flat earthers and people who doubt if the comic is an art

Updated:22/11/2020 00:14h


Nuria Enguita, the new director of the IVAM has granted an interview where she talks about the future of the Valencian museum; and his statements have succeeded in sowing in me a feeling of great unease. To understand why, it is necessary to cite, albeit briefly, one of the main achievements of its predecessor.

José Miguel G. Cortés, the outgoing director, introduces comics to the museum as one of his most innovative and avant-garde ways of working. Thus, he joined an international trend that starts the Parisian Louvre Museum; whose main lines of action consist of creating its own collection of comics, and opening the museum rooms to the ninth art.

Thus culminates a long journey started at the end of the 60s, and it was demonstrated de facto that the comic is an art; and as such, it becomes a museum object in its own right.

To this trend are added museums from all over the world such as the Orsay, Pompidou, Thyssen-Bornemisza, MNAC, Prado, MNARS, British Museum, MOMA, Picasso de Paris, Rijksmuseum, and much more.

José Miguel G. Cortés programs, among others, the exhibitions VLC, Valencia Línea Clara and El Drawn by Paco Roca, which are among the exhibitions that receive the greatest number of visitors during his tenure at the head of IVAM.

Nuria Enguita – ABC

Perhaps for this reason, in the interview, the new director is asked about the future of comics in the museum under her mandate; and it is at that moment, when Nuria Enguita, shows not to know at all the consolidated international tendency of the great art centers regarding comics.

Enguita, I quote verbatim, states that: «The mission of this museum [el IVAM] it is contemporary art. The question would be if the comic is art. I would be very interested if there were places where research on comics, on design, on photography, etc. There must be institutions where that is possible. Is the comic going to be in this museum? I’ll have to see it in the context of programming and collection. “

As I was reading this answer, a veritable volcano of sensations that ranged from anger to astonishment exploded within me.

It is not difficult to see that comics, photography, and design [el industrial]These are the 3 most innovative lines of work that its predecessor had introduced; and the statement that “there should be places that deal with them”, the only thing that makes it clear is that the IVAM is not necessarily one of them.

Work of the Crónica Team
Work of the Crónica Team

Understand me, it is perfectly legal for a new manager to propose a different approach to that of his predecessor when he becomes the director of a museum; But let me tell you that this statement awakens old ghosts in me that remind me of a practice that I have seen too many times in other centers and that I find abominable; Incoming managers pursue a scorched earth policy relative to the achievements of their predecessor.

Among the collateral damage it seems that the comic will be there; to whom I sense a very black future within the Valencian museum. It is clear that it is not an issue that is among Enguita’s priorities, since from its statements, it is deduced that it has not yet addressed it.

He states in the interview that “It is planned to work from the collection, and that there are great artists in the collection.” And he is right. What I don’t know if he is aware is that, among the IVAM funds, there are comics made by El Equipo Crónica, Equipo Realidad, Iturralde, Manuel de Rodrigo; or the acquisitions made during the mandate of Cortés of work of Miguel Calatayud, Daniel Torres or Paco Roca. To this, we must add the “fanzinoteca”, an extremely interesting project, whose future is equally uncertain.

Installation of Roy Lichtenstein’s “Drowning Girl” from the MoMA collection in a museum in Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria – NGVMelbourne

Now do you understand the reason for my unease? The stakes are high!

For this reason, I hope and wish that the current director promptly makes some statements where she explains more explicitly the role that art is going to play in her project. From here, I anticipate that if he is excluded, a great opportunity will be lost, abandoning a line of work in which the Valencian museum has been a pioneer.

Finally, if you will allow me, I would like to end this article by self-citing. As a historian of comics and curator of exhibitions in this discipline, I have been asked on many occasions whether I consider comics to be an art. After doing didactics on the subject for years (in this same text it is briefly explained why the answer is a resounding “YES”), I decided to change my strategy and always respond in the same way: “In the 21st century there are flat Earthers and people who doubt if the comic is an art. Well … it’s true, there are a lot of people like that. But the answer in both cases is so obvious, and with such overwhelming evidence, that I no longer respond to that. ”

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