Remember last December, when we all wondered what would happen at the Frye now that Robin Held was leaving to become executive director of Reel Grrls after seven extremely influential years redirecting the museum's course? We were told by Frye director JoAnne Birnie-Danzker that it wasn't clear whether a new full-time curator would be hired in Held's place. And we complained.
An email today still doesn't answer the question of whether the Frye will have a full-time curator. It announces instead a curious event coming this fall, created by a team of curators:
Creativity as a commanding force of nature and a veritable tsunami of exceptional Seattle artists will have their full impact felt at the Frye Art Museum from October 13, 2012 to January 13, 2013 during MW [Moment Magnitude], a cross-platform project of visual art, performances, readings, concerts, dance, rehearsals, and specially designed arts engagement programs.
This groundbreaking exhibition poses the question: What is the magnitude of this moment? The concluding event in the Frye’s 60th Anniversary celebration, MW [Moment Magnitude] is a large-scale project conceived and curated by a collective of five distinguished artists, musicians, writers, and curators: Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Joshua Kohl, Ryan Mitchell, Doug Nufer, and Yoko Ott. Numerous leading Seattle artists will take part in MW [Moment Magnitude]; the list of participants and programming will be announced in late summer.
MW [Moment Magnitude] takes its name from the moment magnitude scale used by seismologists to measure the size of all modern, large earthquakes in terms of the energy released.
“This project is about multiple perspectives, breaking boundaries between disciplines, bringing together a critical mass of exceptional artists working in Seattle, and exploring artistic practice at this specific moment in this particular place,” said Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Director of the Frye Art Museum. “It will intensify the ongoing transformation of the Frye Art Museum’s institutional DNA, and the forms of its curatorial and community-based practices. The curatorial collective wants visitors to experience the extraordinary creative energy being released in this place right now. And to embrace the limitless freedom that comes when caution and preconceived notions are thrown to the wind.”
MW [Moment Magnitude] will focus on Seattle as a global epicenter of creative activity. The exhibition will be in constant motion and transformation, a dynamic, living presentation that spreads throughout the Frye, including the Café and Museum Store, and overflows into additional venues in the city. A specially designed, shape-shifting environment for live music, time-based art, art production, and rehearsal will be created in the Frye’s largest gallery space.
MW [Moment Magnitude] will continue the Frye Art Museum’s inquiry into the role of the museum in the 21st century, in which the museum spills into the city; supports artistic production as well as exhibits it; and is committed to a multiplicity of voices, including those of artist- and citizen-curators. These ideas are central to recent exhibitions at the Frye, including The Seattle Project (2010), Isaac Layman – Paradise (2011), Beloved: Pictures at an Exhibition (2011-12), and the multidisciplinary surveys of Implied Violence (2010-11) and Degenerate Art Ensemble (2011).
The curatorial collective behind MW [Moment Magnitude] brings diversity of practice and global perspective to this ambitious project.
We're in a very different place than we were during the Edifice Complex of the late 20th century, when the holy grail was a new building. Now, the holy grail is exploding the walls of your building and getting the hell outside it, or escaping its object-based, discipline-dividing conventions even while remaining inside it.
This—an exhibition of local contemporary artists perhaps in the mold of the old-fashioned "exposition" as much as the modernist "exhibition"—could be interesting. Or it could make us long for a show of stony, minimalist sculpture. We'll see.