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MOCA's manifesto on contemporary art

Philippe Vergne, the new director of MOCA, issues a call to arms for art institutions to embrace the moment

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As part of our new summer US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day.

To kick it off, LA's Museum of Contemporary Art are showcasing their view on US visual culture, with local net artist Petra Cortright's Tags For Likes, which debuted at their monthly MOCAtv screening. Elsewhere, check out our interview with Petra and our look at the history of this incredible museum and platform. Here, Philippe Vergne, the head of MOCA, offers us a manifesto on why the contemporary art museum is such a vital thing. 

Contemporary means to be with our time. A contemporary art museum is a museum of our time and therefore has to be dedicated to and defined by the arts that articulate our time.  

A contemporary art museum must address the forms, the ideas, and the questions that will, in the years to come, represent who we are today.  It is how we share their complexity and eventually our inability to fully understand the aesthetic innovations that will deeply affect our understanding of art. Art changed when it became an assault against conventions and canons - a museum of contemporary art fosters such assaults. 

Let's expand without walls, let's expand our missions, let's expand our independence, let's expand our support of artists. 

To be a museum of contemporary art means to focus on art, not on culture. The artist Carl Andre said, “Art is what we do; culture is what is done to us.” 

To be a museum of contemporary art means that we have to amaze the vision more than the eyes. 

To be a museum of contemporary art means that we have to turn the artist’s dreams into responsibilities - toward them and toward the viewers.  A museum of contemporary art can only exist in dialogue with artists. They guide the vision. 

In a world where success is measured by commercial and transactional protocols, a museum of contemporary art has to be an antidote. If success is measured by the "door,” then remove the door. If success is measured by the quantity of transactions, then let the museum be the place for intellectual transactions. If success is measured by brick and mortar expansions, size of facilities, then let's expand without walls, let's expand our missions, let's expand our independence, let's expand our support of artists. 

A museum of contemporary art has to be beyond its walls, as one cannot contain what one does not know; one cannot contain what is yet to come. 

A museum of and for "now" is a broadcaster in time and space. 

A museum of contemporary should seed art practices that might not be containable by conventional architecture, physical or intellectual, that very likely will generate more of the same. 

A museum of contemporary art is is the location for innovation, experimentation and conversation. It is where ideas break open.

A museum of contemporary art is a factory of clouds and imagination; a place where time and spaces are liberated, freed from conventional wisdom. Not a place for transgression nor dissension, but a way of trespassing: a passage. 

A museum of contemporary art is neither populist nor elitist. It is the location for innovation, experimentation and conversation. It is where ideas break open. It is place of accretion for which simultaneity defies accumulation and succession; it is a public place not a box, not a white cube, born from and for relationships between objects, ideas, projects, individuals and communities. 

A museum of contemporary art is an ideal where great art meets great patronage and the other way around.  It is a "no man's time" for courage and audacity. 

In a museum of contemporary art one is entertained by the jubilation of the mind. In such an institution the lust of the eyes is a civic value. 

In a museum of contemporary art histories are written through the arts, through artists' voices, before becoming art history, before becoming culture. 

A contemporary art museum is a museum of our time that might paradoxically contradict its time. 

Check out LA artist Petra Cortright's awesome new MOCAtv video below:

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