A museum of contemporary art?

In the context of the “cultural bubble” we are experimenting in Spain, with the multiplication of infrastructures which no-one knows why or how they were financed, the museums of contemporary art occupy a very out-standing position. There are many; they usually are small; some of them are placed in magnificent, sparkling, but empty buildings; and in majority they do not have clear clues on their future, once the construction’ a euphoria and pleasure of inaugurating are over. The champagne is losing the foam, has warmed up of being hold too long in the hand, and the bubbles are disappearing: the contagious happiness is decreasing.

With or without bubble, it would be interesting to question if putting together the words “museum” and “contemporary art” is a contradiction in itself, isn’t there a contradiction between the two concepts?

The art of the moment, the contemporary art, is based on the confrontation with the originality, and we must admit that all that what is contemporary is not necessarily original. There are lots of repetitions and adjustment, rarely break or innovation. Goya or Picasso were original, but one cannot say that many other artists were, or currently are … Some young artists are considered to be original regarding their creation, but indeed they are not: and this, because of a lack of basic knowledge, because if they had studied or valued better the work of their predecessors, they would assess what their own added value is, or to admit it, when it’s not the case. Voluntary ignorance or, simply, lack of confrontation, intellectual laziness, makes they are considered to be original when they are not.

In this line, the precarious value of the contemporary art must be stated, simply by matter of lack of historical perspective. In addition, it is in some cases a very considerable “big show”, a show that is supported by some mass media and for some critics of art, who are requested to amplify the spectacle. With an added problem: in some cases, the marketing is made, sometimes only through the record prices, and through show-off and sparkling events. And here yet it would be necessary to point out the real complicity among artists – gallerists- auctions houses- medias-critics of art – museums-big collectors, who organize a kind of vicious circle to feed the prices and the markets. Another bubble.

As for art, also, there is a phenomenon of speculation, of artificial booming of prices, of complicity between public and private interests, of manipulations … these concepts sound familiar in other areas of activity. Confronted with this situation, what is a valid model of museums for contemporary art? Rather than the model in which public or private collectors may be trapped loosing the money because of uncertainty about hypothetical values in the future. It becomes necessary to speak about centers of contemporary art dedicated to the presenting works living artists. What shall we do, in 20 years’ time, with some pieces, installations, etc., that will prove not to be original and that already will no more be contemporary? How will taxpayer’s money be spent, by whom, what for? Should infrastructures be subsidized, for the sake of remaining open? Or shouldn’t we promote the real market of the artists? Will a museum of contemporary art be a kind of permanent dance? Does not the concept of museum imply the compliance to a certain canon polished by the passage of time and the tune-up of the perceptions? And shouldn’t we, at least, dedicate some time to think about this?

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