The Boston art media are getting into a tiff, arguing if the newly redesigned ICA Boston is irrelevant-on-arrival. The Diller Scofidio+Renfro-designed home has actually heralded a new high point for a museum that is becoming one of the Northeast’s most dynamic, interesting contemporary art institutions.
The similarities between contemporary art and taxidermy are more numerous and more humorous than I realized, and thanks to a slightly too smart, vaguely discomforting show called Whitetail Deer, A to Z by Rebecca Lieberman at Anthony Greaney Gallery in Boston this similarity has been brought to my attention in great depth and detail.
I made a recent realization: discussing complex gender issues leaves me speechless. I realized that after about the 14th time I tried and failed to begin this article. This new manifestation of my ignorance comes courtesy of the MIT List Visual Arts Center’s exhibition entitled Virtuoso Illusion: Cross-Dressing and the New Media Avant-Garde. The exhibit covered themes of alternative identity, gender roles, and sexuality. I was strongly drawn to two pieces in particular, one of which was Michelle Handelman’s video “Dorian” (2009), the other was Kalup Linzy’s “Conversations wit de Churen III: Da Young & Da Mess” (2005).
The city of Boston is not generally known for its hopping art scene. Although it is home to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (which is the only publicly funded art university in the country), the patrician Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the picturesque Institute for Contemporary Arts the city cannot pretend to boast an art market that even holds a candle to that of New York, LA or Miami. A recent article by Paper Monument’s founding editor Dushko Petrovich in the Boston Globe proposes that the Boston art scene can bring something entirely different to the table than those acquisition driven hubs.
Boston artists understand that the city’s contemporary art community lacks punch. After all, they’re the ones in the middle of it, surrounded on all sides by curators, galleries and critics. As artists have responded to the problems set out in my series on the Boston contemporary art scene, their comments point towards a working answer for one question: how could the Boston art community be made better for the city’s artists?
Is it possible for an entire city to have an inferiority complex over its own art and artists? At times it certainly seems like Boston does. Between ignoring traveling retrospectives of local artists, devoting gallery space to art world circuit card-holders, and hemorrhaging curators, this city’s scene sometimes looks a lot like a branch office of New York: understaffed and passing on its best to the mothership.
In my previous article on Hyperallergic, I discussed Greg Cook’s view that Boston’s contemporary art scene lacks ambition and a drive to push itself further. I believe that what we need to overcome in this city is not just this inferiority complex but a specific Boston identity.
Greg Cook is proud to be a yokel. As an art critic for The Boston Phoenix weekly, an independent blogger and artist, Greg is a staunch fan and supporter of the Boston contemporary art community. What bugs him about this city’s art scene is that he might have a better opinion of the scene than it does of itself. In a series of blog posts on his New England Journal for Aesthetic Research, Greg has outlined a Yokelist manifesto for a Boston art community with enough confidence to drive itself to greater heights, art world capital or not.