Museums After Modernism: Strategies of Engagement

This unique symposium, Museums After Modernism, organized by York University and co-sponsored by the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History, Leeds University and the Ontario Association of Art Galleries will bring together key figures in the museum and gallery world including artists, museum professionals, independent curators and academics. It will take place in Toronto between April 25th and April 28th . The program has been designed to work in a cross-disciplinary manner across the silos of museum and gallery practice, artistic practice and the academic world.

Museums After Modernism will focus on the work of artists, independent curators, museum practitioners and scholars who are engaged in innovative work in this field from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Speakers have been invited to prepare presentations and papers on a number of key issues. These include the rethinking of the relationship between museums and audiences, the role of the collections-based institution in contemporary society and the capacity of the institution to address issues of representation, including First Nations' and culturally diverse production and art forms that have not been easily integrated into the gallery setting.

The symposium will be dedicated to the memory of Judith Mastai, former Head of Public Programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Head of Education at the Art Gallery of Ontario and, all too briefly, Executive Director of the Canadian Craft Museum. She was committed to finding new ways of working within the museum, to broadening the public's relationship with the museum, to better collaboration with artists and with the museum's publics and to reassessing the way in which museums deal with contemporary art and contemporary issues. Her work has been an inspiration for the initiation and development of the program.

The symposium is intended to address a number of issues central to contemporary practice which were Judith's concerns as well.

These include:
• the need for sharing of current experience
• the need to broaden the policy discussion and for practice to be more inclusive
• the need to assess current learnings and to find means to shape new strategies based on those learnings

Participants have been asked to address a number of specific questions in preparing papers for each session. These pertain to the historical understanding of the museum as a site for the confirmation of national objectives; the museum as a contested terrain as to ownership and narratives (for example, the inclusion/exclusion of diverse histories) and the models of collecting and curatorial practice which challenge and disrupt the meta-narrative which has dominated museum and gallery collecting and exhibition practices.

The sessions have been designed to include current practice and research, a variety of perspectives and the opportunity for discussion among creators, museum practitioners and academics. The respondents' roles will be to ensure diverse perspectives on the topics at hand. The last day will provide a less formal opportunity for participants to discuss their learnings.


The program is outlined below. Symposium participants' biographies and abstracts are also available on this site.
Audio recordings of the proceedings are available online and are indicated by the Audio Icon icon.

[Note: We regret that sound quality of the Saturday morning sessions is below standard as a result of a technical problem with the recording process.]

Please note: On Wednesday, April 24th at 7 p.m. the Goethe Institut has invited symposium participants to attend the opening of an exhibition of the photographs of Gosbert Adler (Berlin) and Robin Collyer (Toronto). The artists will discuss their work with Philip Monk of the Power Plant Gallery and Thomas Weski of the Museum Ludwig (view invitation).

Symposium Program

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Note: This evening will take place at Art Gallery of Ontario, (416-977-0414)
317 Dundas Street West (St Patrick subway stop; one block west of University Avenue)
Please use the main entrance.

5 p.m.- 7 p.m.

Registration, Main Entrance

6 p.m.- 7 p.m.

Reception, Members' Lounge

7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Introductory Session, Jackman Hall
  Introductory Remarks, Joyce Zemans (York University)
  Welcome Message, Dennis Reid
  Introduction, Griselda Pollock (Leeds University)
  Welcome, John O'Brian (University of British Columbia)
  Introduction, John O'Brian (University of British Columbia)

  Lecture: Mary Kelly
Audio recording of the video example shown:
For Judith: Thoughts on Absence and Remembering in the Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi

Friday, April 26, 2002

Note: All events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will take place at the Harbourfront Studio Theatre, Harbourfront centre, (416-973-3000)
235 Queenıs Quay West, (TTC: Union Station to 509 or 510 streetcar)

8:30 a.m.

Registration continues; light breakfast

9 a.m. - 12 noon
(with 15 minute break around 10:30 am)

1. Exploding the Old Museum: New Paradigms/Changed Priorities
  Co-Chairs: Mary Kelly and Griselda Pollock (Leeds University).

   Gerald McMaster, Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian
   Nanette Salomon, College of Staten Island/CUNY
• The presentation of Denys Zacharopoulos, Independent Curator, Paris, will be given in his absence

  Respondent: Johanne Lamoureux, Université de Montréal


12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch (on site at Harbourfront centre)

1:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

2. Breaching Divisions: Artists as Curators - The Staging of Cultural Experiences
  Chair: Vera Frenkel

   Terry Atkinson, U.K., (view abstract)
   Robert Houle, Canada, (view abstract)
   Spring Hurlbut, Canada, (view abstract)
  David Rokeby, Canada, (view abstract)


3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Coffee Break

3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

3. Encounters with Art: Reframing the Insider/Outsider Divide -- The Space In-between
  Chair: Joyce Zemans (York University)

  Introductory Remarks by Janna Graham
  Sutapa Biswas, Winchester School of Art
  Janna Graham, Art Gallery of Ontario, and Shadya Yasin
  Ulla Arnell, Riksutställningar, Sweden (view abstract) (view paper)
  Ray Williams, Freer Collection of Asian Art, Smithsonian
  Ruth Phillips, University of British Columbia and Director of the Museum of Anthropology (view abstract)   (view paper)

  Introduction to Martha Kumsa
  Respondent: Martha Kumsa, University of Toronto

Saturday, April 27, 2002

8:30 a.m.

Registration continues; light breakfast

9 a.m. - 12 noon
(with 15 minute break around 10:30 am)

4. Case Studies in New Practices: At the Boundary of Curating and Participation
  Chair: John O'Brian (University of British Columbia)

  Kitty Scott, Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada
  Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick, Curators, critics and editors, (view abstract)

  Discussant: Melanie Fernandez, Art Gallery of Ontario
  Question and Answer

  Sigrid Schade  ,(view abstract)
  Peter White, (view abstract)

  Discussant: • Kim Tomzcak and Lisa Steele, Artists and curators, Video in the Museum

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch (on site at Harbourfront centre)

1 p.m. - 2 p.m.

  Introduction, Vera Frenkel, Multidisciplinary Artist
  Lecture: Irit Rogoff (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Looking Away: Participations in Visual Culture

  Question and Answer Part 1

2 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.


2:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.

5. Representing the Unrepresentable: Trauma and the Museum
  Chair: Johanne Lamoureux (Université de Montréal)

  Reesa Greenberg, Concordia University, Adjunct Faculty York University (view abstract)
  Christine Conley, Adjunct Faculty York University, (view abstract)
   Vera Frenkel, Multidisciplinary Artist
  Sue Malvern, University of Reading
  Sunil Gupta, Independent Writer and Curator, (view abstract)

  Question and Answer Part 1
  Question and Answer Part 2

4:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Coffee break

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

  Lecture: Griselda Pollock(Leeds University)
Beyond the Museum: Weaving the Threads

6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Reception, Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
(located next door to Harbourfront centre)

Sunday, April 28, 2002


The day will be dedicated to summation, evaluation and next steps. The morning will be a round table discussion of the preceding sessions and the afternoon will allow for continued discussion.

9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

6. Reconsiderations: Reculer pour Mieux Sauter
  Chair: Matthew Teitelbaum (Art Gallery of Ontario)

Format: Each speaker will respond to the symposium proceedings. This will be followed by discussion amongst panelists and symposium participants.

  Warren Crichlow, York University
  Joan Borsa, Concordia University
  Dot Tuer, Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto
  Bruce Grenville, Vancouver Art Gallery
  Elizabeth Legge, University of Toronto   (view paper)

  Question and Answer Part 1
  Question and Answer Part 2
  Question and Answer Part 3

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch (on site at Harbourfront)

1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.

7. Looking Forward: A Discussion and planning session for all contributors and participants
Open forum discussion.

  Discussion Part 1
  Discussion Part 2
  Discussion Part 3