Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New acquisitions & collecting @ the MCA - 22 March

Two birds with one stone at the MCA tonight. Main reason for attending was a young ambassador panel on collecting. Whilst waiting for that to kick off we were able to check out some of the MCA's new acquisitions.

So what of these new pieces? Well there is some big stuff (so that is always good, right?), there is some small stuff, and there is some really out there stuff. All boxes ticked for the acquisitions committee. Biggest thing there is probably Juan Davila's multi panel 'History of Australian Painting'. This is visually arresting but the breadth of it probably detracts for me (trying for too much). I have seen (only online) the Davila they have at Mona and I think I'd like it better. Matthew Jones has done a big pile of replica NY Daily News papers from the date of the stonewall riot. Well, it was interesting and (once explained) I could see the political point but as this former NY'er will tell you no one really reads the Daily News ... much better to have chosen the NY Post! I was glad to see Laith McGregor has been purchased (as I'm sure are Sullivan + Strumpf) and noted it was a biro drawing - sorry Laith, even the MCA would prefer the pens to the paint! James Angus' 'Mountains, valleys and caves' also drew my attention. Just goes to show small can work, even in a big cavernous space.

Next up we had the panel. Three really different angles were given. Firstly Oliver Watts gave an academic overview of the development of collecting and the development of the gallery. A really interesting historical perspective. Next up senior MCA curator Rachel Kent spoke of collecting from the institutions perspective, again very interesting but I am always a bit dubious of the whole collecting by committee. I guess I am always concerned when you have people making relatively subjective judgements with other peoples money (& those decisions can have a huge impact on the career of the artist). Next up was James Emmett and Peter Wilson who discussed their own personal collecting. This was also great as they described their personal journey of collecting. They also made the excellent point that it is not about an investment - a point I strongly agree with. I think their collecting choices are probably more valid than the MCA's as despite not being technically qualified they are putting their money where their tastes are.

Mixed set of points today. We'll share the 3 to all the speakers; 2 for James Angus; and 1 for Laith.

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