The Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (Macba) “must become a necessary museum, an indispensable component of the life of citizens. It has to be a place where memorable things happen and where people, workers and users are cared for. We want to build the Macba of affection and care ”. With these words Elvira Dyangani Ose (Córdoba, 47 years old) defined the museum, of which she was appointed director last Thursday, during her first appearance in Barcelona, early this morning.
Elvira Dyangani came to the event surrounded by women, according to her own definition, “intelligent and decisive”: the mayor Ada Colau, the Minister of Culture of the Generalitat, Natàlia Garriga, the president of the Macba Foundation, Ainhoa Grandes and María Dolores Jiménez- Blanco, director of Fine Arts, who spoke from Madrid. They all celebrated his arrival and his project. Colau highlighted “the recovery of memory, minority cultures and synergy with the city at a time of creative crisis.” Garriga assured that “in Catalonia women move culture” and Grandes emphasized “their knowledge of the museum’s geographical and temporal framework and the optimism and dynamism with which it faces its next expansion.”
Criticism of the dismissals of Tanya Barson, chief curator and Pablo Martínez, head of public programs, and changes in the museum’s governance structure and organizational chart, did not scare Dyangani. The director wasted strength, enthusiasm, confidence and frankness, answering concisely and clearly to all the questions, even those related to the recent controversies, which perhaps should have been answered by the representatives of the Consortium.
Finally, the feared protest in front of the museum that had been proposed through social networks, did not materialize, although the concern of the artistic community for the restructuring of the museum’s departments centered the meeting. In this regard, Dyangani was blunt. “I am the director and as such responsible for the contents and the story of the museum. I will work in collaboration with the manager, but I will not be subject to his decisions ”. In this way he responded to the statement that appeared yesterday on the networks and signed so far by 700 artists, curators and cultural managers. The note rejects the structural changes of the museum, ensuring that these are disastrous measures for its operation, because they place the entire content area under the responsibility of the manager.
“We are starting a new stage and there will be changes. The organization chart is something alive, in constant readjustment. We are working with the bodies that make up the Consortium (Barcelona City Council, Generalitat de Catalunya, Ministry of Culture and Sports and Macba Foundation) to design an organization chart that can favor the success of the program for which I was chosen ”, continued Dyangani, letting it be understood that there may be more changes and that they will be made “from dialogue and affection”.
I am the director and as such responsible for the content and the story of the museum. I will work in collaboration with the manager, but I will not be subject to his decisions
Elvira Dyangani Ose
The director did not deny that “things could have been done much better”, in relation to the dismissals reported by burofax, just a few days before its presentation, when the museum itself claimed to be working on the restructuring since last October. It was also an open secret that Tanya Barson had been negotiating her exit for months. “These decisions are always difficult. The changes were approved to improve the structure of Macba and smooth the way for the new director, who has the right to form her team ”, stressed the manager, Josep Maria Carreté. For her part, Ada Colau did not miss an opportunity to repeat that the topic was Dyangani’s presentation, without explaining why the changes to the organization chart were not communicated in due time and in the proper forms.
Dyangani presented the new Macba project only in broad lines and excused himself, explaining that he had not yet been able to share it with the museum team and only after doing so would he communicate it publicly. “I have a huge desire to work with the team and I want to take care of it,” said Dyangani, the first woman to run the center in her 26 years of life, although the vast majority of its workers have always been women.
As already happened in the presentation of the outgoing director, Ferran Barenblit, there was talk of the rebirth and resurgence of the Macba. “We must believe in the institutional rather than in the institution, starting with an ecology of art based on alliances, agreements and the reactivation of a non-hierarchical network that brings together the different centers and agents dedicated to contemporary art,” said Dyangani, who is committed to for a transversal, transcultural, transgenerational and transdisciplinary museum. “You have to study and take advantage of the history of Macba, but also overcome it. We must renew forms and discourses, review our ability to create new audiences and maintain the public in the long term, “continued the director, underlining that” innovating means conspiring new narratives. “
Why, for whom and how, are the questions that were formulated to design the project of an organic, accessible, transparent, inclusive and necessary museum, where attention is paid to the individuality of the user and their wishes and objectives are accommodated, belonging is encouraged and the international scene is accessed from a vernacular context; where radical pedagogy, critical research is practiced and projects of all scales are carried out. “I feel absolutely prepared to face these challenges,” concluded the director.