(47) The Museum of Wandering
“Couldn’t be more true about our consuming culture,” Mrs. Bento agreed, “I don’t see myself not buying anything with every single trip out, there’s always something I want to get, always a bag or two to carry back. Obviously Fotografiska wants to combine luxurious dinning with the gratification of splendid art viewing. It wants to make one hungry not just for first-class art but more so for top of the line cuisine.”
“And there is another Fotografiska opening in London soon…in Whitechapel, date to be announced, said here in this post.” Wandy fixed her eyes on the IPad screen, “it covers 89,000 square feet, with seven exhibition spaces, a cinema, two restaurants, a cafe and a bar. Sounds like running a multi-functional complex, a mini mall where people go not just for culture and art, but also for entertainment. Also very clever to strategically place a photo museum within ‘a mall’ in order to attract more audience.”
“The ‘legitimate’ marriage of fine art and commerce came pretty late in the West.” said Yosh, “I remember during the seventies, the Parco Museum was situated inside the Parco Department Store building, and since 2003, Mori Art Museum has been sitting on the 53rd floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. These are the great museums inside commercial buildings. There are similar art galleries and centres embedded inside commercial buildings in New York too, in a smaller scale.”
“Well, I’d say art in the contemporary world is overindulged in packaging. It might be the first step if the artist wants to be successful. It is not surprising that photo museums can run like a business, in partnership with world-class restaurants, to be popular, to be in part of the hot social hub.” mused Mr. Bento.
“I do miss the old ways, when artists produced work out of the necessity of expression first, whatever gained was secondary. So much magnificent art produced under lives of bare bone poverty.” Bill gave a small sigh.
“Remember those days when we had exhibitions George?” asked Mr. Bento, “we simply don’t believe anyone would buy our photographs. Instead we just gave away to friends who showed real appreciation. It felt honoured, and was never about money. Now wait, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I reject to put a price on the work, and not appreciating the act of buying. But fundamentally, money was and should, never be the true intention of producing any good and honest art.”
Up to this point Mr. Bento sensed the discussion deviated again. Why were they talking about the marketing, strategy and making of art? It hinted faintly that the HOSOP team was a little lost. They seemed unable to figure out what kind of photo museum they want to build. The House of Something on Photography sounds increasingly vain and vague. What was that something on photography? As the day drew to a close, a thick mist started to build up outside, and Bill got a bit anxious to drive home. The trip would be more difficult when the day got darker, so he excused himself from the meeting. George and Wandy were just a few minutes walk to their apartment. Yosh always walked home to the Junction, which required a good forty-five minutes exercise. But the wind outside was biting, and he decided to take a bus on Dufferin Street.