In solidarity with major cultural institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, MIT's List Visual Arts Center has joined Culture Shutdown, an international awareness campaign, and has taped off the entrance to their exhibitions Amalia Pica and Olivier Laric: Versions for the day.
Last October 4, 2012, after 124 years of operation, Bosnia-Herzegovina's National Museum, the Zemaljski Muzej, "closed down due to the government’s failure to secure legal status and adequate funding. Now six other state-level institutions, including the National Art Gallery (Umjetnička Galerija BH), and the National and University Library (Nacionalna i Univerzitetska Biblioteka BH) are also about to become permanently inaccessible. The safety of precious artifacts and heritage are at stake," states the Culture Shutdown website.
Museums around the world have been placing the Culture Shutdown tape in front of artworks, symbolically "erasing" them and making them inaccessible for two days preceding the Day of Museum Solidarity. Today, March 4th, they are sharing the resulting photographs online via the Solidarity Gallery. Among the many participating institutions are the Amsterdam School of Art, the City Culture Institute in Gdańsk, the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade, the German Historical Museum in Berlin, the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, and the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis.
Beyond the importance of the gesture itself, serendipitously, Amalia Pica is a fitting show given the politically-charged nature of Pica's work. It feels like a gesture the artist herself would approve of, and the yellow and black tape that bars the entrance to the List gallery even carries some of the visual simplicity present in her installations and performances. No stranger to the overlap between art, politics and government, in a piece titled On Education (2008), Pica whitewashes an equestrian statue. A Super 8 film documents the Argentine-born artist in a white lab-coat, the standard uniform for students and teachers alike, using a cherry-picker to paint the horse white. The performance appears to comment on the influence governing bodies can have on the way history is presented and taught.
This is the artist's first major solo museum show in the United States, presented jointly with the Museum of Contemporary Art(MCA) Chicago, where it opens April 27, 2013.
Read more about Culture Shutdown on the group's website.