Sep '04 - Aug '08
Congratulations on opening your Design Life Now show last night. It was excellent to see local faculty like Howeler Yoon, Scott Cohen, and surely others that I didn't even know were from the north east. As far as I can tell this is the first design show that the museum has hosted and it suits you well. Having visited the show in its original home at the Cooper Hewitt, I was excited to see that you grabbed this opportunity to redesign the installation itself and bring it to a level of quality that equals that of the things on display. Of course I'm a little partial to MOS given that they're affiliated with my school, but the Marfa-minimal exhibition design maintains a stealthy edge. Actually, it could be a model for your institution.
Left: MOS does Marfa. Right: yk behind the wall of reactive blue LEDs that she worked on for Howeler Yoon.
Let's face it, you have formidable competition if you want to be a major art museum on the east coast, but who owns American design? Which institution or group institutions are actively supporting our design scene? The answer, really, is no one. MOMA hosts important shows but moves at the pace of a ox, the Walker is exiled... frankly, and I have mixed feelings about writing this, ID Magazine with its Annual Design Review may be one of the most reliable bellwethers of contemporary American design.
But you, ICA, are sitting in the middle of what must be one of the world's best design hives. MIT and the GSD preside over Cambridge just across the river; Boston itself has a number of art and design schools; a short train ride south you have RISD churning out fantastic work in a number of disciplines; and judging by all of the faculty who come here weekly from NY to teach, it's not out of reach from the Big Apple.
ICA -> ICAD? Besides, your gallery is already split into two lobes!
The Design Museum in London and the NAI in Rotterdam are both doing just fine despite lacking any fine arts in their galleries. Maybe the ICA should go on an art diet too? Take advantage of your unique geographic location, support the thriving design community that's at your doorstep, and help Boston escape the position of cultural stealth it has held for so long. Become the arbiters of American design, take a role in the dialog of contemporary design on a global scale, and in doing so save yourself from having to compete with larger fine arts institutions that you have little hope of toppling.
P.S. If you allow people to take pictures without having your guards hound them to "delete that right away", those people will post their pictures to the internet and give you free press. Of course, since your guards are so aggressive the pictures that do end up on the internet sort of suck.