As an artist living in North Adams, MA , the town where MASS MoCA is located (I am in no way affiliated with the museum), I think it is important to note a crucial component missing from the dialog and that is the responsibility of the museum and the artist to the community in which they are working. MASS MoCA was built as an economic driver in a struggling mill town that had lost its core industry. The idea was always to try to revitalize the local economy through culture. Buchel has demonstrated a penchant for pranks that question the art business (in 2002 he sold his invite to Manifesta for $15,000 on ebay) and apparently has no regard for the working class people of this region who rely on the tourism that MASS MoCA generates for subsistance.
I am generally very protective of artists’ rights but I think this is an unfortunate example of the artist not being sensitive to the situation. When do the rights of the artist supersede the responsibility that artists have within a community? I would argue that this stunt would have been more appropriately executed at a larger, more endowed institution instead. As an artist, I count on artists to enrich our society and to question authority, but not at the expense of an already economically depressed community. Either Buchel didn’t do his homework or, if he did, shame on him for ignoring the impact of his actions in order to bolster his own ego.
An interesting consideration. I very much appreciated hearing from someone who is there and part of the community.
Regardless of the facts in this situation, a museum is a public trust and, as such, has great responsibility to the community. But what responsibilities does an artist have to the community?
Image (c) Joshua Field, The Devil of Salzburg.