Last Thursday, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced the launch of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, an ambitious new project intended to bring about cross-cultural exchange and broaden the scope of the Guggenheim’s collection. Over the course of five years, the museum will invite guest curators from South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa, three geographical areas that lie outside of the Western tradition of art, to produce exhibitions that reflect the state of contemporary art and intellectual discourse in their region. The Guggenheim is inviting a curator from each region to participate in a two-year residency at the Guggenheim, beginning with June Yap, former curator of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore, who will represent South and Southeast Asia. Each exhibition will be shown at the Guggenheim and two other global institutions, and upon completion of the tour, the works will enter the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.
This initiative reflects the growth of the global art market as well as a general dissolution of cultural borders as a result of the widespread availability of online information—what was once the domain of those with means to travel extensively is now available with the click of the mouse. We are entering into a post-national age in which culture is consumed based on personal choices rather that geographical boundaries. In addition to these cultural shifts, institutional critiques have gained traction in recent years with groups such as the Occupy Wall Street Arts and Labor working group and the resurgence of 1970s feminist group the Guerrilla Girls, who recently performed at the Brooklyn Museum and have an exhibition at Columbia College in Chicago.
The Guggenheim Global Initiative is a timely reaction to these cultural forces and reflects its mission as a contemporary institution that changes along with society. The initiative ensures that the Guggenheim will remain a part of the conversation for years to come.