Whenever somebody writes the Jeffrey Deitch-MOCA biopic (opera?), the final act will turn on the disco show. Media leaks turned “Fire in the Disco,” Deitch’s scheme of recreating famous discos in a MOCA exhibition, into a meme. “When I heard about that disco show I had to read it twice,” said John Baldessari. “At first I thought ‘this is a joke’ but I realized, no, this is serious.”
It’s still serious. Since leaving MOCA, Deitch has continued to talk of the disco show (to be curated by electronic musician James Murphy). In October Deitch told the Brooklyn Rail
“I am developing a disco exhibition that will be a combination of an educational experience and a completely immersive club or festival experience. I hope to combine the two, in a way that museums have been heading toward, but that has never been quite realized to this extent, where people will dance in the middle of the exhibition.”
Last November, Deitch realized a proof of concept in “AREA: The Exhibition,” a five-night pop-up recreation of the old AREA nightclub at The Hole, the New York gallery, and other Manhattan sites. The write-up for the exhibition name-checks the many artists who created original work for AREA (click here for the only known photo of Michael Heizer, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, and Leroy Nieman in proximity). The art and disco connection is not so entirely tenuous as you might assume.
That granted, the question isn’t, is disco worthy of an art museum show? Nor is it are social experiences art? Museum directors face a more difficult puzzle: Is a disco show the best thing an art museum can be doing with its finite resources?
(Photos of “AREA: The Exhibition” by Elise Gallant at purple Diary.)