Walker Art Center’s New Troublemaker

Absentee Landlord, a special exhibit curated by John Waters, opened at the Walker Art Center on Saturday, June 12th. I just heard about it from a former student (and awesome queer blogger!), Anna Nowak. Knowing how much I love troublemakers and making trouble, she posted a link to it on my facebook wall. While I haven’t devoted a lot of attention to Waters’ work, I love his movie, Female Trouble (I wrote about it on this blog a few years ago). I look forward to seeing what he has put together, especially after reading his description in a blog post about the exhibit, A Troublemaker Invades the Walker Art Center!!!

Here’s an excerpt (bold emphasis is mine):

Okay, look out you current tenant artworks, there’s a new absentee landlord in town, me. And I’m not going for rent control. Sure, the trustees left a security deposit of the permanent collection but I want to clean house, reward troublemakers, and invite crashers.  Aren’t all curators landlords who allow fine art to live together in a sublet for a while and be uneasy roommates? Or is it closer to a dictatorship where I can order eviction by deaccession if they talk back, balk at my orders or fail to entice enough public comment?…

Who should room together in the world of contemporary art? Can a Russ Meyer photograph go to sleep in the same gallery as an Yves Klein blue chip masterpiece?  Certainly, Sturtevant is secure enough to be hated, but is Anne Truitt?  Video art has “street cred” these days but can it ever catch up with a John Currin painting in art-history references, even if they’re embraced and mocked? Who’d copy from Richard Prince? Who’d be sloppier to live with than Mike Kelley? And better yet, who’d ruin decoration more than Christopher Wool?  Suppose an “art-terrorist” like Gregory Green was hiding amongst us? Do we snitch or shiver in welcome artistic fear? Would Fred Sandback approve of the damage his fellow roommates have caused or would he think they were trying too hard?

I like the question: Who should room together in the world of contemporary art? I also like the idea of works of art being put together as uneasy roommates and then imagining how they might negotiate living with (and next to) each other. It reminds me of my current interest in the idea of beside/s and the value of allowing different theories/theorists/ideas/experiences/identities to exist next to each other without reconciling or reducing them. How will Waters pose this question of who should room together visually? How does he plan to use his exhibit to reward troublemakers and crashers? I can’t wait to see…

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