The Brooklyn Rail commissioned the right artist to do their cover feature on the questionable curating practices of New Museum. William Powhida, an artist known for donning fictional personas in order to critique the art world, this time played an artist he imagined would be in collector and New Museum trustee Dakis Joannou’s collection to put together the sprawling narrative. Of course, it’s unlikely anyone but Reena Spaulings activist Merlin Carpenter would feel comfortable publicly criticizing the show were they in it, but the criticism is clear nonetheless. The New Museum should not be showing the collection of a trustee member, nor is their mandate to showcase emerging art being filled. Art world figures such as James Wagner, Gavin Brown, Lisa Phillips, Marcia Tucker, and many others (including myself) are featured prominently in the cartoon.
I spoke to Powhida about the ongoing debate Friday afternoon, noting the spaces they relagate to emerging artists: The icky glass-walled space behind the cafeteria, the alcove in the stairway, and their education department. If the New Museum really wanted to dedicate some space to emerging artists, they’d give Rhizome some physical space every once and a while, switch up the programming so emerging artists receive floors to themselves (I’m sorry, but blockbuster group shows like Younger Than Jesus can’t be the only venue for the new), and promote their talks a little more. I don’t mind seeing Elizabeth Peyton at the Museum, but I’d at least like to see an attempt to balance out the programming a little for the artists who really need the exposure.
Related: Countless posts by James Wagner.