Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
© Courtesy of Torrance Art Museum

3320 Civic Center Drive
Torrance, CA 90503
May 28th, 2011 - June 25th, 2011
Opening: May 28th, 2011 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

beach cities/south bay
(310) 618-6340
Tues-Sat 11-5


Opening receptionSaturday, May 28th, 6 - 9 pm

Panel discussion begins prior to opening at 4:30 pm

Let's be honest. Telephone as an idea is perhaps a little loose, intellectually, for a museum to do. Asking one artist to select the next and that person to select the next and so on until 40 artists are selected... the whispered secret of the new and fresh, a sort of underground, from one to another, changing with every telling, seems to fit with a less institutional venue's programming. It has no historical research connected to it. It does not feature a roster of renowned artists from an accepted cannon of contemporary art nor does it thematically expose/explore/investigate a grand notion of our time. It is something that should be done by a young artist-run group, freshly out of grad school, with lots of energy, enthusiasm and a desire to network. It is grass roots art activity and all the better for that.

Which is precisely why we here at TAM are going to do it.

In a return to our roots it is a way to reconnect to the pleasures of 'curating' without the careerism - stepping back and allowing the artists a part in thedecision making process and a way to look at the 'state of the union' for art in LA. Of course I cannot deny the benefits either - connecting TAM to a group of dynamic artists I was somewhat unfamiliar with previously. This project will move the TAM program into new areas, away from the habit of my own curatorial leanings - a good thing for TAM as much as myself personally. A fresh look. A new demographic. It is intended as a balance within the TAM schedule, in between exhibitions from famous artists or International shows and most importantly a way to engage again with what a museum is for and who it is for.

TAM wishes to serve the artist's community as much as anyone else's. A pragmatic look tells us that we cannot compete with the Hammer or MOCA - staff numbers, name recognition and funds, if nothing else, prevent this. So what can we do? We can move faster. We can recognize newer talents and become an advocate for emerging artists. We can see our curatorial model reflected in the idea of the European Kunsthalle and our role as a curators venue integrated with TAM as also an artist's venue, of our role as producers and facilitators. A space that understands and believes in being artist-centric and instigates projects that empower them and affirm our commitment to this ideal.

Yes, we show artists who are internationally recognized and respected - as any museum should. Yes, we have strongly curated theme shows that follow the logic of a thesis and present an outcome from those deliberations. Yes, we also have a regional show that reflects upon those artists who live in the area and are mostly amateurs. But we think that we should also question those roles. This kind of show, self-reflexively chortling at its own scenario, can function to talk about serious matters while having some fun.

Artists selecting each other sounds like a recipe for disaster at times. Unless of course you trust your artists, that you trust their judgement and integrity. A potential problem of quality? We say - Curate the artist not the artwork. Quality will out. Trust in a smart person to select a smart person. Trust that all the genuine investment into this activity, the mutual respect from one artist to another, will emerge from the brackish possibility of purely selfish careerist selections.

Telephone tells you about what smart, emerging LA based artists respect and look at on a peer level, what they wish to be presented to audiences for its quality of thought and integrity. It also tells you about the inner workings of how things really get done. Referrals, recommendations and friendships. Two sides of the same coin, but both halves based in the optimism and hope that artist's have for the value of art and the art world, when so often all we hear of is the base, the selfish and the egotistical, from those that peddle such things.

So. For all the 'juvenile' qualities of this project it is the fresh hope and youthful enthusiasm of its form that we look to and value. Listen closely and I will whisper to you a secret.......

Max Presneill, 2011