The public presentation of Elvira Dyangani (Córdoba, 1974) as the new MACBA director had been planned since the celebration and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, opened the meeting with an inspiring: “Today is a beautiful day.” It was the best welcome to the “brave” project that Dyangani presented to the competition as the head of one of the contemporary art centers most vulnerable to political interference. It is received with all the illusion and with an organization chart in which its power has been kept to a minimum, as has been advanced by elDiario.es.
The mayor highlighted several issues in her initial speech, although the main one was that we witnessed times of change in the institution. He was not referring only to the content that the museum must link to the neighborhood, but to the autonomy of the artistic manager. Colau has asked Dyangani, the first female director of MACBA, to be daring in her program and in her proposals, not to be intimidated because she will have his support to develop them and that of the Foundation and the management “to work with total independence.” This errand was not for the newcomer.
At the opposite end to the new director sat Ainhoa Grandes, president of the MACBA Foundation. The widow of Leopoldo Rodés is the head of the new organization chart, in which the framework of action and power of the managing director, Josep María Carreté, is expanded. The structure was approved on Thursday of last week, in the same plenary session in which it was decided to appoint Dyangani as director. The joy of the appointment turned into disappointment when it was learned that MACBA began by neglecting the role of the new director to develop a new structure without taking into account the project of the future of the center.
The director, who will take up her duties in September, has been very clear about this: “The organization chart is a living aspect of the museum and we have already started working to make it respond to the project that won the call. It will adapt to whatever is necessary to bring the program to fruition, “said Dyangani of the mission he has planned for the institution. She has shown that she was not satisfied with the weakened position that has been found before taking office and has clarified that she does not respond to the manager: “I presented myself to the position and I am the director. All the departments that have to do with the contents they affect me and Josep María [Carreter] it will help me with the technical execution. It is not above my role, “he added to emphasize that the internal governance model must be rethought.” We will present an organization chart that will respond to the project that I have presented, “he has settled.
Lola Jiménez Blanco, General Director of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture, has also insisted on that “endorsement and support” that Colau has offered to the newcomer: “The Ministry will have the best disposition for the director to comply with the MACBA project that he presented to us “. All the interventions spoke of Grandes without mentioning her. The head of the Foundation welcomed Dyangani praising his energy and described his project as “solid”. “It is a project that recognizes visitors and that speaks of a more accessible MACBA. We are very motivated by your participation. It is a turning point in the museum and you will be the main protagonist,” he told the director.
Will Ainhoa Grandes be willing to accept the rectification proposed by Dyangani to fulfill its project? In response to elDiario.es, the president of the MACBA Foundation agreed that “the organization chart is not an immovable and rigid thing.” However, he has qualified this sentence: “Whatever has to be reviewed will be reviewed and it will be passed through the General Council again. I am in favor of dialogue and creating the best possible organization,” Grandes has assured despite having designed it without having the direction. “It is an organization that has been done in the best possible way and will be adapted to the project that Elvira brings,” he acknowledged. It has not clarified the reason why the organization chart was reviewed before the arrival of the director, to be reviewed again when she takes office.
The press conference has clarified that the political part (Barcelona en Comú) celebrates the new director and that the Foundation applauds the new organization chart. As the dismissed Pablo Martínez pointed out to this newspaper, the battle in museums is over structure, not over content. Dyangani has been brave in admitting that in the last week the museum “could have done things better”, referring not only to the alteration of the structure without his participation, but to the dismissal of Pablo Martínez and Tanya Barson. And he has confronted these forms with the idea that he intends to implant in the institution: the MACBA of affections.
This proposal will recover the Independent Studies Program (PEI) that Pablo Martínez developed for months, together with Yayo Herrero and Marina Garcés. Elvira Dyangani has regretted the transfer of the first and the resignation of the anthropologist and the philosopher. He has advanced that in the MACBA of affections this situation will not be repeated. “It will be a museum for the clueless, skaters, tourists, etc”, said the director. He has also described his idea of MACBA as “a critical place”, in which the cultural context is the origin of the institution, “a local institution” with an interest in “renewing international museum formulas and discourses”. “From the hyperlocal to the international”, has specified. He indicated as key dates on which to build the discourse the fall of the Berlin Wall, the entry of Spain into the EU, the declaration of the war against terrorism in 2011 and the current neoliberal panorama. On the other side Ainhoa Grandes was listening. Finally Elvira Dyangani has vindicated the institutional role over the institution.