PRINT September 2021


Mahmoud Khaled, Proposal for a House Museum of an Unknown Crying Man (detail), 2017, mixed media.

MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD are navigating the resumption of exhibitions and programming planned before the ongoing global pandemic. In the second part of a package devoted to the museum now, Artforum turns to efforts by artists, historians, and curators to rethink the underpinnings of these vaunted institutions. “Perhaps our institutions of art in particular could be construed as a new technology,” writes contributing editor DANIEL BIRNBAUM, moving from a lucid dream about the empyreal temple envisioned by the artist Hilma af Klint to a reflection on how the digital might offer conditions beyond those of extraction and destruction. Art historian JULIA BRYAN-WILSON traces the ways in which queer and trans artists today are mobilizing their own insurgent museums to hold and activate marginalized narratives. In a wide-ranging roundtable, leaders and alums from New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem—NAOMI BECKWITH, THELMA GOLDEN, THOMAS (T.) JEAN LAX, and LOWERY STOKES SIMS—reflect on the unique history of one of our most significant cultural organizations. “On one level, we are a very traditional institution,” says Golden. “We were not trying to be alternative in our founding.” Meanwhile, art historian CHRISTINE MEHRING addresses the challenges museums face when considering the legitimacy of objects in their collections, taking as her point of departure disputed works in the Panza Collection at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.