He’s back: a year after resigning his position as director of MOCA, Jeffrey Deitch has reportedly partnered with Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum to curate an exhibition on Electronic Dance Music (what the kids call EDM), according to the Wall Street Journal. They are planning to open the traveling show at a large warehouse space in L.A. next spring, followed by stops in Las Vegas, New York, Paris, London, and Berlin.
Visitors can expect to see documentation of EDM culture (we’re thinking photos of furry-booted, pupil-dilated revelers), as well as objects from the history of dance music sure to delight the gear heads out there (deadmau5’s thumb drive perhaps?). Live musical performances will also be part of the show. Oh, and there will actually be some art by the likes of Andreas Gursky, Ben Jones, Takeshi Murata and others.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because Deitch announced in 2012 that he would be organizing a disco show at MOCA, titled “Fire in the Disco,” to be co-curated with dance-rocker James Murphy of the now defunct LCD Soundsystem. This was the final straw for many who felt that Deitch’s tenure at MOCA was symbolic of “the shift in nearly all our museums from a focus on long-range scholarly, curatorial, and educational functions to an obsession with the box office.” John Baldessari cited the announcement of the disco show as one of the contributing factors in his decision to resign from the Museum’s board.
Deitch did receive some recognition for bringing MOCA back from the edge of financial ruin with blockbuster shows like 2010’s “Art in the Streets,” but the emphasis he placed on pop-culture entertainment threatened to overshadow the museum’s role as a space for critical engagement with art. His new partnership with the Grammy Museum seems to be a better fit, allowing him to unabashedly pursue spectacle without the risk of offending delicate sensibilities and/or compromising the institution’s central function.
also by Matt Stromberg
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