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Museum Futures Script

Museum Futures: Live, Recorded, Distributed
Centenary Interview 2058

A project by Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska

Interior: The common room, Moderna Museet v3.0

A beautiful lounge, comfortable seating, local lighting, graduated windows with breathtaking views of the sea.The Executive of Moderna v3.0, Ayan Lindquist is waiting to be interviewed in real-time from Guangzhou, in the Asian Multitude.

She is browsing screens as a face fades-up on the wall window.

MS CHAN

Nihao, hej, hello!

 

Hello is that Ayan Lindquist?

 

AYAN LINDQUIST

 

Nihao, hello.

 

Yes Ms Chan, this is Ayan.

 

We are in sync.

 

MS CHAN

 

Thank you so much for finding time…….

 

you must be very busy with the centenary launch.

 

 AYAN

 

It’s a pleasure.

 

We really admire your work on mid 20th C image ecologies. Especially your research on archival practice.

 

MS CHAN

 

Well I’m flattered.  For many Asian non-market institutions, your pioneering work with long-term equity contracts has been inspirational too!

 

AYAN

 

Oh, there was a whole team of us involved…  So lets begin.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. Just to refresh, for the centenary I’d like to archive your live-thread recall of Moderna.

 

AYAN

 

Yep, that’s fine, I’ve enabled about 20 minutes.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, live.

 

Maybe we could start with some personal history. What were you doing before you became executive at Moderna Museet v3.0?

 

AYAN

 

Well, I joined Moderna 2.0 in 2049, almost ten years ago.  First as adviser to the development working group. Then as part of the governance team. I participated in the forking of Moderna 3.0 in 2’51. And was elected fixed-term executive in 2’52,…. uhmm,….. until today.  

 

I’ve got another four years in the post.

 

MS CHAN

 

And before that?

 

AYAN

 

Immediately before joining Moderna I collaborated in the exhibition programme at the MACBA cluster in Mumbai for six years. Although, more in resource provision. That’s where we worked on a version of the equity bond issue you mentioned.

 

MS CHAN

 

And before that?

 

AYAN

 

In programming again at Tate in Doha for four years, particularly developing exhibitionary platforms.  And even before that, I participated in research on cultural governance, for the Nordic Congress of the European Multitude for six years. I suspect exhibition agency and governance are my real strengths.

 

MS CHAN

 

Maybe we should dive into the deep-end. Could you briefly say something of why Moderna v3.0 devolved, and why was it necessary?

 

AYAN

 

As you can imagine there was a lot of consultation beforehand. It’s not something we did without due diligence.  For almost forty years Moderna v2.0 has explored and developed the exhibitionary form.  We pioneered the production of many collaborative exhibitions, resources and assemblages.

 

We helped build robust public - what you prefer to term non-market cultural networks. And scaled those networks to produce our i-commons, part of the vast, glocal, Public Domain. We have continually nurtured and developed emergent art practice. Moderna can proudly, and quite rightly say that we participated in shaping the early 21st century movement of art. From an exhibitionary practice based around art-artefacts, spectacle and consumption - to that of embedded co-production.

 

MS CHAN

 

Do you mean…

 

AYAN

 

Of course there are many complex factors involved…………

 

But we were agent in the shift from a heritage cultural mind-set of ‘broadcast’, to that of emergent, peer-to-peer meshworks.  Following the logic of practice, we became an immanent institution.

 

MS CHAN

 

Could you say a ……………

 

AYAN

 

Uhmm……..

 

Although having said all of that……….

 

We’ve not really answered your question, have we? Given that Moderna 2.0 continues its exhibitionary research, some of us believe that exhibition as a technology, and immanence as an institutional logic needed to be subject to radical revision. So this is what we intend to explore with Moderna 3.0, we want to execute some of the research. To enact. To be more agent than immanent.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. I wondered if you could you say a ……………

 

AYAN

 

Sorry to over-write, but in a way the forking follows something of the tradition of Moderna Museet. Moderna 2.0 mutated through 1.0 because the tension between trying to collect, conserve, and exhibit the history of 20th Century art, and at the same time trying to be a responsible 21st Century art institution proved too difficult to reconcile.  Moderna 1.0 continues its mandate.  Its buildings and collection has global heritage status. In turn, this early hybridization enabled Moderna 2.0 to be more mobile and experimental. In its organizational form, in its devolved administration, and its exhibition-making practice.

 

MS CHAN

 

Could you just expand on the ‘more complex factors’ you mentioned earlier….

 

AYAN

 

That’s a big question!! Let me re-run a general thread from composite………

 

[…]……uhmm  

 

Well, a good place to start might be the bifurcation of the market for ‘contemporary art’ from emergent art practices themselves. Although the public domain has a long genealogy; Waaaay……. back into ancient European land rights, ‘commons’ projects and commonwealth’s.

 

It was the advent of digitalisation, and particularly very early composite language projects in the 1980’s which - and this appears astonishing to us now, were proprietary - that kick-started what were called ‘open’, ‘free’ or non-market resource initiatives.  Of course, these languages, assemblages and the resources they were building needed legal protection. Licenses to keep them out of property and competitive marketization. The General Public License, the legendary GPL legal code was written in 1989.

 

MS CHAN

 

It’s not so old!

 

AYAN

 

So then, text and images – either still or moving; artefacts, systems and processes; music and sound – either as source or assembled; all embedded plant, animal and bodily knowledge; public research, and all possible ecologies of these resources began to be aggregated by the viral licenses into our Public Domain. Landmarks include the releasing of the sequenced human genome in 2001. The foundation of the ‘multitude’ social enterprise coalition in 2’09.  Intellectual Property reform in the teen’s.  The UN-Multitude initiated micro-taxation of global financial transactions in 2’13 – which redirected so many financial resources to Public Domain cultural initiatives. Well I could go on, and on, and on. But anyway, most participants will be over-familiar with this thread.

MS CHAN

 

Remind me, when did Moderna affiliate?

 

AYAN

 

In-Archive records suggest Öppna dagar or Härifrån till allmänningen, with Mejan……. I’m sorry.

 

We did some collaborative ‘open’ knowledge projects with Mejan in Stockholm in late 2’09.  And when Moderna 2.0 launched in 2’12 we declared all new knowledge General Public License version 6, compliant.

 

MS CHAN

 

Wasn’t that initiated by Chus Martinez, one of your predecessors? She seems to have shaped early Moderna 2.0, which in turn, became an inspiration globally.

 

AYAN

 

It’s nice you say so. Since 2’12 we collaborated with the fledgling Nordic Congress, in what was to become the European Multitude, to form the backbone of the Public Domain cultural meshwork.  It eventually convened in late 2’22.  So we were at source.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. Uh ha, thanks.

 

AYAN

 

Now simultaneous with the exponential growth of the Public Domain, was the market for what we still call ‘contemporary art’.  Many historians locate one of the sources for this ‘contemporary art’ market, as the auction in New York in 1973 of the art-artefact collection of Robert and Ethel Scull. An extraordinary collection of paintings by pop-male-artists like Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, and……er……

 

I recall……..Jasper Johns.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. From composite I’m streaming the John Schott analogue film of the sale, from New York MoMa’s Public Domain archive.

 

AYAN

 

It’s a great film, and many of the art-artefacts have subsequently devolved to Moderna.

 

MS CHAN

 

I have the catalogue.

 

It’s present,……….I’m browsing.

 

AYAN

 

That auction set record prices for many artists.

 

It also connected art-artefacts with financial speculation in a way previously unimagined.

 

By 1981 one of the ‘big two’ auction houses, Sotheby’s, was active in 23 countries and had a ‘contemporary art’ market throughput of 4.9 billion old US dollars.  Soon, global Trade Fairs mushroomed. Commercial galleries flourished and a sliver of ‘branded’ artists lived like mid 20th Century media oligarchs.  By 2’06 complex financial trading technologies were using art-artefacts as an asset class. And most public Modern Art Museums were priced out of the ‘contemporary art’ market.  In retrospect, we wasted an enormous amount of time and effort convening financial resources to purchase, and publicly ‘own’ vastly overpriced goods. And we wasted time wooing wealthy speculators, for sporadic gifts and donations too!

 

MS CHAN  

 

That connects! It was the same locally.

 

The conflictual ethical demands in early Modern Art Museums were systemic.  And obviously unsustainable.  Reversing the resource flow, and using Transaction Tax to nourish Public Domain cultural meshworks seems, ……………………well, inevitable.

 

AYAN

 

Ahhh, sometimes, rethreading is such a wonderful luxury! Anyway, auction houses began to buy commercial galleries. And this dissolved the tradition of the primary – managed, and secondary – free art market. As a consequence, by 2’12 the ‘contemporary art’ market was a ‘true’ competitive market, with prices for assets falling as well as rising.  Various ‘contemporary art’ bond, derivate and futures markets were quickly convened. And typically, art-asset portfolios were managed through specialist brokerages linked to banking subsidiaries.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. I also see some local downturns linked to financial debt bubbles bursting. Spectacularly in 2’09, again in 2’24 and again in 2’28. Market corrections?

 

AYAN

 

Probably. Market corrections and their repercussions. Overall the market expanded, matured in 2’27 and has remained sufficiently resourced ever since………  More or less. By 2014 formerly commercial galleries, the primary market, had became a competing meshwork of global auction franchises. By 2‘25 they needed to open branded academies to ensure new assets were produced.

 

MS CHAN

 

I can see the Frieze Art Academy in Beijing, that was one of the earliest.

 

AYAN

 

The market for ‘contemporary art’ became, to all intents and purposes, a competitive commodity market, just like any other. Of course, useful for generating profit and loss through speculation. And useful for generating Public Domain financial resources, but completely divorced from emergent art practice.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. This might be a bit of a dumb query.

 

But does Moderna feel that in the self-replication of the ‘contemporary art’ market, that something valuable has been lost from public Museums?

 

AYAN

 

To be perfectly honest, no.  No, we only experience benefits. You see, through the UN Multitude distribution of Transaction Tax we are much better financially resourced. Which in turn, has enabled us to develop our local cluster and node network.  Generally, competitive markets thrive on artificial difference and managed risk.  They are just too limited a technology to nurture, or challenge, or distribute a truly creative art practice. And just take all these private art-asset collections, built by speculator-collectors, and supported through private foundations.

 

Apart from the hyper-resourced, they all ultimately fail.  Then they’re either broken-up and re-circulated through the ‘contemporary art’ market. Or, more usually, devolve to the multitude and enter public Museum collections.  Here at Moderna, we have benefited enormously from a spate of default donations. Consequently, we’ve a comprehensive collection of ‘contemporary’ art-artefacts through reversion.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. Then this was the basis for the amazing Moderna Contemporary Art exhibition in Shanghai in 2’24.  It was reconstructed as a study module while I was at the Open University in 2’50. I can still recall it. What a collection! What an amazing exhibition! Ok, so maybe here we could locate an ethic approaching something like a critical mass. As Moderna Museet’s collection. exhibitions and activities expanded - and of course other Museums too - the ethic of public generosity is distributed, nurtured and also encouraged. Everyone benefits.  I can see that when the Ericsson group pledged its collection for instance, it triggered a whole avalanche of other important private gifts and donations.

 

Like the Azko - la Caixa collection, or the Generali Foundation gift. Or like when the Guggenheim franchises collapsed as the debt-bubble burst in 2’18, and the Deutsche Bank executive decided to revert their collection.

 

AYAN

 

We think that’s a slightly different case, and certainly of a different magnitude!! Although it’s a common trajectory for many public/private museum hybrids.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, it’s certainly true of museums locally. The former Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing,………. and MOCA in Shanghai for instance.

 

AYAN

 

That connects. The increased resources, and the gifts, donations and reversions enabled us to seed our local cluster devolution.  From 2’15 we invested in partnerships with the Institutet Människa I Nätverk in Stockholm; with agencies in Tallin and also Helsinki.  With the early reversion of the Second Life hive, and with Pushkinskaya in St Petersburg.  We created, what was rather fondly termed, the Baltic cluster.

MS CHAN

 

Ok, from composite I see there had been an earlier experiment with a devolved Moderna. During the enforced closure in 2’02 - 2’03, exhibitions were co-hosted with sympathetic local institutions. There was even a Konstmobilen!

 

AYAN

 

Ja, and it was always considered something of a success. Distributing and re-imagining the collection through the cluster - incidentally we cut our carbon debt to almost 12 – radically scaled our activities. So, while developing locally, we also began to produce a wider Moderna Museet network. The first Moderna node opened in Doha in the United Arab Emirates.  We participated in the local ecologies restructuring of resources; from carbon to knowledge. That was in 2’18. In 2’20, Mumbai emerged, Ex Habare three-year research project in cooperation with several self-organised Research Institutions- I recall Nowhere from Moscow, the Critical Practice consortium in London, and Sarai from Delhi.  And as you already mentioned Shanghai launched in 2’24 with the landmark Contemporary Art exhibition, then the Guangzhou node went live in 2‘29 with La Part Maudite: Bataille and the Accursed Share. A really timely exhibition!  It explored the distribution of trust and ‘well-being’ in a general economy. The ethics of waste and expenditure; and the love, and terror, implicit in uninhibited generosity. Isn’t that node’s location near your present Guangdong Museum hub? On Ersha Island, by the Haiyin Bridge?

 

MS CHAN

 

We’re almost neighbours! As for the La Part Maudite: much of that source work is still live, and still very present.

 

AYAN

 

We saw you did some restoration to the image server codecs recently, thank you for that.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. A pleasure.

 

AYAN

 

Our most recent node emerged in San Paulo in the Americas in 2’33.  Through the agency of the Alan Turing Centenary project Almost Real: Composite Consciousness.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, if I may, I’d just like to loop back with you, to the 20’s and 30’s. It’s when many academic historians think we entered a new exhibitionary ‘golden age’ with Moderna. You co-produced a suite of landmark projects, many of which are still present.

 

AYAN LINDQUIST

 

We’re not too comfortable with the idea of a ‘golden age’. Maybe our work became embedded again. Anyway, if there was a ‘golden age’ we’d like to think it started earlier, maybe in 2‘18. We set about exploring a key term from early machine logic - ‘feedback’.  And we made a re-address to the source, the legendary Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London; on the exhibition’s 50th anniversary.

 

MS CHAN

 

From composite - I see Tate has many Public Domain archive resources - it’s recorded as the first exhibitionary exchange between visual art and digital assemblies.

 

AYAN

 

For us at Moderna, that exhibition set in motion two decades of recurrent projects exploring Art, Technology and Knowledge. Its most recent manifestation, linked to the Turing research, has resulted in Moderna 3.0’s cooperation on a draft amendment to Article 39 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.  We are seeking to extend certain rights to organic/synthetic intelligent composites.

 

MS CHAN

 

You’re co-producing sovereign composites?

 

AYAN

 

Yes, yes, that’s what I was hinting at earlier; about Moderna being more agent, and executing as well as exhibiting.

 

MS CHAN

 

Now I understand Moderna’s centenary proposal for a Museum of Their Wishes. It’s absolutely amazing! I know it’s a very common thread, but definitely worth re-running.  The one about the foundation of the Moderna Museet’s collection with the Museum of Our Wishes exhibition in 1962.  And how this was revisited in 2006 by Lars Nittve, with the Museum of our Wishes II - to address the lack of women artists within the collection.

 

AYAN

 

We see our legacy as a resource, not a burden.

 

It’s something we have been working with for a while, recursive programmes. It’s at root. Actually, Wish II was finally fulfilled in 2’22, when some Dora Maar photographs reverted. But, with the emergence of self-conscious composite intelligence, addressing ‘their’ wishes seemed appropriate, even necessary.

 

And it’s true, if the draft amendment is ratified, it will be an amazing achievement.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok. Even if you don’t like the term, maybe a new ‘golden age’ is beginning?

 

AYAN

 

For that, we’ll all just have to wait and see. But earlier, you were right to suggest that in 2’20, with Ex Habare The Practice of Exhibition, we consolidated the idea of emergent art. And, distributed new institutional practices.

 

MS CHAN

 

In the Asian network it’s common knowledge that Ex Habare reaffirmed the role of the Museum in civil society.

 

AYAN

 

Well to start, we un-compressed the Latinate root of exhibition, ex habare, to reveal the intention of ‘holding-out’ or ‘showing’ evidence in a legal court. It’s obvious, that implicit in exhibition is the desire to show, display and share with others.  By grafting this ancient drive, to desires for creative co-production, we enabled exhibitions to remain core to Moderna’s aspirations. It’s also true that to source, participate, co-produce and share, to generate non-rivalous resources, are vital to the constitution of a Public Domain. And indeed, a civil society. There’s a neat homology. Ex Habare distributed these values, and it’s also true, they replicated at an astonishing speed.

 

MS CHAN

 

It’s so good to be reminded! Even I tend to take the power of exhibition as a technology for granted. Do you think that this is  because artists and others moved into collaborative relationships with Moderna?

 

AYAN

 

Var ska vi börja?

 

Artists and others realised………..

 

that the 19th Century ideological construction of the artist, had reached its absolute limit.  As configured, art as a ‘creative’ process had ceased to innovate, inspire or have any critical purchase. Quite simply it was irrelevant!

 

MS CHAN

 

Everywhere, except in the ‘Contemporary Art’ market!

 

AYAN

 

That heritage ‘broadcast’ communication model of culture that we mentioned earlier, privileges creative exchanges between artist and media in the studio / manufactory.  Exchanges which were distributed through competitive trade and collecting institutions. At best, ‘broadcast’ extended a small measure of creative agency to the encounter between audiences - often referred to as passive ‘viewers’- and artworks.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, I have material from composite. So even when this model was disrupted; like in 1968, the Modellen; A Model for a Qualitative Society exhibition at Moderna for example. It looks like we fell back into umm…… Perhaps the wider creative ecology was just not receptive enough.

 

AYAN

 

You might be right Ms Chan. It was really when artists began to imagine art as a practice, and explore creativity as a social process….

 

MS CHAN

 

Sometime around the late 1990’s perhaps?

 

AYAN

 

Yes, yes, then we could detect something of a change. Artists began to engage creatively with institutions, and vice versa.

 

With all aspects of institutional practice; of course through co-producing exhibitions, but also through archival projects – which you’ve done so much to research Ms Chan – through organisational engagement, administration, and so on……….

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, I’m browsing material from composite on Institutional Critique. Michael Asher and Hans Haacke, they seem to be mostly artists from the America’s in the 1970’s -1980’s

 

AYAN

 

Not sure if those are the appropriate resources? Artists associated with Institutional Critique, I recall Michael Asher and Hans Haacke but also Julie Ault and Group Material, or Andrea Fraser. They had a much more antagonistic and oppositional relationship with exhibitionary institutions. They resented being represented by an exhibitionary institution.

 

Especially those linked to a 19th Century ideology.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, now I’m browsing material on Sputniks, EIPCP, Bruno Latour, Maria Lind, Arteleku, Van Abbe Museum, Superlex, Franc Lacarde, Raqs and Sarai, Moderna’s projects, Bart de Baer….

 

AYAN

 

Yes, this constellation feels more relevant. As artists rethought their practices, they recognised themselves as a nexus of complex social process. And that creativity was inherent in every conceivable transaction producing that nexus. At whatever the intensity, and regardless of the scale of the assembly. The huge challenge for all of us, was to attend to the lines of force, the transactions, and not be dazzled by the subjects, objects or institutions they produced. We recall that it was under these conditions that artists’ practices merged with Moderna. Merged into relations of mutual co-production. And so in exchange, Moderna began to think of itself as a creative institution. Subject to constant critical and creative exploration.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, so these were the forces generating Moderna 2.0 in 2’12

 

AYAN

 

You’re right. We simply stopped thinking of ourselves as a 19th Century museum – which had to constantly expand, commission signature buildings, evolve huge administrative hierarchies – exhibition, education, support, management and so on. And more on instituting – in the ancient sense of the word - of founding and supporting.  On instituting creative practice.  So, we started to play, risk, cooperate, research and rapidly prototype. Not only exhibitions and research projects, but ourselves. Some values were lost – which is always painful, and yet others were produced. And those most relevant maintained, nurtured and cherished. We learnt to invest, long-term, without regard for an interested return. And that’s how we devolved locally, and networked globally. We’ve had some failures; either exhibitions couldn’t convene the necessary resources, or we made mistakes. But as an immanent institution, most experiences were productive.

 

Ahm………Not sure if that jump-cut thread answered your query…………

 

MS CHAN

 

Sort of…..

 

AYAN

 

The short answer could be that artists have transformed Moderna, and we in turn transformed them.

 

MS CHAN

 

Ok, but that last sound-bit is rather banal.

 

Although, the thread’s not uninteresting.

 

AYAN

 

Ironically, our playful devolution of Moderna 2.0 reanimated the historical collection displayed in version 1.0. We freed art-artefacts from their function, of ‘recounting’ the history of 20th Century Art; however alternative, discontinuous, or full of omissions we imagine that thread to be.  And once free, they engaged with real-time discursive transactions. They became live again, contested nodes in competing transactions of unsettled bodies of knowledge.

 

MS CHAN

 

Um…I’m not sure I’m following this………….

 

As time is running out, and there’s so much to cover. I just wonder if you could mention……

 

Could you recall, even briefly, some beacon exhibitions. Like Transactional Aesthetics, or the Ecology of Fear.

 

AYAN

 

Rädslans ekologi, or the Ecology of Fear was timely, given the viral pandemic throughout DNA storage - so many systems were compromised; and the various ‘wars’ that were being waged, against difference, material resources, energy, and public attention……..

 

And I guess the same for Transactional Aesthetics. It was the right moment to be participating in the production of local social enterprise and well-being initiatives……

 

MS CHAN

 

Could you just mention the legendary ARARAT, Alternative Research in Architecture, Resources, Art and Technology exhibited at Moderna in 1976, which you revisited on its 50th anniversary in 2’26. From composite I can see archive materials. They’re present.

 

AYAN

 

There’s not much to add. Obviously the first version of ARARAT explored appropriate local technologies for buildings and urban systems - using sustainable resources.  In 1976, this was the beginning of our understanding of a global ecology, and of the finite nature of mineral resources; especially carbon. Given our population reached 8bn in 2’26 it was vital to revisit the exhibition. To somehow, take stock…

 

The first shock was that so little of the initial exhibition was recoverable - we invested in reconstruction and archival research – it’s all Public Domain composite now. And the second, was the realisation that so little of the source exhibition had had any real effect. We suspect a serious flaw in the exhibitionary form.

 

MS CHAN

 

The lack of resources from those early exhibitions is always disheartening. It’s hard to imagine a time before, even rudimentary Public Domain meshworks, embedded devices, and semantic interfaces.

 

AYAN

 

Well, one of the great outcomes of the Moderna Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2’08, is that they revisited and reflected on the preceding fifty years. We recently found shadow-traces for a Moderna History book.  And for reasons that are not entirely clear, it remained unpublished during the Jubilee celebrations – so, we intend to issue a centenary heritage publication. We’ll be sure to send you a copy.

 

MS CHAN

 

I see we have overrun, I’m so sorry. I just wonder before we disconnect, what is Moderna re-sourcing in the near future?

 

AYAN

 

Well, for us, there are some beautiful assemblies emerging. Real-time consensus is moving from a local to regional scale.  Triangle in the African Multitude is distributing amazing regenerative medical technologies. Renewable energy has moved through the 74% threshold. Um ….. live, almost retro, music performance is popular again. Nano-technology has come of age, and 1:1 molecular replication will soon be enabled, linked to scanning technology hardwired to the manufactories in the Asian network. Outside of heritage, singularity will be overwritten by difference.

 

Now that’s exciting!

 

MS CHAN

 

Exciting indeed! Thank you so much Ayan. It’s been a privilege, really. Enjoy the centenary celebrations, we’ll all be there with you in spirit.

 

Zai Jian, goodbye.

 

AYAN

 

Thank you Ms Chan.

 

Goodbye, zai jian, hejdå.

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