“The ICA exists to challenge the foundations of contemporary art”, this is the pledge, from its new Executive Director Gregor Muir, made in an address to members on Saturday. It has been a turbulent 18 months. The sixty plus-year-old institution has pulled itself up from near bankruptcy with a deficit of £750,000 in 2010 to a healthy looking future outlook. Last year The Arts Council fortunately stepped in, at its lowest ebb with a £1.2million bailout from its emergency Sustain Fund. This allowed the Institute to remain operative with only limited closures on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The main outcome of the crisis was resolved with an ‘all change’ in the upper reaches of administration. Ekow Eshun, Executive Director and Alan Yentob Chairman both resigned. This opened up new opportunities and directions for this important art venue. The first thing that strikes you about the new Director Gregor Muir is his genuine enthusiasm and well-grounded approach to the ICA’s future. Muir was formally the director of Hauser & Wirth, a respected London gallery, promoting both emerging and established artists. This appointment in February should be what’s needed to create a winning combination, merging a commercial and public expertise and applying it to the running of the Institute.
Muir has had prior experience at the ICA, having co-curated the 1997 show “Assuming Positions”. He has also served as a curator of Film and Video at Tate Modern. He looks to be an open and solid Director, just the sort of character to have at the helm. Gone is the air of arrogance that once prevailed at the ICA. It is evident that a new openness exists and the culture of fear has now lifted. It genuinely appears to be an agreeable place to work again.
The ICA is now in a unique position to take on a balanced program of exciting cross media/medium disciplines. The new curator of exhibitions, Matt Williams is also a breath of fresh air for the ICA. Coming from Limoncello, and the Zabludowicz Collection, he is no stranger to the challenges of 21st century curating. Without revealing too much, the program promises to be full of surprises balancing emerging with a few blockbusters thrown in. The ICA had developed a reputation for curating exhibitions and events for curators. Hopefully this will now be a space that a wide variety of users will want to visit.
Since the founding of the ICA in the 1940’s the Institute has experienced a number of changes in the London gallery landscape. Tate Modern and the Serpentine didn’t exist and public interest in contemporary art was a small niche market. London is now second to New York as the world art market leaders and the British public now regularly engage with contemporary art. In order to remain relevant the ICA must continue to capture the 18- 30 demograph in order to secure future audiences for their special brand of events. I am confidant that they are listening and ready to take the Institute into the future. – ArtLyst Photo:© ArtLyst 2011 ICA Team
Gala: Psychedelica @ The ICA 29 March 2011
As part of the celebrations the ICA will be auctioning over 30 original works created by established and emerging artists including Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei, Jake and Dinos Chapman and many more. 15 of these auction lots will be available for bidding on the night. All lots are available for preview from 23-27 March in the Upper Galleries and visitors will be able to place absentee bids in advance.
Nathaniel Mellors Ourhouse 9 March 2011 – 15 May 2011 See listing