The Institute of Modern Art (IMA) is one of Australia’s oldest independent art galleries. Its original mission from 1975 was to foster research and experimentation by Australian and international artists through exhibitions and publishing, and to educate the public about contemporary art.
IMA emerged at a time when artists were mounting a critique of art institutions in the 1970s. It was an opportunity to imagine what a new, non-collecting space for contemporary art in Australia might look like. Within a couple of decades, the critique of art institutions had been well and truly absorbed by curators and institutions themselves. But are art institutions still subject to re-evaluation and even transformation? How might we reimagine and redefine the contemporary art institution in our current decade, a time of great change for both contemporary art and the spaces it’s exhibited in?
To mark our fortieth anniversary, the IMA embarked on a year-long project, Imaginary Accord, which explores this institution’s historical mission, while imagining what it could mean today and for the future, through an exhibition, a lecture series, a symposium, and a publication. The title suggests that the connection between each artwork, idea, and participant lies initially in the imagination of the curator and artists and finds new form in the minds of audiences.
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