Ellen Rothenberg, East, 2005. Courtesy of the artist.

Ellen Rothenberg, East, 2005. Courtesy of the artist.

My vote for most unintentionally puzzling press release issued by an otherwise savvy museum press office? Gotta be the MCA Chicago’s email blast for Hide and Seek, a new exhibition (on view from October 20 – November 13, 2009) that’s a playful attempt to engage visitors with objects from the Museum’s permanent collection in new and creative ways.

The idea, says the MCA, is:

“to challenge viewers’ expectations and ideas of what art is and where it can be placed. Visitors have unexpected encounters with works of art that appear “hidden” in plain view throughout the MCA. A guide at the admissions desk offers a series of clues to assist with locating the art.”

So, o.k., it’s a bit on the corny side, but I happen to like corny, and I’m totally behind the MCA’s ongoing attempts to make people look at their collections differently (or at all). But I groaned out loud when I read further down the release, which proceeds to cheerily GIVE THE HIDING SPOTS AWAY. OK, maybe they don’t give out the exact locations of the artworks, but they tell you pretty specifically in which area of the museum each artists’ work can be found. Just in case, you know, we’re ultimately too stupid or lazy to hunt them down on our own. Where’s the fun in that? I mean, I know it’s a press release geared towards blase media folks who probably aren’t going to engage in this particular scavenger hunt, but still – it’s not like we needed to have the answers fed to us ahead of time, unless we wanted to ruin the concept for everyone else.  And who knows – I may very well have wanted to play their little game, if I was in the right mood and had some time on my hands. You never know.

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.