[Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries, reel 85; Ray Price]

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Kartemquin Films interviews Raymon Price, Curator at the DuSable Museum of African American History, about the Spertus Museum of Judaica's 1992 exhibition "Bridges and Boundaries," which was originally intended to be a joint exhibition with DuSable. In this tape, Price talks about how the exhibition might have been different with his involvement, and speculations about the potential for the project as a whole that Price feels went unmet.

0:00Copy video clip URL Color bars and tone.

0:30Copy video clip URL The video starts mid-conversation. Raymon Price says the project felt more retrospective and didn’t have an “immediacy” that he was hoping for. He says that even today, the decisions of Jewish art management can have an undesirable effect on Black artists.

2:41Copy video clip URL Blumenthal talks a little about how he believes Morrie Fred was trying to approach the exhibition, and says that Fred “was trying to create that spark with this show. You know, sort of… feeding off the carcass of the big show to create something that was alive.”

3:46Copy video clip URL Price expresses doubts that that kind of approach would ever really work. He says, “Theme shows fall flat on their faces,” because he thinks the constraints of a theme would lead to either non-participation from the artists or “literal statements that can really be embarrassing.”

4:54Copy video clip URL Price isn’t sure that the issue is necessarily more a Jewish concern than a black concern, although, “it may well be that the Spertus Museum is at a developmental stage that the DuSable Museum isn’t,” or in other words, “That we [at the DuSable] had more important things to address.” He further clarifies that he’s primarily speaking for himself when he says that that sense of importance wasn’t there, and reiterates that it would’ve been different for him is the parent exhibit had been at Spertus instead of the Chicago Historical Society.

7:27Copy video clip URL Price talks a little about what he would’ve liked to see from the show, such as a more frank discussion of the phenomenon where Jewish communities turn black, and the sense of abandonment in the black community. “There is that perception that in many instances, Jews have championed black causes to gain their own.”

11:47Copy video clip URL He says that the project felt like “an intellectualization of something after the fact,” and says it was “like treading water.” He feels like there wasn’t enough “guts to the thing.”

13:45Copy video clip URL One of the people from Kartemquin suggests that while Morrie Fred felt he was talking risks with the show, it seems like Price wanted it to take different risks. Price agrees and says he would’ve wanted it to be more regionally specific in terms of Chicago’s neighborhoods, but that also he’s not sure he would’ve been able to do the project himself as a curator, because he would’ve made it too personal and forced things too much.

17:59Copy video clip URL Price reiterates that he was concerned about it being “apologetic or nice,” and that it needed to be “a gut thing.” He also expresses doubts that the DuSable had the contemporary art connections needed to really help the project anyway. “But I think that if someone could really come up with a piece, that it could really get the attention of some real serious folks.”

22:15Copy video clip URL “I think that what Morrie envisioned, and what I certainly was hoping could happen, was not just a statement or canvas that you kind of come to and look at and say, ‘I like it or didn’t like it,'” but rather something that could really create a powerful response. Jerry Blumenthal agrees that he thinks Morrie Fred was disappointed because “it was too easy to drift through the show and out the doors of the museum and—no difference. It didn’t change your life.”

24:26Copy video clip URL Price says he could’ve easily been committed to the whole project, but that the time and commitment and focus just weren’t there this time.

25:42Copy video clip URL Price praises culture-specific museums, and says the “big museums” have had to resort to entertainment and a trend for interactivity to compete with the culture-specific museums’ ability to say something more interesting and meaningful.

 

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