Richard Torchia, Director of the Arcadia University Art Gallery, is one of six local contemporary artists invited to participate in a year-long series of seminars and workshops with the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative (PEI). This Curatorial Intensive offers new perspectives, an exchange of ideas, and a structure for reflection and fantasy, as reported by PEI’s Rachel Pastan.
Earlier this summer, the six—including ICA’s Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner—came together to present their wild imaginings to each other and an audience of their peers. Most of their projects were focused on their own home institution, almost as though they had all been asked to imagine an exhibition that would poetically express their museum or gallery’s deepest nature. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Adelina Vlas, for example, contemplated reorganizing her museum’s historical rooms via a contemporary sensibility, an idea that came to her while walking through them between her far flung office and the rest of the contemporary department. Arcadia University’s Richard Torchia has been dreaming of the gravitational force a painting like Poussin’s “Et in Arcadia ego” might have, drawing tides of passionate audiences out to suburban Glenside. Temple Contemporary’s Rob Blackson talked about how public programming is becoming a new form of exhibition-making, and he seems to be bringing the dream of turning his gallery into a space for conversation and interaction quickly to life.
ICA’s own Ingrid Schaffner took the invitation to dream as an opportunity to consider how to mark ICA’s 50th anniversary, which will—incredibly—be upon us next year. Wary of the dangers of nostalgia and self-congratulation common to such occasions, Ingrid has conceived a series of micro-exhibitions—new presentations based on or inspired by important exhibitions from ICA’s past. In this way the past becomes not a fetish but a springboard, a catalyst, a point of departure.