I want to believe art can change the world. I want to believe it’s like the butterfly flapping its wings in Minnesota and creating a hurricane in Ulaanbaatar. And if it’s not true, well, I’ll still believe it’s a viable idea. Art provides a social contract—with audiences, with artists, with content, whether it’s coming from visual art or music or philosophy or films—that doesn’t find an obvious channel in everyday life. An art center provides a venue for something that won’t be on television, won’t be carried by major music distributors. What justifies [contemporary artsist like] Ellsworth Kelly or Matthew Barney or Kara Walker, or artists in general, is that they're anomalies in a culture run by Cartesian logic—therefore, they are absolutely necessary. They create the unnameable, and if you don't make a place for it, the coefficient of civilization goes down.For a pdf of the farewell interview with Vergne that ran in the Walker's May magazine, click here. The Walker's press release on Vergne's return here.
This just in: the Walker Art Center's new chief curator is an old friend—Philippe Vergne, the former senior curator who left in May to head up Francois Pinault's aborted Paris art center, is returning to replace departing curator/deputy director Richard Flood. Great news for the Walker and the U.S. I'm excited: Philippe's a stellar mind in contemporary art. Co-curator of the '06 Whitney Biennial, he's interested in emerging global art and ideas, from copyright to culturejamming. A blogger before blogging was cool (check out his Gallery 9 project Empire of Signs, about his travels in Japan), he's been helpful to me in my Adbusters explorations on art and social change, feeding me ideas and contacts (many of the curators and artists I interviewed in the current issue, from Hou Hanru to Thomas Hirschhorn, were recommended by him). I've quoted him in past issues of the magazine, and this refreshing quote from him appears in the issue now hitting newsstands:
at 8:50 PM