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Press Releases Walker Art Center Launches New Online Collections Catalogue with Volume 1: On Performativity

MINNEAPOLIS, June 30 2014—The Walker Art Center announces the launch of the Living Collections Catalogue, a new online publishing platform dedicated to scholarly research on its renowned multidisciplinary collections. This web-based project is an on-going serial publication that replaces the traditional printed collections catalogues of the past. As a dynamic form of publication, the Catalogue will allow the Walker greater flexibility to dive more deeply into its collections and build new thinking around and connections amongst its diverse holdings, with free and easy access for scholars, researchers, and the public around the world.

Using a design framework that responds to a range of digital devices—whether a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet computer—the Living Collections Catalogue provides scholars and enthusiasts access to unique documents, original interpretation, and rich media resources about select artworks from its holdings. Each volume in the series will explore a unique aspect of the Walker’s collections, reflecting the multidisciplinary interests and editorial perspectives of the institution’s curators.

The first volume, On Performativity, explores performance-based work in the Walker’s collections and its relationship to the visual arts. Commissioned essays by scholars Philip Auslander, Shannon Jackson, and Dorothea von Hantelmann frame a broader consideration of performance in contemporary art, while essays by Elizabeth Carpenter, Eric Crosby, Peter Eleey, Bartholomew Ryan, and Irene Small examine individual works in the Walker’s collections. Throughout the volume, multimedia assets supplement in-depth essays on artworks such as: the drawings of legendary choreographer Trisha Brown, an artist whose work involves both dance and the visual arts; a seminal installation by artist Hélio Oiticica and filmmaker Neville D’Almedia that integrates musical soundtrack, multiple slide projections, and the interaction of viewers in a new kind of cinematic space; Naked, a live, in-gallery, durational performance by movement artists Eiko & Koma commissioned by the Walker; the pioneering, constructed situations of artist Tino Sehgal; and an Anthropometry painting by Yves Klein, who used live models covered in his signature blue pigment as “living paintbrushes.” In addition to in-depth analyses of these influential works, the volume poses critical questions about the evolving relationship between performance, institutions like the Walker, and the future of collecting.

Future volumes in the Living Collections Catalogue include Art Expanded, 1958-1978, which examines the radical transformations of art and artistic practices in the 1960s and 1970s and draws extensively upon the Walker’s archives and renowned Fluxus collection; and an exploration of the Walker’s groundbreaking acquisition of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection, a trove of stage sets, props, costumes, and other artifacts created in collaboration with artists and designers.

The Living Collections Catalogue furthers the Walker’s dedication to innovative technologies and publishing strategies that redefine how museums disseminate research and information related to their collections. “When the Walker launched its groundbreaking website in 2011, we helped pave the way for museums to think of the web as a publishing platform and a hub for the exchange of ideas,” explained Andrew Blauvelt, Senior Curator, Design, Research, and Publishing. “With the Living Collections Catalogue we’re deepening our commitment to publishing by connecting the art we collect to the larger world of ideas and the issues that animate both curatorial practice and artistic practice.”


The interactive framework of the catalogue was designed and developed by the Walker’s award-winning, in-house publications, design, and new media departments led by Emmet Byrne, Design Director, and Robin Dowden, Head of Technology and Director of New Media Initiatives. “From the outset, the Walker’s Living Collections Catalogue has been a cross-departmental initiative conceived by curatorial, publications, and new media staff,” said Robin Dowden, the Walker project lead. “As a living publication, success of the Walker’s project is first and foremost tied to our ability to sustain it. We are redefining what we mean by collections, changing our documentation systems and processes, and instituting a new publications series that will remain part of our schedule in perpetuity. Striking a balance between systematizing ongoing catalogue production and creating a flexible platform for feature development remains a primary goal for the team, as new research and an evolving understanding of digital publishing continue to inform the project.”


The Living Collections Catalogue is made possible by grants from the Getty Foundation as part of its Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI). Launched in 2009, this initiative is a partnership of nine major art institutions in the U.S. and U.K. working together to make the transition from print catalogues to widely accessible online publications for the digital age. The tools developed and lessons learned from the OSCI collaboration are openly shared by the Getty Foundation with the museum community. Partnering OSCI institutions, in addition to the Walker, are the Art Institute of Chicago, the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and Tate.

Since becoming a multidisciplinary art center 75 years ago, the Walker has been dedicated to presenting and collecting contemporary art across disciplines. Recent years have seen the development of new approaches to acquisitions in the areas of visual art, performing art, film/video, and design. With the launch of the Living Collections Catalogue, the Walker aims to redefine how public information related to these multidisciplinary holdings is generated, assembled, and presented to a wider online audience.

On Performativity, the Walker Art Center’s first volume of the Living Collections Catalogue, viewed on a tablet.

Images courtesy the Walker Art Center.