Our guest editor Donatien Grau asked 54 contributors to invent a new museum:
The Island (2016), text and photographs.
For decades, Azzedine Alaïa ceaselessly broke new grounds in terms of couture. In 2004, he opened the Galerie, his own free, nonprofit exhibition space in the centre of Paris, featuring all fields of contemporary creativity from his unique community. This intimate model was conceived for this first synthetic presentation.
The Museum of Encounters (2017), drawings on paper.
Mathias Augustyniak is a visual artist and designer. The co-founder of M/M (Paris) with Michael Amzalag, he has collaborated in that capacity with some of the world’s most prominent voices in music, design, literature, the visual arts and fashion. Aside from his era-defining work as part of M/M (Paris), he has continued his own artistic practice of drawing, and has maintained a dialogue with the poetic world. His drawings were presented for the first time at Air de Paris in 2017.
museums of the south (2015), text.
Manuel J. Borja-Villel is the director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. He previously served as the founding director of the Fundacío Antoni Tàpies and as director of MACBA, in Barcelona. In his positions, he has produced what is considered some of the most argumentative institutional programmes of his time, looking into the many sides of history and art history.
A Museum of Windows (2015), drawings.
Pablo Bronstein’s work has contributed to shifting the relation art entertains to time today: bringing elements from the past – 18th century iconography, remarkable skills as a draughtsman – into the present, he redefines them, and induces us to exert doubt both on our notion of the past – a past that might not be as past as it may seem – and of a present that is more ambiguous and multiple than we might have considered. His interests in performance and architecture share that approach of shifting the views on what remains and what changes.
Once I Walked in a Museum… (2016), text.
Francesco Clemente is a painter, traveller, and a spiritual soul. Beginning his work as a conceptual photographer, he turned to painting and engaged in shaping it as a quintessential metaphysical form, where faces, real and potential, colours and senses meet. Spending most of his time between New York and India, he lives in mythologies and poetry. He has also kept, throughout the years, an ongoing secret writing practice.
My Ideal Museum (2015), text and photographs.
An esteemed connoisseur, Sir Timothy Clifford began his career as a curator at the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Between 1978 and 1984, as director of the Manchester City Art Galleries, and between 1984 and 2006, as director of the National Gallery of Scotland, he put together the most provocative – and natural – displays, aiming to regive objects the aura they once had, placing them in carefully reconstructed settings with the sense of time.
Stores as the Contemporary Form of Museums (2016), text.
Emanuele Coccia began his work as a scholar of medieval paleography – he co-edited, alongside Giorgio Agamben, a book on angels in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and has devoted a large part of his work to the concept of ‘sensible life’ (the title of his book published by Fordham University Press). A free cosmological thinker of, in, and on the world, his most recent book was about plants, and he is working on a new one engaging with 10 Corso Como, the first concept destination, as a philosophical object.
The Museum of Small German Hotels (2016), text.
Joshua Cohen, a fiction and non-fiction writer, has made his mark as the teller of contemporary life: from tight short pieces of fiction such as Four New Messages, and criticism, to 600-page novels filled with symbols, such as his recent Book of Numbers. From accounts of today to examinations of the wounds of the past, he has opened up ways into the awareness to the profusion, multiplicity, beauty and melancholy of the present.
An Atmospheric Museum (2016), text.
Philippe Costamagna is a leading authority on 16th-century Florentine portraiture, and the director of the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio. A world-renowned connoisseur, he famously rediscovered Bronzino’s Crucifixion at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nice. As well as redeveloping the museum in Ajaccio, he has been charged with creating a new museum devoted to Napoleon in Corsica.
The Museum of Seven Years Ago (2014), text.
Douglas Coupland’s work as a fiction and non-fiction writer, designer, photographer, visual artist, has been defining the contemporary moment for the last 30 years. From his debut novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, published in 1991, to The Age of Earthquakes, co-authored with Shumon Basar and Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2015, his many writings on culture, and participations in it, make him an author for our time.
DETAIL (2014), photographs.
Keren Cytter is a writer and visual artist. Working across video, drawings, theatre, photography and books, she has engaged with the shifts in our narratives, and the impact they have on our lives. Going from the experience of daily life to elaborate narratives, she offers us entries into the many ways we experience contemporary life.
The Little Museum (2014), text, photographs and image still.
Chris Dercon’s impressive career in institutions from the 1980s to today includes artistic director of PS1, New York; director of Witte de With, Rotterdam; then of the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, Rotterdam; of the Haus der Kunst, Munich; and of Tate Modern, London. He is the intendant of the Volksbühne, Berlin.
A Museum Renaissance (2015), text.
Edouard Derom is a scholar and curator. Trained in law and business, he shifted his focus to the history of modern art. He was part of the curatorial team of the exhibition ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, at the Guggenheim Museum, in 2014. He is also the author and co-author of several essays and catalogues about art.
A Museum of Last Things (2015), text.
Edmund de Waal’s work has consistently challenged the sense of time passing, and the reach to timelessness. As a ceramicist, he has turned his craft into what it also is: an art of creating arbitrary, transience-defining objects. As a best-selling author, he has unravelled narratives that defy oblivion and death. Accepting loss, as well as integrating the world’s many ways for creating meaning, he has thought, practiced, and reinvented them.
Artist rooms: a museum of potential (2014), text.
Anthony d’Offay is widely acknowledged for making international contemporary art happen in Great Britain, throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Without him, Andy Warhol’s last self-portrait series would not have happened, many now celebrated artists would not have found the support to blossom as they did, and the London art world would not be what it is. In 2008, seven years after closing his gallery, he gave 725 major works to the British nation. This gift serves as the basis for his new museum model, ARTIST ROOMS.
The Museum of Boredom (2015), text.
Geoff Dyer is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books, spanning fiction and non-fiction, art writing, travel writing, and cultural criticism, have won numerous prizes and have been translated into 24 languages.
Restoring the Cloth (2015), text and images.
The Humfrey Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Art and Archaeology at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, Visiting Professor of Art and Religion at the School of Divinity of the University of Chicago, Jas Elsner is one of today’s preeminent scholars of the art history of the Ancient world, the history of Ancient religious practice, and Ancient historiography.
Darling(s)… (2014), text.
Douglas Gordon’s work has redefined our relation to images and time: drawing from and using both photography and film, he has worked on a wide range of formats, from a single photographic image to a feature-length film – Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, with Philippe Parreno – to a live performance, each time questioning how our relation to a moment, to time passing, could be conditioned by, deconditioned from images.
Note for a Museum of Non-linguistic Communication (2014), text, images and drawings.
Camille Henrot’s work as a visual artist has encompassed almost all media, from drawing to video, installation to photographs, ikebana to books. From minute gestures to expansive projects, she has developed an ongoing practice of inclusion and redefinition of the categories of visual and intellectual thought. Nurtured with thought and deeply aware of the world, she has created situations in which our relation to each other is placed on display.
Museum of Vernacular (2015), photographs.
Alex Israel is a native Angeleno, yet he sees Los Angeles from the point of view of an outsider – from the point of view of its myth. A visual artist, he engages with the many talismans of the city’s cult and culture, and simultaneously produces his own artefacts, as well as a televisual oral history of LA’s recent past. Here, he looks to the city’s architectural vernacular through a selection of details, old (Spanish colonial revival) alongside new (postmodern), which have collectively informed his sensibility and in turn his work.
The Role of a Museum (2014), drawing on paper.
Dakis Joannou is the founder of the DESTE Foundation. A major patron and collector, he has created an institution of his own kind, with yearly programmes and exhibitions in Athens and Hydra. His collection has been presented in many institutions, including the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and the New Museum, New York.
A Museum of Objective Magic (2016), text.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is an encyclopedic visionary: from comics to film, poetry to theatre, novel writing and autobiographical writing, wisdom to painting, his work encompasses every form available to him as a human being. Every time, he challenges our given vision and invites us to exist as free human beings.
Palimpsests of Opportunities (2014), text and images.
For 16 years, Harold Koda served as curator-in-charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. In that capacity, as well as in previous positions at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Costume Institute, and as guest curator at the Guggenheim, he curated numerous exhibitions, from sartorial skills to the acclaim of the public. He is one of fashion’s leading scholars.
5:30 (2014), text.
Wayne Koestenbaum has paved his own creative path, amid critical writings, poetry, diary, innovative forms that cannot be described yet, a very intimate perception of reality, and the visual world. He is also a widely exhibited and celebrated painter. His whole porous world is an intense, human, constructed and personal experience of this intense, human construct – the museum.
THE MADONNA OF THE FUTURE (2014), text.
Ben Lerner rose to prominence in the international literary world with a dense account of his time in Madrid as a Fulbright Scholar, Leaving the Atocha Station. A celebrated poet and fiction writer, he has also developed a great interest in the visual arts and the world of contemporary art, on which he has written a number of essays. He was a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, and the recipient of numerous awards.
London Fields (2016), photographs.
Hilary Lloyd’s work pays a tribute to the many magics of the world: bringing together images, sights from moments of various natures, from the more innocent to the most subversive, from the more visible to the more hidden, she creates conversations, condensations, and allows us to look into the many sides of human life, from the late 1980s until today.
Women’s Museum (2016), text.
Mara McCarthy is the founder and curator of The Box, one of Los Angeles most important contemporary-art institutions. An art centre and a commercial gallery, The Box has produced records, books, collaborations with the communities of Downtown LA, as well as presenting anew the work of visionaries such as Barbara T. Smith, Simone Forti, and Howard Fried, alongside their younger peers.
Either Future of Nothing… (2015), text.
Paul McCarthy is one of today’s most powerful visual artists, working across video, drawing, installation, and performance. He engages with language, and with its many forms, including poetry. In this rare published piece of writing, he questions, in junction and disjunction, the structures, and meaning of the museum, conceived as a metaphysical structure, a structure of power.
Tripartite Model for Potential Museum (after Sade) (2017), drawings on paper.
Tom McCarthy has created some of the most intriguing, elaborate, straightforward, critically and publicly acclaimed novels of our time. From Remainder to Satin Island, his stories bring the reader a new awareness of our world. A thinker as well as a practitioner of writing, he is the author of numerous essays on literature. He is also a visual artist, and the co-founder of the (post-)avant-garde movement the International Necronautical Society.
To My Thinking… (2015), text.
Jonas Mekas has been making art history for nearly 70 years. As a filmmaker, writer and archivist, he has captured the life of New York, from the early 1950s until today. A collaborator of artists from all generations, one of the inventors of the genre of ‘filmed diary’, as well as the author of an actual diary, he has creating genre-defining works across all media, contributing with thought and acts to today’s creative world.
Potential Museum (2015), drawing on paper.
Alessandro Mendini is one of the most influential designers and architects in the world. The creator of the Proust armchair (la poltrona di Proust), he is one of the protagonists and theoreticians of postmodernism, living in a world of signs, interchangeable, where everything can be used and transformed, with amusement and seriousness – including memory.
A Museum of Itself (2015), text and images.
Philippe de Montebello served as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 31 years – its longest serving director. Since leaving the museum in 2008, he has been its director emeritus and Fiske Kimball Professor in the History and Culture of Museums at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. In 2015, he was elected chairman of the Hispanic Museum and Library. One of the world’s pre-eminent museum leaders, he is also one of its leading museum thinkers.
The Museum of Itself (2015), and The Museum of Missed Deadlines (2015), text.
Aram Moshayedi is a curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, where he co-curated (with Hamza Walker) Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only. Since joining the museum in 2013, he has organized projects by artists Oliver Payne and Keiichi Tanaami, Andrea Bowers, Simon Denny, Marwa Arsanios, Avery K. Singer, Maria Hassabi, and Mario García Torres, as well as All the Instruments Agree: an exhibition or a concert, a two-day programme of live music and sound performed by visual artists. Aram Moshayedi’s written contributions have appeared in numerous exhibition catalogues, as well as such publications as Artforum, Art in America, Frieze, Metropolis M, Parkett, Paris, LA, X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, and Bidoun, for which he is a contributing editor.
21 (2015), text and drawings on paper.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, London. The curator of hundreds of exhibitions, the author, contributor and editor of hundreds of books, he has been, for 20 years, defining curating outside the traditional museum structure, and re-thinking the very nature and meaning of the museum.
GodBearr Museumm (2015), text, images and drawings.
Charlemagne Palestine, whose birth name still remains enigmatic, has been active in every aspect of art over the past 40 years: from his extremely influential contribution to underground music in New York in the 1970s to his new invention of the Gesamtkunstwerk to the invention of ceaseless tales for his stuffed animals, he has brought sacredness and vitality into art-making. His highly spiritual approach has opened the way to art for many viewers, with all its innocence and its dangerous depth.
BOOK: HORSE CRAZY WORLD AS A MUSEUM (2015), texts on paper.
Raymond Pettibon has embodied, for the last 30 years, the bridge between counterculture, subculture, culture and the visual arts. His practice of drawing, bringing together poetry, art history, surf, punk, politics, philosophy, into one expanding body of work is unparalleled. From CD covers to large fresco-like artworks, he has also implemented his vision in many situations.
The Ideal Museum in Three Acts (2016), text.
Joachim Pissarro’s career has broken grounds in the world of art: after studying philosophy and art history, he founded the department of impressionist and modern art at Phillips, guest-curated a number of exhibitions at the Royal Academy, London, before becoming chief curator of the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, as the Seymour H. Knox Jr. senior curator of European and contemporary art at Yale University Art Gallery, and as a curator at MoMA’s painting and sculpture department. He currently serves as Bershad Professor of Art History at Hunter College, City University of New York, and director of the Hunter College Galleries.
The Ruins of the Führermuseum (2015), text.
A philosopher by training, Maël Renouard has developed his own form of writing through philosophy, fiction, memory, experience, and intensity. Alongside more reflective practice, he is the author of several novellas, including La Réforme de l’opéra de Pékin. Across history and geography. He was also a speechwriter to former French prime minister, François Fillon.
A Place to Look (2015), text and images.
Amanda Renshaw is one of the English-speaking world’s discreetest and most influential publishers of the past 30 years. An art historian by training and fluent in four languages, she served for over two decades as editorial director of Phaidon, then arguably the most important art publisher in the world. In that capacity, she collaborated with many leading art historians, intellectual and creative figures, in all fields of culture. She brought together ancient and contemporary art, the canon and modern production, from the point of view of art history.
Mac Screensaver (2016), text and images.
David Rimanelli is a critic and writer. A contributing editor at Artforum, he has written seminal essays on many leading contemporary artists – and has often been the first to do so. An art historian by training, with a special interest in 18th- and 19th-century French art and poetry, he has also developed an intensive Instagram practice, with followers participating in his many connections.
The Museum of Silence (2014), text.
Israel Rosenfield is a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches the history of ideas. He holds doctoral degrees both in medicine and philosophy, is a Guggenheim Fellow and a contributor to The New York Review of Books and he has produced considerable work on memory and the intersection of thought and science, from fiction to non-fiction, to both critical and public acclaim.
My Ideal Museum (2016), text.
Olivier Saillard served for seven years as director of the Musée de la mode de la Ville de Paris – Palais Galliera, where he organized many exhibitions, from the Azzedine Alaïa retrospective in 2013 to Anatomie d’une collection (Anatomy of a Collection), in 2016-2017. One of the world’s most acclaimed fashion curators and historians, he is also a poet, a performer, with a deep involvement in the personal aspects of clothing.
MaMA – the first Mars Museum of Art (2015), text.
Dimitar Sasselov is professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, and director of the Origins of Life Initiative at Harvard. In 2002, his team discovered the then most distant planet in the Milky Way. A leading researcher of exoplanets, he has also developed a close dialogue with a number of visual artists. Sheila Doran-Sasselov is a visual and conceptual artist who explores cosmic connections from Boston on Planet Earth.
For a New Museum of Dust (2015), text and photograph.
Luigi Serafini has been developing for decades a unique body of work through drawings, design, painting, photography, sculpture, and books. The author of the Codex Seraphinianus – a book for which he invented a world and an alphabet for it – he has mapped the many phenomena of the world, past, present, and future, transforming them into a multiple view of the many lives of our world.
FROGS AND PLATES (2016), photographs.
Juergen Teller’s entire practice is museological: he brings together sights from the world, and places himself within them, as a device for experiencing them. Whether his family, his friends, the people he randomly encounters, the Musée du Louvre, or a frog, they all become part of his omnivorous museum of reality in photography.
Potential Museum of Nuances (2015), text.
Adam Thirlwell, a multitalented author, is fluent in both fiction and criticism. A celebrated novelist from his debut novel, Politics, published when he was aged 25 and translated into 30 languages, he practices, creates and thinks today’s narratives, and asserts how literature can serve as the ultimate storytelling device, in a world filled with stories. While being a publicly successful writer, he has remained keen on experimenting with forms, in the conception of books, as well as in the art of translation.
The Mystery House Museum (2015), text.
Caroline Thompson’s work for cinema includes writing the screenplays for Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. She is also a producer and filmmaker, and the author of several books, bringing us into an actualized world of fantasy.
La Correspondance, 1985 (2015), photographs of models.
Luc Tuymans understood, very early on, that art has to be redefined from a combination of two apparently antagonistic viewpoints: on the one hand, tackling painting again, and formally contributing to the perpetuation and extension of craft; on the other, abstracting from the many images of contemporary history, from the most to the least visible – and bringing them together in his art.
Egg Man (2015), drawings on paper.
Kaari Upson is one of today’s most innovative, polymorphous and formally gifted artists one can encounter. Pushing the boundaries with anything, from a sheet of paper to a film, to a long-standing project to a sculpture, she has been playing personal memory, collective memory, the memory of the other against and with each other in order to produce a deep sense of humanity.
Potent (2017), paper.
Philippe Vergne is the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He previously served as director of the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Marseille; co-curator of the 2006 Whitney Biennial; deputy director and chief curator of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and director of the Dia Art Foundation. In each role, he challenged the very nature of the institution – and the experience it provides.
I’m Buying! (2015), text and images.
Oriol Vilanova’s artistic practice is one of a gatherer, collector, reinventor of things and their positions in society. An architect and philosopher by training, he has worked in performance, writing, theatre, installation, and collecting and made us aware of the meaning of seriality. His work, blending formal and political connotations, creates a space for meaning to arise from discrepancies.
The Museum of Irreversible Damage (2014), text.
Marina Warner is one of Britain’s most celebrated authors: a fiction writer, scholar, mythographer, cultural critic and historian, she has never shied from any topic, but dug deep into the archaeology of Western memory – from exile to fairies, from the Virgin Mary to phantasmagoria, myths and oriental tales. She was the recipient of the Holberg Prize for 2015, the highest award in the field of the humanities.
A Museum of Handrails (2015), text and photographs.
Richard Wentworth is is a leading intellectual, photographer, sculptor and activist. With Making Do and Getting By, begun in 1972 and ongoing, he is producing what might be the most significant artwork made in the United Kingdom in recent times: gathering every discrepant space in the world that, thanks to its very discrepancy, qualifies as sculptural.
What Are Your Thoughts?… (2016), texts.
Jordan Wolfson’s work is some of the most formally and intellectually potent of our time. Bringing together material from everywhere, from discourse, imagery, with no care as to its source, he blends it into a physical reality – an image, a sculpture, a video, to be experienced directly and vividly. He creates a world in flux where artworks and individuals the experiencing them are all set in motion.