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Friday, January 28, 2011

(En)Counter Culture, Flashing Up This Weekend

Posted by Matt Stangel on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 6:21 PM

  • (En)Counter Culture
Sometime between now and Monday, (En)Counter Culture— a "social experiment in visual arts" organized by Kristin Bayans and Joey Brown of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)— will announce the location of a "guerrilla art exhibition" via Twitter.

The "flashmob art exhibit" will last for "approximately 30 minutes" at "a public outdoor location in downtown Portland"— pieced together on the fly by Bayans and Brown "to convey a unified message." Here, the organization's mission is to foster "community reflection upon the conventional definitions of 'museum,' 'curation,' and 'exhibit' through unexpected, brief, and temporary collaborative artistic endeavors."

Okay, right on— follow @EnctrCultrPDX's tweets if you're interested in seeing how things play out— but I'm still wondering why (En)Counter wants to take art out of the traditional museum model. After all, both Bayans and Brown work for OMSI, and it's not necessarily in their best interest to encourage the non-museum art experience— in fact, the opposite, especially in a time when national museum attendance is going down, down, down.

I suspect the central reason for this personal-professional contradiction comes from a dedication to social practice rhetoric, of which (En)Counter's mission fits snugly within. (See this Wikipedia entry for examples of where (En)Counter aligns with the lexicon and ideology of social practice.) Aside from theoretical relevance, why do the definitions of "museum, curation, and exhibit" need exploring?— I mean, we all know what these things are. We understand how, with the addition of art, public space can serve the basic functions of traditional venues.

What do you guys think?— do we need to reflect on "the conventional definitions of 'museum,' 'curation,' and 'exhibit'"? Are flash mob-related events played out to the point of rendering (En)Counter Culture culturally irrelevant? Am I just being a big meanie, or thick-headed, or something else entirely? Let's talk in the comments.

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