Fernando Dominguez Rubio: “MoMA and The Collapse of Things”

Fernando Domínguez Rubio (Communication, UCSD) will give a talk on Oct 24 in SSH 1246, 4:00-6:00pm

“MoMA and The Collapse of Things: Thoughts on the Material Ecologies of Art, Objecthood, and Digital Culture”

Abstract: I explore the conditions that artworks demand in order to survive as meaningful and valuable ‘objects’ within contemporary art museums as they age and degrade over time. I will use the concept of ‘material ecologies’ to describe the particular set of material, spatial and environmental conditions that contemporary art museums are required to develop to prevent the physical degradation of artworks and to sustain them as timeless ‘museum objects’. Through an ethnographic engagement with the backstage of MoMA, I will reveal the complex ensemble of actors, practices, infrastructures and technologies that generate and operate these material ecologies. Specifically, I will show how these material ecologies have defined the ways of producing, stabilizing and representing artworks as unique and self-contained ‘objects’, and how, in so doing, they have been instrumental to define and to sustain the specific forms of value, meaning and property that characterize contemporary Western art systems. Finally, I will illustrate how the emergence of novel media technologies and art forms, like installations, performance or media art, is radically challenging how museums have traditionally distributed and allocated value, meaning and rights.