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Exclusive: Büchel's Statement, Part 4

Posted by Geoff Edgers  June 1, 2007 11:27 AM

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First, the story.

Earlier:
The first part.
The second part.
The third part.

The budget for “Training Camp for Democracy” was never clear. The museum only mentioned after the installation was fully underway the costs of adding sprinklers – that would deduct from an already diminished budget. The budget issues at an early stage threaten to jeopardize the completion of the project. Early on the artist alerted the museum that they had to fundraise more and gave useful solutions to save money and even suggested how to incorporate transport subsidies into production costs.

The museum had not really fundraised for a project that they were well aware was costly, not only in materials but more so in labor. They did not approach the installation resourcefully, as they had not looked for cheaper alternatives, and seek more free options for many of the materials.

Christoph, who has been making exhibitions since 1988, has made several of these labor-intensive sprawling installations, – he has the knowledge of how it works and how one is able to find and purchase many materials inexpensively and in most cases for free.

The museum had employed its curator and one curatorial assistant to find and purchase materials – they proved to be unable to be organized and systematic, thereby assembling items that could not be used. They paid no attention to the detail and instructions the artist carefully assigned.

The project was only given a project manager at the last minute on December 15th– in fact, after the original opening date of December 16 was postponed. It is impossible to organize and realize and exhibition such as this without a foreman or one person in charge. A project manager would have controlled the situation and kept up with the daily punch-lists and overseen the schedule. The museum was so poorly equipped that in the beginning of the exhibition’s installation the job of project manager was assigned to the curator, Nato Thompson. As he proved ill equipped at this task, Joe Thompson, the director of the museum assumed this role. All CB needed was one person, full-time dedicated to this job – not a curator or museum director who could only partially supervise due to their other responsibilities in the museum.

The institution proved not to be capable - neither logistically, neither schedule- nor budget-wise to manage the project. The biggest disappointment was that the curator director and head technician did not understand the work or believed enough in the artist to allow him to manage his own installation. The artist had to constantly negotiate over every detail. The museum treated the project as though it was the artist’s wish list for Christmas, eliminating necessary and key elements that were always listed as part of the artwork from the beginning. The museum acted, as they knew more about the artist’s vision then the artist himself. This is indeed ironic since neither the curator of the exhibition or museum director ever saw his exhibition in London, which was on view from six months – opening in September and closing recently. This exhibition was the closest in scale to Mass MoCA’s proposed installation – has the museum responsibles seen this exhibition, they would have been more familiar with the way in which the artist works – and his attention to detail. It was as though the curator and director knew nothing of the artist’s work.

Christoph left for the Christmas holidays after he and his assistants worked for more then 45 days frustrated and defeated by a contentious situation in which the museum technicians and Christoph were not working harmoniously and a museum that was not supporting the realization of a major installation – not just in scope and scale but conceptually, politically and art historically.

Before the artist left it was agreed that the exhibition would be postponed until the 3rd of March thereby compelling the artist to cancel a major solo show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in order to focus on Mass MoCA.

The director made this agreement knowing full well but not admitting that there were not enough funds left to continue the project and open by the March deadline. As it turns out now CB could have done the show in Paris with his assistants – and he would of at least completed an exhibition as the status of “Training Camp…” remains in limbo.

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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