Further evidence that the lines between the commercial and the curatorial continue to blur, a new gallery, Museum as Retail Space (MaRS), is set to open next month in Downtown Los Angeles. The connection between money and museums is nothing new, with collectors donating work and money to institutions and having wings named in their honor. Museums need money to function obviously. It has long been a goal, however, to at least attempt to keep them separate, to keep financial interests out of the curatorial realm as much as possible. MaRS makes no pretense of aspiring to this ideal, stating so quite clearly in its name.
The brainchild of Robert Zin Stark (“a sales wunderkind” states the press release), MaRS will occupy a 6000 square foot space, formerly a Prohibition-era distillery, which was renovated based on Stark’s study of ancient temple architecture (from which ancient cultures isn’t clear). According to the press release, the curatorial program will be guided by “a consumer-constructivist model, positing that one creates meaning in present society through consumptive participation, intended to empower collectors and future collectors as being intrinsic to the canonization of art.” Money talks, and if art sells, it must be good. It is the heretofore disenfranchised collectors who deserve to have a say in which artists get canonized. (Just a guess, but they’ll probably pick artists whose work they collect.)
Similar to Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, another mega-gallery set to open nearby in 2015, MaRS will have a bookstore and smaller retail space, aptly titled “Shop!” (subtle they’re not). It will offer 72 items, for some reason, providing something for everyone (to buy).
The gallery will officially open in two weeks with its inaugural exhibition I’m in A Story, a solo show of work by Raúl De Nieves, whose colorful artistic output spans performance, painting, sculpture and garment design. His work draws on a wide range of sources, from fashion and club culture, to Mexican and Catholic symbolism.
Before that however, MaRS will host a reservation-only performance by Emily Mast titled The Stage is a Cage this Friday. Mast will produce a series of drawings during the performance that will be part of her upcoming exhibition at La Ferme du Buisson in France. Fittingly, as the press release informs, this is Mast’s “first commercially available performance piece.”