Throughout 2013, the Getty community participated in a rotation-curation experiment using the Getty Iris, Twitter, and Facebook. Each week a new staff member took the helm of our social media to chat with you directly and share a passion for a specific topic—from museum education to Renaissance art to web development. Getty Voices concluded in February 2014.—Ed.
In 2012, I was invited to participate in the Getty Artists Program. For my project, I knew I wanted to encourage dialogue about how the world we inhabit is constructed. I didn’t yet know how that would look, or what form it would take.
The project—What #isamuseum?—emerged through extended dialogue with members of the Getty Museum’s Education Department, and it was certainly a collaboration. In meetings and correspondence over several months, ideas were vetted and discussed, sharpened and refined, and some discarded until finally we achieved a solution.
Through the web and social media, we invited everyone to think about, and respond however they wish to, five questions about museums. About what a museum is, who it’s for, and what it does in the world. The questions were simply worded, but not simple to answer, as the remarkable diversity of responses (over 50 a day) illustrated:
- Is a museum a school?
- Is a museum political?
- Is a museum truthful?
- Is a museum fun?
- Is a museum for everyone?
So why this project? I see my artwork as a mode of communication directed toward awareness of the ways in which our world is constructed. Often referencing American history, my work explores the varying relationships between popular culture and fine art. While my work at the Getty fits comfortably into my practice, it is also a deeper engagement with three recent concerns: the inseparability of art and pedagogy; interactions and collaborations with both the museum and its audience; and social media, specifically Twitter, as a new modality of communication.
Although it may not be the mission of the Getty Artists Program, I have indeed been educated by the remarkable Getty staff. My slow pace and reticence to nail down a project, to continue questioning when answers were needed, showed exceptional patience and a confidence that—with a little more time and focus—a really special result could be achieved. It is due to these extraordinary personal efforts of the staff that this project has emerged. For me this collaborative process has been an integral part of the project, and although it will never be seen and can’t be quantified, it is at the core of what I sought to do as an artist in residence at the Getty.
Hear me and several museum colleagues discuss museums via a Google Art Talk.