The theme of CIMAM’s 2014 Annual Confrence centered on the intersections and tensions of the public and private interests in managing museum collections. The most important discussion, to my mind, is the one that happened during the last day when the Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Bernard Blistène and the collector Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas were giving talks and later participated in the panel discussion. While Mr. Blistène expressed strongly his opinion on the impossibility of the deaccession of the artworks –it would mean the rupture in representing of the history of taste– the art collector voiced a concern about museums connections with collectors and dealers.
While the Head of Collections at Tate made a comment that there is no way museums can work without collectors now and the only way to use this situation is to educate collectors, Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas had proposed strict rules regarding the information security and sharing to ensure transparency. However, these same rules would inevitably mean losing part of the private funding.
No speaker in CIMAM 2014 has touched the theme of the trends of the contemporary art and how the paradigm of the “new” operates in the private collections that are increasingly presenting their programs as public institutions. What defines what is the “new” art and how young the art needs to be in order to be collected as “new”. In an article written in 1992 by Boris Groys, he says that “the notion of historical representation has never been called into question –not even by quite recent post-modern writing which, in its turn, sets out to be historically new, truly contemporary and up-to-date”.
What is the role of the collector that creates his or her own museums in this decade? If collecting is a process that a collector engages in order to be able to research, acquire and accumulate objects1 presenting it publicly then, at the same time, it involves constructing their public image/brand. What is the nature of defining the “new” within these collections-not-yet-museums?
What are the walls of the collections made of that the “new” artists are trying to break if at all?
1 Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993.