Friday, May 28, 2010

Another Curatorial Trip

by Ariel Plotek, Assistant Curator at the Museum of Art

I went to graduate school at NYU, but hadn’t been back to the city in over a year, so a recent courier trip to NY was a homecoming of sorts. The courier trip is a funny feature of the life curatorial. It comes as a surprise to most to learn that works from the collection don’t travel alone. Indeed, every crate—whether onboard a commercial flight to London or a climate-controlled truck to Los Angeles—makes the trip with a courier, usually a curator or registrar who follows the work each step of the way. On this particular occasion I was overseeing the return leg of a loan, from JFK to LAX, and on to San Diego. I had, however, flown out a few days early—time to do some research, see the shows and catch-up with colleagues. It was a particularly good time for art in NYC: gallery week in Chelsea (including the opening of bad-boy Nate Lowman’s latest at Andrea Rosen), two major shows (Marina Abramovic and William Kentridge) at MoMA, the much-publicized (and unfortunately named) Skin-Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection (curated by Jeff Koons) at the New Museum, a specially good Whitney Biennial, and the opening of the New York Photo Festival in DUMBO. The trip’s real treat, however, came as something of a surprise: a knock-out Otto Dix show at the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue. Working on Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris (opening July 10), depictions of prostitutes have been much on my mind, and no one does the dark side of decadence quite like Dix. No less harrowing than his depictions of the trenches, Dix’s portraits of soldiers on leave in the cabarets and bordellos of a Weimar noir are haunting and hair-raising momento mori. Speaking of which, I was greeted at the Rubin Museum (where I supervised the de-installation and crating of our three loans) by the bluntly titled exhibition Remember That You Will Die, a selection of vanitas subjects from East and West designed to give pause. Still much on my mind as I boarded the plane the next day, happy to touch-down safe and sound six hours later in sunny CA.
..and the photo? Me, interrupting a photo shoot at the Chelsea Hotel.


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