Now, the proposal of hospitality applied to an art institution is a frightening thought, possibly. To let go of aesthetic an moral control, to welcome without condition and to embrace whatever follows is not the usual task for a cultural palace that takes pride in its selectivity and stamp of approval. […] To be an hospitable institution would, it seems to me, open up many other kinds of questions from how to relate to the local audience, how to negotiate with the needs of the city where you are located; ween the existence of a fixed institutional architecture down to the simplest matter of the welcome people receive when they come through a door. (124-125)

Now, the term ‘art’ might be starting to describe that space in society for experimentation, questioning and discovery that religion, science and philosophy have occupied sporadically in former times. It has become an active space rather than one of passive observation. Therefore the institutions to foster it have to be part community centre, part laboratory and part academy, with less need for the established showroom function. They must also be political in a direct way, thinking through the consequences of our extreme free market policies. Secondary questions are whether individual institutions will have the courage to find their own balance in this mix or if they will instead follow the old center-periphery model and whether funders can be persuaded to drop the touristic justification for art institutions in favor of increasing creative thinking and intelligence in society. (128)

Esche, Charles (2005): Temporariness, Possibility and Institutional Change. In: Simon Sheikh (Hg.), In the Place of the Public Sphere?, Berlin, B_BOOKS: 122–141.

Charles Esche (born 1962) is a curator, writer, director of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and co-director of Afterall Journal and Books based at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, London. Since 2000, Esche has (co)-curated numerous international exhibitions.


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