Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Christian Boltanski, and Others Condemn the Firing of a ‘Too Demanding’ Museum Director

More than 50 luminaries signed a letter in a support of the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux's María Inés Rodríguez

The Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux's María Inés Rodríguez.

María Inés Rodríguez, the director of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, was called into a town hall meeting last Tuesday, March 6, during which she was informed that her artistic program was “too demanding” and she was being let go.

The museum, also known as CAPC, has issued a statement citing Rodriguez’s “managerial difficulties” and reaffirming its commitment to contemporary art. But a group of more than 50 art world luminaries, including Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Christian Boltanski, have now signed an open letter condemning Rodriguez’s forthcoming dismissal, published in the newspaper Libération on March 9.

There have reportedly been some complaints from staff about Rodriguez in the past, but she was nevertheless reappointed to her position at the head of museum last year, and was expected to serve another three-year term. However, the city’s deputy mayor for culture, Fabien Robert, recently announced that a new committee, chaired by former French prime minister Alain Juppé, would rethink the museum’s mission and recruit a new director. Rodriguez’s termination date has yet to be determined.

The full letter appears below in a translation by artnet News.

On Thursday, March 8, International Day of Women’s Rights, we learned through the press of the forthcoming eviction of María Inés Rodríguez from the direction of CAPC, Bordeaux’s contemporary art museum. The number of women directors and presidents at the head of French cultural institutions is so low that this announcement marks a further regression of parity in the male-dominated French art world.

The announced dismissal of this excellent professional, a curator internationally recognized for her curiosity, the relevance of her programming and the quality of her hangings, stupefies us.

María Inés Rodríguez relaunched the dynamism of CAPC with retrospectives devoted to Beatriz Gonzalez, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Judy Chicago and Franz Erhard Walther, winner of the Golden Lion in Venice in 2017. She gave a prominent place to the museum’s exceptional collection, which is permanently on view to the public. Since her appointment in 2013, she has benefited from the unfailing support of the “friends of CAPC” and managed to develop sponsorship, an important criterion for the success of museum managers now that public funding is so scarce.

The recent statements, as reported in Rue89 Bordeaux, of Bordeaux’s deputy mayor in charge of culture, Fabien Robert, who is openly asking whether “contemporary art still exists” and saying that he hopes the CAPC will become a publicity “showcase” for the city, worry us. He told Libération that “there is a CAPC issue,” and that he has been “visiting places for months, doing sourcing, doing benchmarking, to set directions.”

We are art professionals, we love museums and the public. The transmission of the joy and the intelligence of the works to the greatest number is, in our eyes, an essential concern. We are revolted to see that, over the years, from one director of the CAPC to another, the same problems arise: continuous pressure on the museum direction that is suffocated by the municipal board, lack of institutional support, and weakening of financial means. The CAPC is rich with prestigious history that matters in the international art landscape. It would be tragic to let short-sighted political intentions bring it to an end.

Through this letter, we affirm our attachment to the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux and the programming of its director. And we allow ourselves to challenge the Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen, on the important issue for contemporary art going on in Bordeaux.

First signatures:

Nick Aikens, Curator, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven;

Magali Arriola, Commissioner Kadist Foundation, San Francisco;

Xabier Arakistain, Independent Commissioner, Bilbao;

Leonor Antunes, Artist;

Colette Barbier, Director Ricard Corporate Foundation, Paris;

Virginie Bobin, curator, Paris;

Christian Boltanski, Artist;

Marie-Laure Bernadac, Honorary Conservative General;

Etienne Bernard, Gateway Director Center for Contemporary Art, Brest;

Lionel Bovier, Director of Mamco, Geneva;

Caroline Bourgeois, Curator, Pinault Collection, Paris;

Aurore Claverie, artistic director of La Métive;

Anne Davidian, curator;

Florence Derieux, Exhibition Director, Hauser & Wirth, New York;

Patricia Falguières, Professor, School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences, Paris;

Elena Filipovic, Director, Kunsthalle Basel;

Juan Gaitan, Director of the Tamayo Museum, Mexico City;

Katya García-Antón, Director, OCA, Oslo;

Marta Gili, Director, Jeu de Paume, Paris;

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Artist, Paris;

Catherine Grenier, Director, Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation, Paris;

Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome;

Barbara Hernandez, Director School Soma, Mexico;

Sofía Hernandez Chong Cuy, Director, Witte de With, Rotterdam;  

Evelyne Jouanno, Director Ars Citizen, San Francisco;

Emma Lavigne, Director Center Pompidou-Metz;

Elisabeth Lebovici, Critique of Art, Paris;

Pablo Leon de la Barra, Curator, Latin America, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, New York;

Eric Mangion, Director of the Art Center of Villa Arson, Nice;

Stéphanie Moisdon, Co-director of the Consortium, Center for Contemporary Art in Dijon. and head of the Visual Arts Master of the Cantonal Art School of Lausanne (ECAL);

Claire Moulène, Curator, Palais de Tokyo, Paris;

Ramiro Martinez, Director Museo Ampara, Puebla;

Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern, London;

Sandra Patron, Director of the Regional Museum of Contemporary Art Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée;

Adriano Pedrosa, Artistic Director, MASP, Museu de Arte, São Paulo;

Agustin Perez Rubio. MALBA Artistic Director, Buenos Aires. Argentina;

Jean Marc Prévost, Director of Carré d’Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Nîmes;

François Quintin, Deputy Director, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris;

Valentin Rodriguez, Director of Collections, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse;

Ute Meta Bauer, Director, NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore;

Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Independent Commissioner, Paris;

Krist Gruijthuijsen, Director, Kunst-Werke, Berlin;

Octavio Zaya, Art Critic and Independent Commissioner, New York;

Vivian Sky Rehberg, Director Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam;

Annabelle Teneze, Director, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse;

Sandra Terdjman, Co-Director, Council, Paris;

Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Director Serpentine Gallery, London;

Giovanna Zapperi, Professor, University of Tours;

Xavier Franceschi, FRAC Ile-de-France Director;

Olivier Michelon, Curator of Heritage;

Claire Le Restif, Director of the Contemporary Art Center of Ivry-le Crédac

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