PRINT May 2000

World Report

the new curators at the London ICA

“This is Grand Central Station, not the Bates Motel,” declares Philip Dodd, director of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Dodd’s vision of the ICA as an open “network of relationships” will advance a step with his appointment of a semi-independent four-person team to curate this institute’s exhibitions program (following the departure of Emma Dexter—exhibitions director from 1992 to 1999—for Tate Modern). Dodd wants the new associate directors to furnish a program that avoids a London-centric view and reflects the most exciting trends in the UK, central Europe, and the world; he hopes the team will test the institutional boundaries of fine-art exhibiting and anticipates plenty of exposure for new media. So, gearing up for the test are UK-based artist, curator and writer Matthew Higgs; writer and Stedelijk Museum curator Martin van Nieuwenhuyzen; new-media specialist and associate curator at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Cristina Ricupero; and Glasgow Modern Institute director Toby Webster. Dodd stresses that “design by committee” is not his intention. All four curators will continue their present activities, and each will take responsibility for at least one show per year, with joint projects arising spontaneously. That new gang will by no means close ranks at four: Curatorial space will still be there for independents and newcomers. The team will release details or future programs this summer. Dodd’s innovative strategy poses an inevitable question: Might the ICA’s bid for a healthy institutional plurality descend into a curatorial identity crisis? On the other hand, would an identity crisis be such a bad thing? Despite the unknowns, the plan is eliciting murmurs of approval on the London art beat.