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Linda Norden Lands

Posted by Geoff Edgers  March 3, 2008 04:56 PM

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Linda Norden, the first curator of contemporary art at the Fogg, has landed a new gig. She's director of the James Gallery at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Here's what she told me about the new job.

"The job itself is an exciting confluence of much that matters to me most: an opportunity to organize (hopefully) thoughtful, focused, small exhibitions in a modest, but amazingly situated space - Fifth Avenue and 35th Street, the storefront corner of the old B. Altman's building, to which the CUNY Graduate Center relocated 1999. More important, the context of a great public university, renowned for its active engagement with ideas and with the city, an exceptional boss - I report to the president of the Graduate Center, Bill Kelly, who by all accounts, is an exceptional administrator and public intellectual. (He's a 19th century American literature scholar.) His commitment to making the Graduate Center a vital, urban, public university extends to his interest in the role the gallery I'm directing and programming might play. And, without naming names, I should add that he was assisted in laying the groundwork for the gallery's newly ambitious agenda by one of the members of my collections committee at the Fogg. So I'm going into this job with a level of support I haven't had in some time.

The only down side is absence of a collection -- a blessing to the extent that I am spared much of the battling and questionable programming that plagues institutions who have to make collection acquisitions a priority; but a loss, in that I love the way institutions are defined by their collections and history of collecting, and I love working amidst and with the art! But I'm in New York, now, so art is not to find, and the openness and lack of bureaucratic constraint this job promises more than make up for that absence. I will be organizing about four shows a year, curating some, but also inviting selected curators to organize exhibitions conceived for this space and context; working with faculty and graduate students in the program to organize exhibitions when their research lends itself to a focused show in the space; and working directly with artists. My goal is to cultivate a space distinct from both museum and gallery, and from an earlier generation alternative space, which responds directly to things proposed within the art it exhibits, and indirectly to the intellectual ferment of the university and the city within which the gallery sits."

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