The Stedelijk as a hybrid and critical platform
Public programming plays an increasingly significant role for museums as they expand the scope of their activities, integrate research- and event-based programs in their core programming, and develop specific models for audience outreach. The Stedelijk Museum initiated its current Public Program in August 2010, and since then it has functioned as a platform for various artistic practices, discussion and debate, research, and innovation. With the continuation of the Public Program in the new building facing the Museumplein, the Stedelijk aims to maintain this platform function and further reflect on the position and possibilities of public programming within the modern and contemporary art institution.
The Public Program of the Stedelijk functions as a hybrid and critical platform for artists, art professionals, and peer institutions. In this regard, artists, curators, critics, and cultural producers are regarded as equally involved in the shaping of contemporary art discourse. Collaboration and hospitality are core values in this practice, both on the level of content and with regard to practical terms and issues, yet without abandoning a strong sense of criticality. The scope and aspirations of the program mirror the vigorous ambition of the Stedelijk, rooted in the museum’s long history and its efforts to connect the international contemporary art discourse to local interests, and vice versa. The ambition of the Public Program is intrinsically international, for international professionals are invited to the museum to share their experience, insights and research, with the aim of integrating this in local and national practices.
Innovative research and practice
In keeping with the programming of The Temporary Stedelijk, the Public Program is characterized by the variety of its events that unites different artistic and cultural disciplines, with a strong focus on innovative research and practice. Through this diversification, the Public Program explores what art can do and how its definition can be expanded beyond traditional and/or normative ways of seeing. It is acknowledged that the Public Program does not have one uniform audience. A method of audience differentiation is implemented in order to appeal to specific audiences for specific events, while always being inviting towards groups that are not directly targeted.
The Stedelijk Public Program, as it aims to both inform and inquire, researches the interaction between critical and creative thinking within the framework of a distinct social and cultural responsibility. The Public Program performs a signalling function for the museum: identifying, contextualizing, and debating developments in society at large, with a specific focus on the relationships between art, politics, and culture – acknowledging the relationship between them as being continuously in flux. On the level of programming, specific events are organized that fulfill this function, drawing special attention to issues that concern non-Western art and artists, gender (politics), critical theory, current political developments (on both an international and national scale), and the inclusion of young audiences in museum activities.
The Public Program is positioned as integrated programming of the museum – informing, contributing to, and questioning the collection and exhibition practice of the Stedelijk. Yet it also functions – in close collaboration with external parties – as an autonomous platform for discussing questions beyond the museum’s practice. The Public Program adds to the experience of the Stedelijk as a space to come together and experience the world around us through art.
VALIE EXPORT, "Stadt", Digital Photography, 1989, courtesy of Charim Gallery Wien