MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

List Visual Arts Center

The year was inaugurated with curators Katy Kline and Helaine Posner's three weeks in Paris installing the List-organized exhibition Leon Golub and Nancy Spero: War and Memory at the American Center where it opened on September 29, 1994 and continued through January 13, 1995. A reception co-hosted by the MIT Club of Paris was among the opening festivities. Among other highlights were the inclusion of two LVAC exhibitions in the Boston Herald's "Top Ten Exhibitions of 1994," an award from the American Association of Museums for the List Center catalogue Sandy Walker: Woodblock Prints, and an award from the Boston Society of Architects for the collaboration among artists and architect on the art for MIT's Biology Building, an initiative administered by the List Center.

The Center's Advisory Committee met four times and welcomed new faculty members Henry Jenkins and Peter Temin. Discussions centered on strategies for building more effective connections to the MIT academic community. It was decided that as of the new fiscal year, this committee would be decoupled from the Council for the Arts to avoid conflict in fundraising and other advocacy efforts.

Thanks to the energetic intervention of Ellen Harris, signage on the Ames Street facade of the Wiesner Building publicly identifying the Center was installed, offering a helping hand to visitors previously condemned to confused wandering.


Critical Mass (Hayden Gallery, October 8 - December 18, 1994) On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the detonation of the first atomic bomb, photographer Meridel Rubenstein, videographers Steina and Woody Vasulka and writer Ellen Zweig collaborated on this series of installations, involving still photograph, video, sculpture, music and performance, which evoked the landscape, the San Ildefonso Pueblo and the community of international scientists working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. The project was organized by the New Mexico Museum in Santa Fe.

The Ghost in the Machine (Reference Gallery, October 8 - December 18, 1994) The artists Anthony Aziz & Sammy Cucher, Keith Cottingham, Jeff Wall, and Michael Wenyon and Susan Gamble each employed conceptual art strategies and digital image manipulation of the human form in the service of an investigation of personal identity. The exhibition and its accompanying catalog was organized by Assistant Curator Ron Platt.

Roni Horn: Inner Geography (Bakalar Gallery, October 8 - December 18, 1994) Since 1975 this New York-based artist has made frequent solitary journeys to Iceland. The exhibition comprised drawings, photographs and books based directly upon her visual and spiritual experiences in this island nation's stark and striking pre-glacial landscape. The project was organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation (January 21 - March 26, 1995) Hayden, Reference and Bakalar Galleries) Whereas the subject of the feminine has been well scrutinized in contemporary art, this was one of the first exhibitions to examine its counterpart, the social construction of masculinity. Organized by LVAC Curator Helaine Posner and guest curator Andrew Perchuk, specific male archetypes were explored by artists Mary Kelly, Charles Ray, Graham Durwood, Matthew Barney, Michael Yue Tong, Dale Kistemaker, Keith Piper, Clegg & Guttmann, Donald Moffett, Lyle Ashton Harris and Glenn Ligon. The accompanying 160-page publication, produced in collaboration with MIT Press, contained essays by the curators as well as four outside scholars of film, sociology and cultural history. (The extensive research bibliography was compiled by Rotch librarian Michael Leininger.) The project received partial funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Leon Golub and Nancy Spero: War and Memory (April 18 - June 25, 1995) Hayden, Reference and Bakalar Galleries) These two senior American painters, artistic and marital partners for over forty years, have worked in a figurative, expressionist mode, frequently outside the mainstream, to explore themes of power and vulnerability both

universal and grounded in specific post-World War II political realities. Spero created "To the Revolution," a new site-specific wall printing-installation in the entrance to the List Center. The fully illustrated 104-page bilingual catalog included an introduction by curators Katy Kline and Helaine Posner and an interview with the artists.

Exhibitions were reviewed in both popular and specialized press, including The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Phoenix, The Los Angeles Times, Artforum and Art in America.


A variety of programs were planned to supplement the learning experience of the various exhibitions. Gallery talks were given by the curators and special tours arranged for groups from, for example, The Newark Museum, Christies, Inc., Holy Cross College, Massachusetts College of Art and Monserrat College of Art.

During the Critical Mass exhibition Emeriti Professors Philip Morrison and Victor Weisskopf spoke to a large audience, including many students, of their experiences at Los Alamos. Subsequently Hugh Gusterson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and Paula Gunn Allen, noted Native-American author from UCLA, discussed "How Weapons Scientists and Native-Americans Talk About Nuclearity"; Charles Weiner, Professor of the History of Science and Technology moderated.

"Pixels at an Exhibition: Computers & Contemporary Photography," a panel discussion moderated by Ron Platt, curator of The Ghost in the Machine, brought together artists Gamble and Wenyon, Dean of Architecture William Mitchell and photographer Olivia Parker.

For The Masculine Masquerade an ambitious film series "Postwar Masculinity in American Film," co-organized with Professor Henry Jenkins (Film and Media Studies) included ten double features on such topics are male initiation, male relations, male rituals, male sexualities and male identities. A final symposium "Masculinity, the Masquerade, Melodrama and the Movies" with the participation of J. Hoberman, film critic for the Village Voice, and Patricia Mellencamp, feminist art historian and Steven Cohan, Professor of English at Syracuse University offered observations about the relationship between screen performance and attitudes toward masculinity within American culture.

In conjunction with the Golub/Spero exhibition, curators Katy Kline and Helaine Posner spoke to the MIT Women's League. The artists gave an afternoon talk to an overflow public audience as well as a private walk-through prior to dinner with the Burchard Scholars several weeks later. Spero and Kline were filmed in the exhibition by German educational television for an upcoming program on three American women artists.


Donations from foundations and individuals, some ongoing, totalled $275,235. Support from the Warhol Foundation and the NEA totalling $45,000 for The Masculine Masquerade was credited to the previous fiscal year.


The MIT Permanent Collection acquired 11 works by gift and five by purchase. The Student Loan Art Collection acquired eight works by gift and 12 by purchase. Eight Permanent Collection works were framed, together with 18 from the Student Loan Collection. Seven Permanent Collection works were conserved, including the repainting of Louise Nevelson's Transparent Horizon. Three works were loaned to MIT departments for class purposes. A work on paper by Jim Dine was loaned to the Permanent Collection on a long-term basis; other extended loans are as noted in previous reports. Finally, 17 works, primarily from the Standard Oil Company gift were deaccessioned at auction through Sotheby's, New York.


Katy Kline continued to serve on the Williams College Museum of Art Visiting Committee. She was a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Program, an advisor to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Visual Arts Initiative and evaluated the Johnson Museum at Cornell University on behalf of the American Association of Museums' reaccreditation process. She presented the Skowhegan Prize to Nancy Spero at the Annual Awards Dinner in New York. She was invited by the Association Francaise d'Action Artistique to travel to France for eight days in March to meet with artists and curators of contemporary art in Paris, Brittany and Grenoble.

Ron Platt was invited to serve a two-year term on the Cambridge Arts Council's Public Art Committee. He was a juror for the Kingston Art Gallery's annual nationwide invitational exhibition, and was a visiting critic for year end reviews at both the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Massachusetts College of Art.

Katy Kline

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95