Six College and University Art Museums Form New Media Arts Consortium
Inaugural Joint Acquisition is William Kentridge’s Tango for Page Turning
A group of six northeast college and university art museums have formed a collaborative partnership, the New Media Arts Consortium, to jointly acquire and share ownership of digital, interactive, and new media works. The partner museums are the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, ME; the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, ME; the Middlebury College Museum of Art in Middlebury, VT; the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley, MA; the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA; and the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. The Consortium’s inaugural acquisition, Tango for Page Turning (2012-13) by South African artist William Kentridge, will be featured in exhibitions and utilized in classrooms to enrich interdisciplinary teaching across a wide range of academic fields.
The Consortium marks a pioneering approach to collecting new media art, a category that broadly encompasses works originating from video, digital, and computer technologies. The master copy of each acquired work will travel between member institutions for public exhibitions and screenings, and each organization will retain a copy of the work to support research and teaching. Tango for Page Turning will first be exhibited at the Colby College Museum of Art this summer. On view from June 14 through August 21, it will be presented alongside Picasso’s Vollard Suite, another special exhibition highlighting a recent acquisition. The video will be on view at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum from September 5 through December 17, 2017.
The Consortium will enable the museums to acquire a greater range of works than they would be able to purchase individually, and to draw on the resources and expertise at each institution to create a dynamic and diverse series of courses, learning opportunities for students, faculty collaborations, and programs for their campuses and public communities. All of the museums of the New Media Arts Consortium offer free admission, allowing students, staff, faculty, and the greater public to view the acquired works.
Tango for Page Turning is a single channel video by William Kentridge (b. 1955), best known for his animated films that confront the brutalities of apartheid. The two minute and forty-eight second video of charcoal drawings displays Kentridge’s signature sketching, erasure, and stop-motion animation techniques. Originally created for the chamber opera Refuse the Hour (2012-2013), Tango for Page Turning arose out of a series of conversations between Kentridge and the historian of science Peter Galison on issues including the history of the control of world time, relativity, black holes, and string theory. The video captures the turning pages of a 19th century chemistry book, upon which Kentridge illustrated images of the South African dancer Dada Masilo. Synthesizing music, dance, and poetry, and interweaving historical sources with recent advancements in science, Tango for Page Turning embodies the interdisciplinary framework of the contemporary academic art museum and will serve as a resource for students in a wide range of departments.
“We are so pleased to be partnering with our college and university art museum colleagues on such an important initiative. Our new consortium will benefit students, faculty, and our broader communities by making accessible major works of contemporary art of innovative media,” noted Bowdoin College Museum of Art Co-Director, Frank Goodyear. “Kentridge’s work touches on so many key elements of the liberal arts—ranging from the history of science to music and dance, to literature, politics, and the visual arts—and the interdisciplinary reach of Tango for Page Turning makes it ideal for a campus collection,” continued Co-Director Anne Collins Goodyear. “The work offers fertile terrain for engagement from multiple vantage points, and we look forward to presenting it at Bowdoin soon.”
“As museums with a shared teaching mission and a commitment to broaden our collective holdings in new media, we saw a unique opportunity to join forces to acquire significant artworks,” said Sharon Corwin, the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art. “As a result, we are now able to present to our respective audiences a major work by one of the most respected artists working in video today, while enhancing our engagement with faculty and students. Tango for Page Turning will be the first of many shared acquisitions by the New Media Arts Consortium and is a spectacular first step to launch this game-changing partnership.”
“Tango for Page Turning joins a burgeoning collection of film and video art at Middlebury,” said Emmie Donadio, Middlebury College Museum of Art’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. It will offer colleagues across the performing arts as well as visitors to the museum a close if brief encounter with the deep intellectual and esthetic concerns of William Kentridge, one of the most prolific and respected artists working in all mediums today. We are thrilled to be able to participate in the consortium and to benefit from the stimulating conversations it has already provoked.”
“With the launch of the New Media Arts Consortium, the study of contemporary, moving image-based art at Mount Holyoke College enters a new phase,” said Mount Holyoke Professor of Film Studies Robin Blaetz. “Just as our students have been able to engage with a remarkable array of the art of the past, they will now have access to some of the most challenging and significant art of their own time. The new media work will provide the missing link that connects the cinema and its practices with both the past and our screen-filled, digital present.”
“Contemporary artists increasingly draw upon digital technologies to make their work, and it is important for us as a teaching museum to weave these works into our ongoing conversation about contemporary creativity,” said Ian Berry, Dayton Director of Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum. “We look forward to employing William Kentridge’s fantastic film in our work with students and faculty across disciplines, and to continued collaboration with our partners in the Consortium.”