Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jean de Loisy Q&A at Canadian Art

Catching up now with some posts on recent articles and such.

 I have to say that with some Q&As I have done, I have put a lot of work into editing and condensing. When I have less time to edit and condense, the interviews end up long and rangy, which works for some readers and not for others.

In any case, here is a Q&A from a little while ago, connected to a lecture that my employer, the Canadian Art Foundation, arranged in Toronto. It is more of the long and rangy type, even though it is, of course, edited.

It is with Palais de Tokyo president Jean de Loisy. An excerpt:  

Leah Sandals: You have worked in art institutions of various kinds since 1983. What is the most important job of an art museum or art institution, do you think? 

Jean de Loisy: The most important job is to escape from the normal paths and to try to understand that the history of art is just one of the ways possible to look at art; outside of that, there are a lot of other things to discover. It’s to always try to be unconventional, to refuse the borders, to try to overpass all the limits of what art “should” be. 

Most of the time, we have the idea that the evolution of art is going in one linear direction. In fact, what we have to take care of is all the art that goes in another direction—art that is far more interesting. 

 After all, most of the art that we are most interested in now was originally considered as being outside of art. When you look at Robert Filliou, first you ask, Is it art or not? When you look at Marcel Duchamp, you ask the same thing: Is it art or not? And so on to today’s most important artists. Art happens outside of the limits of what art is. 

So that is the first big job for art institutions. 

The second big job is that we have to preserve the direct relation between the public and the art. By this I mean that to try to transmit knowledge of an artwork to the public before they actually encounter it is a limit—it’s not an aperture. 

We have to organize the information about an artwork or artist so that when the public visits your museum they can still be surprised and astonished, and so there can still be that kind of “wow” effect. Whether that effect comes from understanding the complexities of the world anew or whether it comes from a physical sensation of the work, that effect is still needed. 

I note this because there is a kind of increasing mediation in art museums—this is very good, but only if it doesn’t prevent people from having their own words or experiences about the art. 

I think it’s very important to have the possibility of accompaniment and information that goes with the art, but it should never come before the visitor’s actual relation to the art—it should always come after. This balance between mediation of artworks and experience of artworks is probably one of the most complex things to develop and to organize in exhibitions.

You can read on for the rest at Canadian Art.

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