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CATEGORY: VIEWPOINTS

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September 9, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
More Chaos, Please: Dutch Teen Programs at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Showroom MAMA
Blikopeners, Photo: Tomek Whitfield

Blikopeners, Photo: Tomek Whitfield

It is possible there is no cooler place to be an artsy young person than in the Netherlands. Were you curating art spaces in famous modern and contemporary art museums when you were 17? Or designing tours and educational programs at galleries? I sure wasn’t. But the teenagers with whom I met while on a professional development trip to the Netherlands are doing just that.

Robin's photo on the wall in the Blikopener Spot

Robin’s photo on the wall in the Blikopener Spot

Robin is a Blikopener at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. As he and I walked around the museum, Robin explained to me that the Blikopeners (“Eye Openers”) are a group of teens at the museum who give tours to the general public and who run the Blikopener Spot, a gallery and educational space on the lower level of the new museum building. Marlous van Gastel, who oversees the program for the education department, looks for a variety of teens: outspoken leaders, quiet creative types, knowledgeable art historians. After attending interactive training sessions, the Blikopeners give tours of the museum in pairs. Robin studies art history and knows a lot about the works of art, so he likes to partner with people who are good at asking fruitful questions and engaging audiences in close looking. These Blikopeners never get bored—they can develop new tours and pick new partners, and they work with the curatorial and conservation departments to choose artworks for the Blikopener Spot.

They also partner with other teen programs across the Netherlands. I traveled to Rotterdam to meet with some of the people with whom they’ve collaborated at Showroom MAMA, a contemporary art center by and for young artists. MAMA has about 30 Rookies, young people ages 16-26 who work on all aspects of the center’s operations. Recruited and trained by Margriet Brouwer, the Rookies design exhibitions, develop educational programs, assist visiting artists, raise funds, and more. Bram, a Rookie and current intern (meaning he’s time-based, not project-based), oversees the MAMA Rocks Around website, a resource for Rookies who give tours of the center’s exhibitions to school groups. The website is in Dutch, but he explained to me that it includes suggestions for interactive activities (e.g. If the person in this artwork had a Facebook page, what would it look like? What would be this character’s online persona?) and other tricks of the trade. The management and development of this website is handed off to a new intern every few months to ensure that many Rookies get a chance to spearhead such a project.

From left to right: Martine, myself, Margriet, Bram, Lara, Yaël

From left to right: Martine, myself, Margriet, Bram, Lara, Yaël

Showroom MAMA also runs a Rookies Junior program, the first iteration of which began as MAMA’s All Girls Street Art Collective, a group which has since evolved into an independent artists’ collective called ONSKRUID. They were commissioned to create a six-meter high wall for the Kunsthal Rotterdam exhibition The Fashion World of Jean-Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, and in July they led a workshop at the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Utrecht. I met with two of these nine young women, Lara and Yaël, who blew me away with their talent, confidence, and general awesomeness.

Artwork by Lara, Photo: Lotte Stekelenburg

Artwork by Lara, Photo: Lotte Stekelenburg

Lara first approached the Collective as a writer unfamiliar with street art but eager for a creative outlet. Under the leadership of Martine Poot, the Collective explored street art around the Netherlands, met with female street artists, and created art collectively and independently. Each member came up with her own signature style. Staying true to her roots as a writer, Lara bases her artwork around words. Her tagline of choice? “More chaos please.” The Collective’s artworks were shown last spring at Showroom MAMA—a remarkable exhibition due to the quality of the artworks and the fact that all the artists were younger than 18.

These teens at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Showroom MAMA and the supportive staff who run these programs are changing the face of the Dutch contemporary art scene for the better. Art should not sit passively by in stuffy institutions. It should inspire and empower. Art should be in the hands and minds of the interested, the creative, and the young. Lara said it well: more chaos, please.

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August 19, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
“Freedom Not to Know”: New Institutional Approaches at W139, Witte de With, and Van Abbemuseum

Installation view, On Fresh Soil, W139, Amsterdam, June 29-July 28, 2013

Installation view of On Fresh Soil, W139, Amsterdam, June 29–July 28, 2013

Open-endedness, self-reflexivity, discursiveness—together, these characteristics define one strain of thinking about arts institutions and the features that make them relevant to society. Read more

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July 29, 2013  |  Fluxus, Intern Chronicles
Paper Planes: A Flight through Fluxus with Benjamin Patterson
Benjamin Patterson. Audience members participating in Paper Piece (1960), performed during Fluxus Festival/Theatre Compositions/Street Compositions/Exhibits/Electronic Music, Hypokriterion Theater, Amsterdam, June 23, 1963. Original Photographer: Oscar van Alphen. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift. Photo: Peter Butler.

Benjamin Patterson. Audience members participating in Paper Piece (1960), performed during Fluxus Festival/Theatre Compositions/Street Compositions/Exhibits/Electronic Music, Hypokriterion Theater, Amsterdam, June 23, 1963. Gelatin silver print, 6 15/16 x 9 1/2″ (17.7 x 24.1 cm). Photographer: Oscar van Alphen. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift. Photo: Peter Butler

As the 12-Month Fluxus Collection Intern in the Department of Drawings and Prints, I received a research grant to travel to Germany and survey a number of Fluxus-related exhibitions, some of which celebrated the movement’s 50th anniversary, as well as the 80th birthday of Fluxus artist Yoko Ono. Read more

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July 15, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
A Community Affair: Exploring Contemporary Art in Chicago

When I set out for a week in Chicago I thought I would be able to leave with a comprehensive, fully formed picture of the city’s contemporary art scene. Instead, I found myself exploring only the tip of a very large iceberg. Read more

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July 1, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
The Sharjah Biennial in Context
Children playing in Shiro Takatani’s installation composition, in Sharjah’s Heritage Area. 2013. Fog machine (water, nozzle, pump) and motorized mirror. Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 11, Re:emerge: Towards a New Cultural Cartography, March 13– May 13, 2013. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation

Children playing in Shiro Takatani’s installation composition, in Sharjah’s Heritage Area. 2013. Fog machine (water, nozzle, pump) and motorized mirror. Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 11, Re:emerge: Towards a New Cultural Cartography, March 13–May 13, 2013. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation.

In 1972, the year that Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi became the ruler Emir of Sharjah, oil was struck 50 miles off the emirate’s shore. Soon, its capitol city was producing 35,000 barrels each day. Read more

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June 17, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
“We Are the Museum”: From the Kochi-Muziris Biennale to Mumbai
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The 2012 Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Having never visited a biennial—a fancy name for a recurring exhibition that explores the state of contemporary art—I had always been curious about this art-world phenomenon that has populated almost every nook and cranny of the globe Read more

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June 3, 2013  |  Intern Chronicles
Guns and Design
Claes Oldenburg. Empire (Papa) Ray Gun. 1959. Vija Celmins. Gun with Hand #1. 1964.

From left: Claes Oldenburg. Empire (Papa) Ray Gun. 1959. Casein on papier-mâché over wire. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 1959 Claes Oldenburg. Photo: MoMA Imaging Services; Vija Celmins. Gun with Hand #1. 1964. Oil on canvas. Gift of Edward R. Broida in honor of John Elderfield. © 2013 Vija Celmins

If you visit Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun Wing, currently on display in MoMA’s Marron Atrium, you can see his collection of toy guns, metal gun-like constructions, and gun-evoking pieces of detritus, all arrayed like exotic butterflies in a naturalist’s cabinet of wonder. Read more

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MoMA Learning Community Spotlight: Phaedra Mastrocola at Berkeley Carroll Lower School, Brooklyn
Visual Arts teacher Phaedra Mastrocola works with 2nd and 4th graders at Berkeley Carroll Lower School, Brooklyn

Visual Arts teacher Phaedra Mastrocola works with second- and fourth-graders at Berkeley Carroll Lower School, Brooklyn

One driving metaphor behind MoMA Learning—the museum’s digital hub for educational resources on modern and contemporary art—was that of a “tool box” or “kit”—an assemblage of parts that could be used, shared, and modified for a variety of learning environments and styles. Read more

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November 8, 2012  |  Family & Kids, Visitor Viewpoint
MoMA Studio: Common Senses Welcomes Families After Hurricane Sandy

Visitors to MoMA Studio: Common Senses in the days after Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Jackie Armstrong

When I received notice that MoMA would be reopening to the public and its employees on Wednesday, October 31, after being closed for two days due to Hurricane Sandy, I have to admit that I wondered if it was too soon. Read more

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July 9, 2012  |  Intern Chronicles
In Search of Lost Art: Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbau

Picture with Light Center by Kurt Schwitters, 1919

Kurt Schwitters. Picture with Light Center. 1919. Cut-and-pasted colored paper and printed paper, watercolor, oil, and pencil on board. Purchase. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

It was a gray, humid day in Hannover, Germany, and I was on a mission: to experience the Merzbau, a room-sized, living sculptural construction by artist Kurt Schwitters. But how do you experience something that doesn’t exist? Read more