Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Does the Guggenheim Need YouTube?
Thursday, July 15, 2010 - 09:08 AM
It was only a matter of time, wasn't it? Until one of the art world's most renowned institutions began trafficking in amateur YouTubevideos...
That's the turn New York's Guggenheim Museum is making. Instead of enlisting high-art hot shots, the museum will look to the masses for their fall schedule. Internet nobodys are currently submitting their video art for 'YouTube Play,' an exhibit filled exclusively by online entrants.
I find the idea very cool. People who are not professional artists have the chance to present work in one of the world's finest museums. Plus, the pieces will undoubtedly be engaging and weird -- after all, it is the Guggenheim.
But the self-described 'Biennial of Creative Video' begs the question of whether we need a museum, or any physical space, to show this kind of art. YouTube is already something of a gallery, a free one that operates 24/7 right from your computer. Why leave your house to see something you can pull up in any web browser?
On the other hand, the point of an art exhibition is to get many people into the same room, thinking and talking about what's in front of them. 'YouTube Play' would be a vast improvement on the way people usually interact with these videos: by leaving anonymous, half-baked comments on a website.
And the Guggenheim must have an eye on YouTube's audience: that coveted demographic of younger users most (if not all) museums long to capture. We live in an age in which some of the most interesting new art is already at our fingertips - it takes years for it to reach gallery walls. So perhaps what the Guggenheim is saying is: if you can't beat them, join them.
Submit your video through July 31 (read the fine print here) -- a selection of up to 20 videos will be on view to the public October 22–24, with simultaneous presentations at the Guggenheim museums in Berlin, Bilbao, and Venice.