Why museums are bad vibes
a quick rant if I might, because I actually can’t bear going to museums anymore. so much is getting in the way of me having a good time. i’m like naaa. museums are bad vibes.
‘it’s just old stuff in rooms, what’s the big deal?’ i hear readers of a certain look droning @ me through the internet. With most UK institutions it’s calm to start with; I think cool, this is government-funded, it’s ours, and that’s what gets me over the threshold to see the culture-things inside. but on entering, that nice image is replaced with busybody staff excited to police the bags and behaviours of anyone* who’s braved their way in (*by anyone i mean everyone but the Ruths of the world). god forbid you answer a phone call in an exhibition; cafes are expensive; there’s nowhere to rest before or after the whole slog, not enough seating in general; and while the building miiiight be accessible, many exhibitions aren’t. recycled air is gross, and the temperature never makes sense for the time of year. and that’s just visitor experience. When we get to the art: permanent collections (you kno the stuff on the walls that never changes) are boring - I don’t wanna see old paintings of people I don’t know, b-side abstract art, and a shitload of boats. permanent collections have to be free because they are bad, but pls free yourself of their permanence and get a new energy i beg. Ticketed shows are never reasonably priced and these big blockbuster exhibitions advertised on public transport just show the same people, things and conservative ideas on rotation. bad and stagnant like tory chat. Why are we brainwashed to think we HAVE to go whispering around these exhibitions in order to keep our finger on the pulse, when what pulse does andy warhol even have? he’s been dead for time. I’m over going to museums to look at Important Things that don’t align with what I really enjoy. i can’t with shuffling from cabinet to cabinet pretending to read the captions. i should have stayed at home. daytime tv is more engaging.
This text is a moment to punctuate, release, and to explain where i’m at. i’m not sorry for the knowledge that stops me enjoying the museum experience, i’m grateful to be here distrusting their activity. So much is stolen colonial property that museum directors now feel is their legacy to keep holding onto. mad. so much is art acquired by people back in the day who made their money off the slave trade & other exploits. even art that’s arrived from other people’s collections makes me feel iffy bc wow, shouldn’t we be grateful the billionaires have let us spend time with their belongings uwu. Contemporary artists whose work is involved in these processes don’t get rental fees/royalties like musicians and authors; the work acquires value without them and the people who benefit most from that rising value are, ofc, the billionaire club collectors. I can’t go to museums without thinking about money, the white powers that be, and the wider working environment. you know, they exploit volunteers, use zero hour contracts, don’t look after public-facing staff (who are on the frontline for an absurd amount of abuse) and generally only hire marginalised identities in the gift shop, kitchen, security and cleaning teams. b careful mentioning unionising. These are the bad vibes i’m talking about. oh it’s so nice u have an educational wing! oh wait the opioid crisis causing Sackler family paid for it. get to fuck. White illuminati curatorial departments of Alistairs and Susans and their boring personalities only curate whiteness because that’s all they recognise as being qualified for exhibition status - an aesthetic ‘constructed to justify and perpetuate colonialism’ as @redpraxis tweets. BAME, lgbt, disabled and working class communities have wide diverse actual cultures that aren’t seen as worthy of Collections - and if they are subject, it’s through the lens of the white middle class curators working out their own subjectivities on marginalised bodies, violently. I see you all programming public talks about diversifying the museum in order to buy yourselves more time. I want to ask, how long are you planning on keeping up the charade? I guess it’s cheaper to throw a speaker fee at the problem instead of a full salary; cheaper to pay an underrepresented creative 2 hours to run a workshop instead of commissioning them to do something substantial. there’s an endemic right now of museums and galleries being made up with themselves for hiring a woman of colour (for example) as curator in residence or visiting curator or temporary maternity cover, and from all reports reaping the good good benefits of Looking Diverse whilst treating that individual with no respect whatsoever, because they are different, they can’t really complain because we’re hiring them, and they’ll be gone soon anyway so who cares. it’s fucked through and through.
Directors and Curators, these problems aren’t new to you. critics, artists, visitors and good staff raise them on the daily. So it’s not that you CAN’T change things for the better, it’s that you simply choose not to, as these aren’t ‘problems’ for you because of who you are as people. opaque, evasive, disinterested. you don’t ask us what we want to see or how we want you to be because you don’t care. The whole shape of the box and everything that’s in it is just not conducive to the aesthetic experience I want to access from museums. i learn more from twitter threads anyway, and i feel enough from video games to do without. why would I give you my visitor number? i don’t want to be seen near you. I want to stay away, i wanna boycott, protest. it’s the end of the decade and i don’t know how else to say this but I’m DONE, breaking up with museums FINITO my legs and eyes are closed. so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen GOOD NIGHT