PRINT Summer 2021


Ralph Lemon, Rant #3, 2020. Performance view, the Kitchen, New York, February 29, 2020. Ralph Lemon. Photo: Ralph Lemon.

WHEN ARTFORUM generously invited me to contribute to the present issue considering the state of museums today, I suggested, as an alternative, a series of notes written from my perspective as director of the Kitchen, New York, a smaller nonprofit organization. While all arts institutions provide useful windows onto society more broadly—figured as they are within the latter’s contradictions, both economic and cultural—smaller institutions often embody such qualities in living proximity. Certainly, many prescient questions about how institutions may be oriented differently, and with an eye toward sustainability, have been posed continually (even if by necessity) for decades by nonprofits.

For me, this very legacy made the idea of composing any such “notes” by myself counterintuitive. So I asked two friends, Ralph Lemon and Sarah Michelson, if they would also reflect on the continuing role of smaller nonprofit organizations. Of course, just as I sought to recontextualize Artforum’s invitation, these artists aimed to reframe mine. What follows is a text comprising my prompts with their responses, represented here as both distinct and simultaneous—much as has been the case when we have worked together in a physical institutional space.

The results might ask for some reflection not only on nonprofits, but also on the valences of the term nonprofit. If the original formulation suggested an existence not participating in the mainframes of value in art and its economies—an outside that was never truly possible (or even sensical)—perhaps today it speaks to the potential of organizations to operate in a manner concerned less with offering answers than with sustaining questions for their times.

Tim Griffin