Live at the Museum is a series of films in which buskers and other artists perform without permission in front of major museums around the world. The democracy of art and the use of public space are key components of this work. It is an indefinitely ongoing series and while each work stands on its own, they are interconnected through a shared distance to global cultural agendas and a quiet beauty emanating from the covert act of street performance. Live at the Museum is an investigation into the collective and institutional affirmation given to culture, while also functioning as a digital archive to cache the contribution of its participants.
Live at the Museum
Seoul – Culture Station Seoul 284
Seoul – Nat. Museum of Contemporary Art
Seoul – Seoul Museum of Art
Seoul – Total Museum of Contemporary Art
Seoul – Arko Art Center
Seoul – Daelim Contemporary Art Museum
Gwacheon – National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
Tokyo – National Museum of Nature and Science
Tokyo – Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
HONG KONG – Hong Kong Museum of Art
GUANGZHOU – Guangdong Art Gallery
SHENZHEN – Dafen Art Museum
NANJING – Jiangsu Art Gallery
BEIJING – Today Art Museum
SHANGHAI – Shanghai Museum
Taipei – Museum of Contemporary Art
Taipei – Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Chiang Mai – CM University Art Museum
Bangkok – Museum of Contemporary Art
Bangkok – Bangkok University Art Gallery
Bangkok – Bangkok Art & Culture Centre
Ayutthaya – National Art Museum
Sydney – Museum of Contemporary Art
Sydney – Art Gallery of NSW
Hobart – Museum of Old and New Art
Wellington – Wellington City Gallery
VANCOUVER – Vancouver Art Gallery
TORONTO – Royal Ontario Museum
Seattle – Seattle Art Museum
New York – Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Portland – Portland Art Museum
Sacramento – Crocker Art Museum
Berlin – Neue Nationalgalerie
Cologne – Museum Ludwig
Milano – Palazzo Reale Di Milano
Leipzig – Museum der bildenden Künste
About Live at the Museum
The most striking visual aspect of the series is the relationship of the lone-figure of the performer against the backdrop of the often intimidating architectural template of museums, built with displaying hierarchy in mind. These monuments of culture are a built signifier of critical endorsement. In front of them, the performers are generally filmed without an audience, their music or dance is unnoticed. As a viewer, we become an audience of one. The performance takes place for the sole purpose of itself, unseen and unheard by others at the moment, emanating a melancholic, lonely and sometimes joyful experience.
Employing the street performers as well as local videographers and assistants is an important aspect of the series. They are not one homogeneous group, rather they differ vastly, but also share similarities. In scouting the streets performers are chosen with regards to a particular talent or memorability and their relation to each venue or local communities. An arresting example of this process is the trio of buskers performing in front of the Palazzo Reale (“King’s palace”) in Milano, Italy. All three study at the Milan Conservatory, a college of music that in the past two centuries has educated many of Italy’s most important musicians. Stemming from Bulgarian families, commonly attributed as “gypsies”, the members of the trio often become victims of ethnic profiling. Despite their talent, the only chance they see to earn money and support their studies is to illegally perform in public spaces. They regularly have confrontations with police officers while all are simultaneously students at a very prestigious school. While the institutional education takes place indoors, most Italians will primarily notice them for their activities in public space. This process reinforces resentments and the underlying social structure.
All films have been shot without approval or consents of the institutions involved, reminiscent of the Occupy movement. This protest first received wide coverage when starting out on September 17, 2011, in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, just a block away from Wall Street. Similarly to Live at the Museum, a prominent and symbolic place of a public sphere was reclaimed by a local group for a limited period of time. Then, Occupy became international, when just three weeks later protests had taken place or were on-going across 82 countries. So far, Live at the Museum has been filmed in ten different countries on four continents.
Like Occupy, there is also a collaborative worldwide process at play. An open-source approach to the filming process ensures that the films are the product of localized collaboration as they can be shot without the presence of the artist. The series becomes a faster growing and broader proposition than works facilitated under the guise of commission or commercial facilitation.
Live at the Museum seeks to challenge the status quo and to inspire new actions, innovative approaches or even ideas for a new open institution. We might not need more refined forms of commercialism and criticism but instead a wider open participatory discourse about the aspects of democracy, diversification, and participation of art in a broader sense, and the responsibilities and privileges that come along with it, equally discussing microcosms and macrocosms.
By Martin Schulze
Andre Hemer about Live at the Museum
ABOUT ANDRE HEMER
André Hemer (b.1981) is a New Zealand artist who works between a variety of media- interplaying digital interfaces and artifacts, painting, and installation using architectural space. Much of his recent work deals with the idea of creating, copying, and deconstructing archive systems within a visual and digital realm.
He has exhibited widely internationally and was the winner of the influential 2011 National Contemporary Art Award at the Waikato Museum of Art (New Zealand). Hemer is currently based in Sydney, Australia.