Statement by Massimiliano Gioni

My first encounter with museum in progress must date to 1998 or 1997, probably at the time of a trip to Vienna, I don’t recall. But I do remember those foldable brochures, and particularly the ones on Kara Walker and Rirkrit Tiravanija, with interviews by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, whom around that time I had approached via email (on his address I believe) to ask him about translating to Italian some excerpts from his book of writings by Gilbert and George, which had been published in 1997 or so. With his typical generosity Hans-Ulrich not only agreed to the translation, but he started sharing materials on museum in progress, and shortly after I was publishing his interviews in Italian on a short-lived internet magazine called Trax, under the heading: “It’s a Museum in Progress Production”. I was 24 and for the first time I had the sense of possibly being part of an international art community. You could say museum in progress gave me my first taste of globalization.

In 1999 Hans-Ulrich and museum in progress invited me to contribute to an exhibition series in Der Standard, and that was one of the first international platforms that was offered to me, for which I will be forever grateful. But museum in progress left a deeper mark on my own work, because the idea of a nomadic institution, without a fixed exhibition venue, strongly influenced my conception of the program of the Trussardi Foundation, which I started directing in 2003 in Milan. From museum in progress I had learnt that museums are first and foremost software, not hardware, and that idea is still much more contemporary and effective than ever. It is quite interesting to think that I were to encounter museum in progress the very same year in which the Guggenheim Bilbao opened. And while the Guggenheim Bilbao is probably better known today, for me museum in progress will always mark the path to the future.