Sunday, September 16, 2007

Emily Vey Duke

Dear Mr. Hoone,

I am writing in my capacity as Program Coordinator for Transmedia in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University to register my confusion and dismay over the cancellation of the upcoming Yes Men exhibition at the Warehouse Gallery.

Transmedia is an emerging field that focuses on artists and practices at the interstices of methodologies and disciplines. The Warehouse Gallery under the stewardship of Astria Suparak has provided an invaluable locus for discussion of the ideas that form the core of Transmedia. The upcoming Yes Men exhibition would have provided students with a perfect example of the formal and conceptual underpinnings of Transmedia art-making, and as such I was relying on the show (and its ancillary lectures and screenings) as a focal point for my curriculum this semester. Like a number of other faculty across a range of departments at the school, I find myself scrambling to fill holes in my syllabus in the wake of this decision.

I also understand that there are imminent personnel changes afoot at the Warehouse, and although I don't know exactly what that means, I am alarmed. I have been working closely with Director and Curator Astria Suparak to bring Paul Chan (Transmedia artist recently featured on the cover of Art Forum and in the 2006 Whitney Biennial) to Syracuse, and have been looking forward with great enthusiasm to Suparak's upcoming programming--including the Waliid Ra'ad exhibition that was to accompany his presentation at the 2008 Syracuse University Symposium.

It's absolutely not my intention to second guess internal decision making processes at CMAC. I am aware that there is much I don't understand and don't want to appear to be presumptuous. That said, I would like to share the insights that am privy to due to my position.

I work with all the first year students who enter the new Transmedia program at SU. These students come to the department with virtually no sense of what it means to be an artist in contemporary society, let alone a Transmedia artist. The Warehouse Gallery has been the one and only place in Syracuse that illustrates what that looks like, and Suparak has proven herself to be an excellent translator for my students, shifting information out of the rarefied vernacular of high-art into a language they understand and can invest in. I'm going to be frank: it's hard to persuade young people that contemporary art is important in the world at large, let alone relevant to them personally. Without the model Suparak provides at The Warehouse Gallery, I'll be fighting with one less weapon in my arsenal.

This is how I see The Warehouse Gallery fulfilling it's mission (as stated on the website) of "engag[ing] the community in a dialogue regarding the role the arts can play in illuminating the critical issues of our life and times." My students come away from the programming at the Warehouse challenged but talking. They aren't bored, they aren't alienated--they're excited! The work begun by Suparak at the Warehouse allows me to carry the project of Transmedia at VPA forward, and for that I am grateful.

With my sincere thanks for your time and attention,

Emily Vey Duke
Visiting Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator
Department of Transmedia
College of Visual & Performing Arts
Syracuse University

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Syracuse has lost one its greatest assets. Astria Suparak, Inaugural Director of The Warehouse Gallery of Syracuse University, was removed from her position as of Sept. 30th, 2007, despite widespread support from community members, students, faculty, and the international art community. This decision was made unilaterally by Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC).

At the time of Suparak's dismissal, Hoone also canceled her forthcoming exhibitions, including "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men," due to open in November 2007.