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March 18, 2013

Drawing on material from his project Ceci n’est pas une voiture (This is not a vehicle), curator Marti Peran looks at the application of mobility as a means of countering the permanence of traditional museums as well as a way of extending the museum’s presence. In Peran’s words, Ceci n’est pas une voiture is a "reflection on the construction of mobile devices as elements for an expanded conception of the museum, or in some cases as an alternative to it." Peran’s focus was not simply a collection of contemporary examples. The vehicle, in its many forms, has had a relatively long history as a device for establishing exhibition sites wherever they roam.

Mobile devices lurking

By Martí Peran

Motocarro, Spain 2009-2010
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The need for a critical analysis about the functions and roles of the Museum has been approached from different points of view. The so-called Institutional Critique undertook this task, firstly, through the work of a generation of artists who questioned the processes of aesthetic legitimacy imposed by the institution itself; the second generation of Institutional Critique, from the 90's onwards, was characterized by incorporating the critical analysis within the institutional structure itself, an introspection which aimed to underwrite the untouchable museum's capacity for expansion. This makes it imperative to create tools for a variety of third-generation Institutional Critique, capable of examining the museum from the outside with the aim of rehabilitating the aesthetic experience as the foundation of a free subjectivity and a plural public sphere. The creation of mobile ‘paramuseum’ devices must be interpreted as a response to this need, and, consequently, as a possible tool for this third generation institutional Critique.

We Can Xalant a77, Spain 2009
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The prospect of subverting the logic of the Museum by building mobile devices has a long tradition. Since Marcel Duchamp’s famous suitcase (Boîte-en-valise, 1941) or Roger Filliou’s hat (Galerie Légitime, 1962), initiatives to move the aesthetic experience beyond the limits of the museum have multiplied. However, this same tradition of “travelling art” (Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, 1976) has also been the object of a recent co-optation by the conventional Museum. Indeed, in the last decade we have witnessed a proliferation of attempts to expand the perimeter of the traditional Museum with portable structures (the temporary pavilions of the Serpentine Gallery since 2000, the project for the Temporary Guggenheim Tokyo in 2001 or, as a perfect example, the recent Chanel Contemporary Art Container by Zaha Hadid in 2008). 

The Floating Museum, Washington DC 2009-11, and Galeria Callejera, Santiago, Chile 2004-11
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Faced with this invasive phenomena, Ceci n’est pas une voiture aims at reflecting on and documenting those other initiatives which, circulating in public space, collide with these conventional museum prostheses; to the extent that instead of extending the square metres of the museum, they reformulate the functions of the exhibition display as a nomadic platform nurturing direct and self-managed participation, development of social research and dissemination of educational experiences.

Spacebuster, New York, USA 2009
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In other words, if the temporary pavilions of the conventional museum seek to expand the extent and space of presence in order to reinforce the expansion of the museum’s narrative models, the nomadic devices that loom around the museum would be those which, traveling through the same social landscape, experiment with ways of understanding the exhibition cell as a space for reception and creation of plural and critical narratives against the hegemonic model.

Mobile Stealth Unit New York, USA 1999
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