In the heart of Lyon, in front of the Tete d’Or Park, shines with its white marble façade and its behind wall made all in bricks by Renzo Piano during the Nineties in the Cité Internationale, the MAC (Musée d’Art Contemporain).
It has been almost thirty years since this contemporary art centre has been known all over the world, with artists displayed such as Joseph Kosuth, Sol Le Witt, Marina Abramovic and Dan Flavin.
Thierry Raspail, the Museum’s Director and the Biennale de Lyon’s Organizer is confident about the policy that the Museum follows, since its foundation: “Our purpose is to fight against the idea that a museum’s collection must be merely an objective reconstruction of art history. We asked artists to conceive exhibitions that represent the essence of their artworks. Exhibitions, moments, that is what we want to collect. Today we are not able to buy every art work that we commit, so we cannot ask a whole project to one artist. Anyway, my idea is to buy just an artwork of an artist and put it in a group of other works that should represent a sort of fake artist’s biography.
Next to the collection, that now holds more than 1200 pieces, there is a documentation centre strictly linked to the MAC’s activities and artists, reserved to researchers and students; the catalogue is available on the Museum’s website. This is a first catalouging, pushed by a national project called Videomuseum, a platform that collects documents and artworks from the main French art centers, but it is still not concluded. There is in fact a group of documents which have not been catalogued yet, mostly documents referring to the collection present in the museum: “ When we opened we did not have people who researched documents, we had no internet. There are interesting documents that need to be re-organized and our aim is to let them available on the internet as soon as possible”.
The director has very clear ideas on digitalization: “The problem of digitalization is linked to copyright, of artists and their photographs and this represents an economic, administrative and legal barrier, which, at the moment makes this operation almost impossible. However I completely agree with the digitalization of both documents and artworks. I would let them both available online. They have to be seen”.
Most of the local researchers are the ones often present in the archive, but according to Mr Raspail there are also some debates going on, linked to contemporary art, that instead of making simple historical reconstruction, for example, address the problem of fakes in the digital era: “Nowadays especially I think it is really important to hold documentation of what is happening right now, so to spur critical debates about young artists. We have computers and smart phones but we do not have to forget that there is always a history behind the artworks. There are artworks that are completely reproducible or some in which the artist’s hand in not that evident, like some reproductions of artworks by George Brecht, approved by the artist himself, or about the role of new technologies in contemporary art experiences. Sincerely I have not a clear idea on what I think about this issue. It’s impossible to generalize. I find this problem very intriguing as it can generate discussions on very important and current themes”.
This post is also available in: Italian