurations. Here are three ideas:
1. Artist choice shows: L.A. has a lot of artists. MOCA has a lot of art. Put the two together and you might get some interesting shows. In 2011, artists Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz organized a show of works from the collection of the L.A. County Museum of Art inspired by a residency in Watts. "Possible Worlds," as the show was called, brought together a polka-dot painting by Yayoi Kusama with a nearly 2,000-year-old pre-Columbian mask from Teotihuacan.
Likewise, in 2008, artist Vik Muniz organized "Rebus" at the
These shows often take art out of its hidebound theoretical themes — conceptualism, modernism, abstraction, art-by-people-who-get-naked-and-set-things-on-fire-ism — and provide us with fresh ways of looking. For MOCA, this could be a terrific method for presenting a permanent collection that doesn't get enough airtime.
2. Invite some guest curators. Done well, a skilled guest curator can provide a whole new way of thinking about a collection. Several years ago, when I was doing some reporting in advance of the first wave of
Which makes me wonder what kind of under-seen gems might be laying about in MOCA's collection. Solution? Bring on a smart guest curator like Jones to do some digging around the basement. I would love to see the results.
3. Get ridiculous. In the summer of 2011, Postmasters, a
For MOCA, this could serve as inspiration for all kinds of shows: a show hung entirely by color, paintings tied to movie-making, an all-lady extravaganza, pieces that are in some way about California, works inspired by food...
Is this outrageous? Probably. Totally silly? For sure.