Pontus Hultén dies at 82  
I have heard a lot about Hultén, the one who made Moderna Museet the place we all would like it to be (it is not, not really) - or?
It is always strange when heroes and known people dies, so also with Pontus Hultén, who died not many days ago. He will be remembered as long as the term Contemporary Art means something, and as long as someone tries to define what these so-called curators did during the last part of the 20-century.

From the press text of Moderna:

Pontus Hultén, in effect, founded Moderna Museet, when he became its director in 1960 . Very soon, he startled the Swedish public with a succession of innovative exhibitions, such as Movement in Art, incorporating sculptures by Jean Tinguely and PO Ultvedt; and 4 Americans (1962), featuring American pop art by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and others, almost before they were acknowledged in the USA. A string of historic exhibitions followed: Jackson Pollock (1963) and the Dream Museum, where Pontus Hultén persuaded the government to contribute five million Swedish kronor towards buying new works for the collection. Today, these works are the backbone of the museum collection and cannot be valued in money. Pontus Hultén is regarded as one of the world’s most distinguished museum professionals of our time. He devoted his life to art and eventually donated the collection he built up over many years to Moderna Museet.

Moderna Museet won international fame in 1966 with the exhibition SHE – A Cathedral, which consisted of a gigantic sculpture of a reclining woman whose womb was an entrance for visitors who could experience various things inside. The artists behind the work were Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, P O Ultvedt as well as Pontus Hultén himself. When Andy Warhol was shown at Moderna Museet in 1968, this was his first retrospective ever.

In 1974, Pontus Hultén was invited to participate in creating a new cultural centre in the heart of Paris: Centre Pompidou. He directed the institution with great aplomb until 1981, when he went on to start other institutions, including Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, MoCA , Los Angeles, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Kunsthalle Bonn and Museum Jean Tinguely, Basel.

Lars Nittve, director of Moderna Museet:
“Pontus Hultén is a seminal figure in the history of the museum, with his ability to take advantage of unique opportunities and always being ahead of his time. The works that were added to the collection during his directorship are the mainstay of Moderna Museet. It is no exaggeration to say that no other individual has meant more to Moderna Museet.”

One year ago, Pontus Hultén decided to donate some 700 works, or practically his entire private collection, to Moderna Museet. One of his requests was that the donated works, which were gratefully accepted by the government and Moderna Museet, should not be hung as part of the collection, but should be accessible to the public in a user-friendly storehouse – a typically Hulténesque solution that would give the public the freedom to “browse” among the masterpieces as in an art library. The architect who will create this viewing storehouse is Pontus Hultén’s friend and former colleague Renzo Piano (from Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas).

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Now, I love the writings of Jerry Saltz, did I mentioned that? Well, I do, don't I. Although pushing the limits of logic, I very much enjoyed reading his "NO NEXT CHELSEA" in the October issue of Modern Painters. He applies Darwinist methodology on the art scene by claiming not only that most art is bad, and that when you react positively to one show, he might react differently, and he does so with bravura(??) debating that NY will experience problems when the prices in Chelsea will raise the next decade or so and force everyone to learn German. Anyway. He tries to explain that most shows are bad in a 6:1 ratio, 85% are bad and 15% might be ok. Without any further ado he states that this ratio may very well be a natural law, "brilliant, absolutely Darwinian survival mechanism."
Anyway, he makes a fantastic argument for this as he explain how this good: bad ratio of show have to be true, because if not "([...] the Leipzig scene would be the best in the world since, according to the moneybags who buy every painting made there simply because it was made there, no bad painters exist in Leipzig.)"

I rest my case.

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some thouhgts 
During the job interview I had the night before last, some interesting subjects were brought up: why does so many curators/critics etc. turn commercial? why not be in a institution and then just work their way through life having different jobs?
There are some disadvantages working for some institutions: You are expected to have a higher circulation of artists then a commercial gallery. This means that an institution might have a bit of this "hit and run" feel to them as they bring artist in and dumpst them when done. Like a one night stand, being an artist working without at least one commercial gallery might be like that: running around all the time in order to find new projects for new collaborators.

Working with a gallery you have to option to follow an artist over a strech of time, and you do not have to concider problems with the board (you have the bank and the collectors instead, but it seems like they are preferred by some art workers over politicans and boards etc.)

Me, I had a talk about this with artist Øystein Aasan on the phone today. In his opinion can commercial galleries take more chances than almost any institution as they don*t have to concider the audience. He claims that there are no need for a commercial gallery to see if the audience are adapted to the type of art the given artist might produce - and that this is a type of freedom.
FurtherI believe that the museum can also be a laboratorium just like the way it was depicted by Alfred H. Barr and the way Hans Ulrich Obrist have been claiming through greater parts of the 90ties. I believe firmly in the option but viewer, artist and institution have in choosing, and I do not belive that the gallery are less concervative then a institution, they might be more concervative, just look at the situation in Leipzig, the local contemporary art msueum are more up to date then most of the galleries here.

But I have accepted offers to curat shows for galleris in the next comming years, and that is not a problem, and it might actually show that Aasan is right: there are no, not one single, institution that will take a chance on me, not even those in norway, but by the end of 2007 I have, if everything goes as planned, curated 3 shows as I like in three different commercial galleries in three different countries. Strange.

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Forgot: Unitednationsplaza 
M6 was cancelled. Nobody can deny that, but the ideas used in the making of are in circulation still. One of the largest onces are founder of e-flux : Anton Vidokle (hear radio-interview here (as a part of a project form the curator-students in Amsterdam last year)).

His project in Berlin explains itself as an exhibition as school: unitednationsplaza.

It sounds ok, but to be honest; same persons as through the whole 90*ies, just new context. Might be good, could also be a bit boring.

Because I really like the idea of the curatorial team, and I really like some of the projects that Vidokle has produced or organized as a part of e-flux. I wish him the best of luck this weekend and I hope that unitednationsplaza turns out good.

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Thinking Worlds 
Now, this I can like, a biennale that makes a canon of philosophy before the actuall exhibition with half a year! would love to be there, will check out what tickets costs.

"Thinking Worlds" - An International Symposium on
Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetic Theory

Dates: November, 17th -18th, 2006
Place: Moscow, Polytechnic Museum

Co-organizer: The Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, The Moscow Biennale Art Foundation, Russian Institute for Culturology.

Speakers: Giorgio Agamben, Boris Kagarlitsky, Chantale Mouffe, Molly Nesbit, Jacques Ranciere, Mikhail Ryklin, Saskia Sassen, Bernard Stiegler.

The symposium "Thinking Worlds" starts off from the general idea of a biennial as a meeting place between different worlds, geographical, cultural, and professional, and extends this to fundamental questions bearing on the state of philosophy, aesthetic theory, and politics. The different "worlds" or spheres of philosophical reflection, that we find for instance in Kant`s division between the theoretical, the practical, and the aesthetic, have for a long time provided the philosophical reflection of modernity with its substructure. A fundamental questioning of the present must ask to what extent these three fields still exist as separate domains, what kinds of intersections exist between them, and if one of them can be seen as the foundation of the other or if we have to accept a plurality of parallel discourses. Thinking "worlds" would then imply a reflection on the unity and difference of these three domains, and especially so if seen in the light of contemporary politics. The question of whether there is one world that could serve as a promise for thought, or if it is an irrevocable condition that "Thinking Worlds" exists today only in the plural, is more pressing than ever.

Taking its cue from this historical framework, the symposium is divided into three subsections.

Philosophy and the construction of concept.
What is the role of philosophy in relation to the sciences and the arts? Should philosophy create new concepts, and if so, how should it relate to its tradition(s)? Does philosophy have an autonomy of its own, or does it relate only to the other spheres (science, politics, art) as a form of "reflection", i.e., occupying a second order position?

Universality, reason, contingency.
What happens to identity, citizenship etc, in a global world, and what challenges do these changes pose for how we conceive political theory?
- What are the possibilities under which the arts can engage or challenge our present condition?

The limits of aesthetics.
- How should we conceptualize contemporary art today and what tools
should be used to analyze it?
- What is the meaning of a term such as 2aesthetic theory" today (a concept that Adorno already judged to be outmoded at the end of his life), and is there place for the activity of critical judgment in a world that has been characterized as a "society
of the spectacle"?

The conference is organized by Joseph Backstein, Daniel Birnbaum, and Sven-Olov
Wallenstein, and will be moderated by Sven-Olov Wallenstein

Preliminary program of the Moscow Conference "Thinking worlds"
8 participants / 3 panels

1) Philosophy and the creation of concepts: Bernard Stiegler, Giorgio Agamben.
2) Universality, reason, contingency: Jacques Ranciere, Saskia Sassen and Chantal Mouffe
3)The limits of aesthetics: Molly Nesbit, Boris Kagarlitsky and Mikhail Rykhin

November 17
First day: two panels - 5 participants
10.00 -- 10.20 Opening of the conference
10.20 -- 11.00 first talk of the first panel (Bernard Stiegler)
11.00 -- 11.40 second talk of the first panel (Giorgio Agamben)
11.40 -- 12.00
Coffee break
12.00 -- 12.30 open discussion of the first panel
12.30 -- 13.10 first talk of the second panel (Jacques Ranciere)
13.10 -- 14.40
14.40 -- 15.20
second talk of the second panel (Saskia Sassen)
15.20 -- 16.00 third talk of the second panel (Chantal Mouffe)
16.00 -- 16.30 Coffee break
16.30 -- 17.00 open discussion of the second panel

November 18
Second day: third panel – 3 participants + final discussion
11.30 -- 12.20 first talk of the third panel (Molly Nesbit)
12.20 -- 13.00
second talk of the third panel (Boris Kagarlitsky)
13.00 -- 13.20 Coffee break
13.20 -- 14.00 third talk of the third panel (Mikhail Rykhin)
14.00 -- 14.30 open discussion of the third panel
14.30 -- 15.00 Lunch
15.00 -- 17.00 final discussion

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