Last week visitors to the ‘future exhibitions’ section of MOCA’s website noticed something unusual: “Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974″ was no longer listed as opening in about a month, on April 8. The new opening date was May 27.
Curated by MOCA’s Philipp Kaiser and UCLA professor Miwon Kwon, MOCA describes “Ends of the Earth” as the first large-scale, “historical-thematic” exhibition to deal broadly with land art. (Kaiser will soon leave MOCA to become the director of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne.) One of the most important earthworks, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative (1969), is in MOCA’s collection. [Image: Cover for the “Ends of the Earth” catalogue. Editor’s note: A previous version of this post included an earlier cover for the exhibition catalogue.]
Late last night, in response to a query from MAN about why the show had been pushed back, MOCA spokesperson Lyn Winter said via email that the delay was, “[t]o give us time to raise additional funds for the exhibition.” Her email offered no further details. It is highly unusual that exhibitions are delayed within roughly a month of opening — and then for just seven weeks. As of publication time, it was not clear what fundraising would take place during that period.
This latest schedule change appears to have been quite sudden: Ten days ago in a spring art season preview, the Los Angeles Times reported that the show was opening on April 8. The change was so abrupt that this morning one section of MOCA’s website still said that “Ends of the Earth” opens on April 8.
The delay and the reason MOCA has given for it raise new questions about the museum’s financial health. Earlier this month Mike Boehm reported in the Los Angeles Times that three top finance officials have left the museum in the last three months. Former MOCA chief executive officer Charles E. Young, who ran the institution after former director Jeremy Strick’s departure and the hiring of New York art dealer Jeffrey Deitch told the Times that “[T]he turnover… begins to look like turmoil.” [Image: Michael Heizer, Double Negative (detail). Image via Flickr user Chris Fullmer.]
The exhibition has been on MOCA’s schedule for years. In 2009, after the museum’s board and philanthropist Eli Broad patched together a rescue plan for the museum, MOCA chief curator Paul Schimmel presented the exhibition to MAN as an example of the museum’s intellectual health. A seemingly slightly different conception of the show was originally expected to go on view in the fall of 2010 and included the commissioning of a work by Christoph Buchel. The most recent press release for the show makes no mention of Buchel.
UPDATE, 5:50pm EDT: This post has been updated here with more details from the museum.