Dia returns home to Chelsea
Director Philippe Vergne wants to "put the voice of the artist back at the centre" of the New York institution
By Kate Taylor. Museums, Issue 208, December 2009
Published online: 25 November 2009
new york. Five years after closing its gallery spaces on West 22nd Street and three years after scrapping its plan to build a museum on the High Line, the Dia Art Foundation announced last month that it was returning to Chelsea—to one of its old addresses, 545 West 22nd Street. Dia will construct a new building on the footprint of the present one, which the foundation owns and currently rents to PaceWildenstein gallery.
Dia has not yet announced a budget or an architectural plan for the new building, but the foundation’s director, Philippe Vergne, told The Art Newspaper that he wants to keep the budget low (“I want resources to be expended on artists,” he said) and the architecture modest. Explaining that the design discussions are complex, he said: “To do a simple building is as complicated as to do a flamboyant one.”
The building will house exhibitions and long-term installations, as well as performances, readings and symposia that will “put the voice of the artist back at the centre of Dia”, said Vergne. He suggested that he wants the Chelsea space to show artists who are less well-known and less canonised than those whose work is in the galleries at Dia:Beacon in upstate New York. “It’s very important that Dia doesn’t become a time capsule of this moment in the late 1960s and 1970s,” he said.
Dan Graham’s “Rooftop Urban Park Project”, 1991, which was originally located on the roof of 548 West 22nd Street—Dia’s former main exhibition space, which it sold in 2007—will be reinstalled on the roof of the new building. Vergne said that there is another piece he wants to install in the building, but that the details haven’t been worked out. “It involves a lot of people,” he said.
In the past two years Dia has presented exhibitions at the Hispanic Society of America in Washington Heights. That collaboration has one more year to go, and Vergne said he might consider extending it, since the new building will not be completed for three years or more. But he added that Dia is also talking with artists about possible projects for the intervening years that are not gallery-based.
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