Where to L.A? A Brief Inquiry Into Our Museums’ Community – Bill Kelley Jr.

Bill Kelley Jr., the curator in residence at 18th Street Arts Center, discusses the future of art institutions in Los Angeles. In the below excerpts from a recent KCET article, Kelley Jr. speaks up about the current conversations surrounding MOCA and what these discussions neglect to address.

“Personally, the discussion I’ve had over the past few weeks about the ‘responsibilities’ that local museums have to our community is mind-blowing given the fact that the art world has always been reticent to talk about communities or take museums to task for anything.”

“The nature of curatorial work is quite complex and can’t be attended to properly in this forum. But the conversation of what comprises this kind of artistic practice (and let’s face it, in many ways curation is an artistic practice) is particularly relevant given the protests and debates that have resulted from the recent firing of MOCA’s head curator – debates centered on the role and responsibility of museums. This is a critical moment in the LA art world, but let’s not pretend that things were fine a few months ago.”

“The question about how major LA art institutions can support a variety of local art practices – or if they even want to – is difficult to fathom given the long-standing disconnect LA museums have historically had with their constituency. To give you an example, until the very recent Pacific Standard Time exhibitions of 2011, the entire history of local Latino solo shows curated by Los Angeles museums could be counted on three fingers. If that number doesn’t floor you, consider that the Queens Museum under the directorship of Tom Finkelpearl, currently has as many community organizers on staff as curators and has been dedicated to dealing with the issues of immigration, memory and social justice programming directed unambiguously to the large immigrant community that makes up Queens and Corona Plaza. When was the last time we heard of a major LA art institution (working in a city where more than half of its inhabitants speak Spanish) doing anything remotely similar?”

SOURCE: Bill Kelley Jr., “Where to LA? A Brief Inquiry Into Our Museums’ Community,” KCET.org (August 17, 2012). To continue reading click link below: