Beyond dollars and square feet

By GREG COOK  |  April 5, 2006

In other words, the ICA’s immediate future is an affirmation of the institution’s past, its new holdings a signal that it plans to keep on keeping on, only bigger and better now. The permanent collection, chief curator Nicholas Baume says, will help orient visitors to the shock of the new through the familiarity of the (somewhat) old.

And the new building? It’s scheduled to open with four exhibits: the fledgling permanent collection; as many as four finalists for the 2006 ICA Artist Prize, which honors local talent (Ali and Davis are past winners); the continuation of the Momentum series (Chan’s video was a Momentum commission), this time featuring an installation by Argentina native and now Florida resident Sergio Vega, whose work explores history, mythology, and stereotypes of South America; and “Super Vision,” a group show investigating how artists are responding to new technologies that allow us to see farther, sharper, and more microscopically than ever before.

As with the Danforth and Peabody Essex, the ICA’s new, larger space presages more-ambitious programming. “Obviously there’s a critical mass we’ll be able to achieve that we never could in the current facility,” Baume acknowledges. The size and design of the Boylston Street building, which often felt cramped and awkward, stymied the institution from hosting mid-career retrospectives of major figures, and so the ICA specialized in shows that introduced youngish artists like Parker and Hirschhorn. But next year the new facility will accommodate mid-career surveys of photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia, who grew up in Hartford and studied at Boston’s Museum School, and British sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Asked what the new collection reveals about the museum’s identity, Baume pauses. “There isn’t an underlying narrative, other than the narrative of the museum itself.” The ICA hopes to reflect the spirit of innovation, the diversity of our culture, and make good guesses about which art is — and will remain — important. It aims to stay fleet-footed and maintain a sharp eye for new trends, new ideas in art. These are general directions for wandering the always unmapped territory of new art. The truth is that the ICA’s leaders are only beginning to discover where the promise of their new building will lead them.
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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Harvard University, National Geographic Society, Cornelia Parker,  More more >
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