Thursday, December 6, 2007


During the hiring process for the position of Director of Arts Programming in May 2006, I submitted several pages of curated, group exhibition proposals that detailed the ideas, issues, and artists that I wished to work with. These exhibition proposals, along with my curatorial history, resume, and website, were reviewed and discussed during the hiring process. The overall response from the hiring committee to my exhibition proposals was that they were integral to the eight-person committee's unanimous decision to hire me. All of the exhibitions I curated for the gallery were drawn from this original list. I clearly expressed the direction I wanted to take this new organization, which I named The Warehouse Gallery, and the exhibitions that I would organize there. I fulfilled what I set out to do. Mr. Hoone recently stated to a journalist that my programming was a reason for my dismissal (this after weeks of claiming I was laid off for "organizational restructuring", and then for "confidential personnel issue"), although it is this same programming that was a major factor in my hiring.

After I included artist duo and Syracuse University Transmedia faculty members Duke and Battersby in the Faux Naturel group exhibition (which was reviewed in a major international art magazine and toured to a Canadian university), Mr. Hoone mandated that The Warehouse Gallery would no longer include Syracuse University faculty or student work.

Mr. Hoone also stated a desire for solo exhibitions. I explained that I wanted to spend the inaugural year developing and refining the new organization's operation and exhibition procedures, hiring staff, and building the gallery's reputation before approaching accomplished and emerging artists for solo shows. Also, many established artists are booked years in advance. Over the course of my first year, I began correspondence with several prominent artists about solo exhibitions. On July 1, 2007, six out of eight exhibitions that I proposed for the next two years were solo shows, featuring Paul Chan, Natalie Jeremijenko, Nina Katchadourian, Walid Raad and the Yes Men, among others. These exhibitions would have fulfilled the gallery's mission by "illuminating the critical issues of our life and times," including social justice, corporate inhumanity, cultural identity, environmental contamination, militarization, and systems of language and organization. Mr. Hoone expressed personal disinterest in many of the artists I proposed, and described these proposals as "too dense" and too similar, implying they were overly complex and academic. This response contradicted his earlier criticism that the previous exhibitions were "more style than substance." According to visitor testimonials and press reviews, most would disagree with his opinion.

When asked for a written statement clarifying the reasons for my layoff and the cancellation of the first-ever solo exhibition by internationally-acclaimed, anti-corporate artists the Yes Men, Mr. Hoone responded by saying he "determined that there was not enough continuity to effectively proceed with the Yes Men exhibition at this time." Within hours, Mr. Hoone asked for all of my correspondence and exhibition plans with the Yes Men. That is, in the face of mounting faculty pressure in support of my curatorial practice and the Yes Men exhibition, Mr. Hoone backtracked on his decision to cancel my Yes Men exhibition and attempted to continue the show without my involvement. The Yes Men, whose work focuses on social injustice and corporate malpractice, refused Hoone's turncoat overture to exhibit without my participation. They stated that they didn't trust Mr. Hoone or his organization. Furthermore, Mr. Hoone mislead people about the exhibition's cancellation, by blaming me, and then the artists, for what was his initial decision.

When Mr. Hoone laid me off, I had to personally contact all of the artists with whom I had been making exhibition plans for the next two years to tell them that the shows were cancelled, which was extremely distressing. This not only compromised my integrity as a curator, but also the integrity and reputations of the gallery, CMAC, and Syracuse University.

No comments:


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.