Learning from the Public

1970s Community Education Performance Visitors

The future of art is driven by the exchange between museums and their empowered audiences.

Whether it was Chris Burden under that glass that Dennis O’Shea had to finally save him and save us. There was this notion that everything we did was by definition public. And there wasn’t the separation, the sort of professionalization of the curatorial, the educational, the board member, the docent. There was a larger responsibility, and obviously I still believe this very strongly, that everything you write, everything that you organize, everything that you present as a performance, and especially when you educate, the lessons come from your audience, from your students, back to you. The notion that we are the authority or that the museum decides what the future art or the future directions will be for either the market or the cultural world, I think long ago has been dismantled. The exchange is what empowers both sides of it, and until all institutions learn how to best instrumentalize that, I think we’re going to remain stuck. And again, I know I keep harping—I don’t—on digital media, but the quality of interactivity and instant acceptance and critique makes this whole possibility even more forceful, I think, and to me, much more exciting.

Chris Burden, Doomed, 1975. Installation view, Bodyworks, MCA Chicago, Mar 8–Apr 27, 1975. Photo © MCA Chicago.

Chris Burden, Doomed, 1975. Installation view, Bodyworks, MCA Chicago, Mar 8–Apr 27, 1975. Photo © MCA Chicago.

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