A Curatorial Roundtable on Audience Engagement with Mark Allen & Adam Lerner

A Curatorial Roundtable on Audience Engagement with Mark Allen & Adam Lerner

On August 3, 2010, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage invited Mark Allen and Adam Lerner to participate in a curatorial roundtable on audience engagement. Allen is the founder and executive director of Machine Project, Los Angeles. He collaborates with artists across disciplines to develop events, workshops, performances, and site-specific installations that blur the boundaries between art and its exhibition spaces and feature hands-on engagement and participation for audiences. As the director and chief animator in the department of structures and fictions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Lerner has engaged the Denver arts community with programming such as “Mixed Taste,” a series of tag-team lectures from experts on seemingly unrelated subjects.

Allen and Lerner each shared examples of their innovations and discussed methods of collaboration, the impact of institutional creativity on surrounding communities, and the utmost seriousness of humor.

Excerpts from the Q&A segment of their roundtable can be found below.

Mark Allen and Adam Lerner, from the “Audience Engagement” curatorial round table, filmed at The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage on August 3, 2010.

“Once you start to move into the space that the museum constructs its identity and brand in, which is public engagement, how signage is constructed, how things are messaged—then […] the voice of the artist and the voice of the institution…the distinction between them becomes unclear.”
—Mark Allen

Mark Allen and Adam Lerner, from the “Audience Engagement” curatorial round table, filmed at The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage on August 3, 2010.

“The art world [is] very, very forgiving in its definition of what an artist is but extremely unforgiving and conservative in the definition of what a [museum] is.”
—Adam Lerner

Mark Allen, from the “Audience Engagement” curatorial round table, filmed at The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage on August 3, 2010.

“I want to work with institutions who [say], ‘This is great! Half of the people have no idea where they’re going. They ended up somewhere they didn’t expect to be and they’re loving it.’”
—Mark Allen

Adam Lerner, from the “Audience Engagement” curatorial round table, filmed at The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage on August 3, 2010.

“Because […] we’re willing to take a chance, people are able to say, ‘Denver is this amazing place.’”
—Adam Lerner

Mark Allen, from the “Audience Engagement” curatorial round table, filmed at The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage on August 3, 2010.

“A lot of it is a trusted environment that informs people and gives them an escape route.”
—Mark Allen

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