Art, Race, Curatorship

From NPR’s Code Switch blog comes a fantastic piece about the ethics and aesthetics of curating race- or ethnicity- or gender-centric art shows.

So is there such a thing as “Latino art” or “Asian art” or “African-American art”? Are they “racial hang-ups,” as African-American artist Raymond Saunders put it in his 1967 essay “Black is a color”? Or are they necessary categories that force white-run museums, publishers and concert halls to recognize artists of color?

Included in the discussion is the philosopher / conceptual artist Adrian Piper:

But that brings up a larger issue: Are museums doing an artist a favor or a disservice when they group shows together around ethnicity or gender rather than aesthetics? Adrian Piper believes it’s a disservice. She’s a conceptual artist whose work is in the collections of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She recently demanded that a film of hers be removed from a show of black performance art. Piper preferred not to be interviewed, but she sent NPR the email she sent to the show’s curator. In it she wrote that “as a matter of principle,” she does not allow her work to be exhibited in “all-black shows,” because she believes these shows “perpetuate the segregation of African-American artists from the mainstream contemporary art world.”

(See also her announcement on retiring from being black.)

A truly thought-provoking discussion!