Lars Nittve: Director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Artforum International, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Lars Nittve: Director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm


A SWEDISH COURT will soon decide whether local authorities, sports clubs, and companies were justified in charging skiers a fee this past winter for skiing in the tracks these institutions had laid through the countryside. This issue is not just a legal one. It also cuts deep into the passionately held, age-old right of public access, or allemansratten, "everyman's right," a right that everyone living in Sweden takes for granted. The right of public access is the same for everyone and entitles people to roam freely in the countryside, regardless of private property or zoning. The right of public access itself is not regulated in detail, but it is guaranteed in the Swedish constitution. It strikes me that this is an excellent and concrete example of what Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri call commonwealth--a kind of "third place," neither public nor private but having dimensions of both. Those who want skiers' fees will probably lose the battle against this medieval custom, which has survived the advent of property rights well into the twenty-first century. But the issue, arising as it has today, obviously holds implications for other areas, too.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The road from the ski track to the art museum is shorter than one might think. Museums of modern art could, in fact, be defined as attempts to establish various forms of intermediary "third spaces." These institutions offer different kinds of freedoms, yet they are always more or less conscious of a context that is actually entirely closed. I could make another sporting comparison here: Like Alain Robert, the "human Spider-Man" who scales the empty space between two buildings, there is an impression of considerable freedom. Only the toes and the fingertips need a structure for resistance. But dependence on this support is, of course, absolute. For museums, support from the public sector, the private sector, and the market, as well as from history, expectations, and formal and informal power and influence, is omnipresent. The intermediary spaces of the museum exist in a world that cannot be transcended, that has no "outside."

From the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Stedelijk Museum, Reina Sofia, the Centre Pompidou, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, and Moderna Museet, we know them well: classic museums of modern art, defined by years of practice. Indeed, they are fundamentally paradoxical creations that have become the dominant model for art museums. Some of these spaces have successfully cultivated the tension between the modern and the museal, between serving as contemporary arenas and as collecting, historicizing institutions. The same tension arises in the symbolic--and often physical--space of these museums, which is the core (in the broad sense of the word) of all art institutions: a meeting place for artists and works of art on one hand, and for the audience on the other; a place where everything is done to optimize that decisive encounter in which art is activated by contact with viewers, where two entities with diametrically opposite needs meet each other, creating a space where art, people, and ideas can indeed roam freely, as if granted their own right of public access.

The art museum is, quite simply, exposed to pressures coming from many directions today--and I am not referring to the financial pressures experienced by museums, particularly in the US, over the past two years. On the contrary, I am thinking of the pressure from art itself: of the expectations placed on the museum to reshape itself and follow art wherever it may lead--to offer white cubes and black boxes when needed. At the same time, we are coming to realize that the museum is no longer synonymous with a building but depends on an institutional relationship between art and audience. (And this, incidentally, is where the symbolic implications of the institution have grown increasingly and surprisingly important for art.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lars Nittve: Director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.