MOBA, the curious museum of bad art

The Museum of Bad Art or MOBA exhibits pieces of art that, for some reason, did not come to fruition. Here the discarded, rejected or mistreated works end up for not meeting the “aesthetic criteria” imposed by the institutions of art and society.

The museum seeks to celebrate the efforts made by creators in their failed attempt to achieve a work of art as such. We are probably too used to believing that achievements come on their own and we forget that they were preceded by countless failures.

One of the favorite slogans of the museum is the one that says: “Art too disgusting to be ignored”. Let’s see what this interesting place is all about.

Birth of the MOBA

The MOBA was unknowingly conceived by Scott Wilson, an antiques dealer who one day found a painting in the trash can. He decided to pick it up because he liked the frame, but when he showed it to several of his friends, they were fascinated by the set.

With the passing of time, Wilson continued to salvage discarded works or acquire them from third parties.. Jerry Reilly and his wife Marie Jackson also collaborated in this task, who additionally held house meetings with guests and exhibited the accumulated paintings.

maybe joking but From these meetings came the idea of ​​starting a collection would be of this type of work. This is how the MOBA was officially born at the head of its 3 founders, in 1993.

The perfect venue

The unexpected reception of the paintings by the public and the accumulation of these made the house look small. Therefore, its founders decided to create a headquarters; the chosen site was the cellar of the Dedham Theaterin United States.

A barrage of criticism, in some cases scathing, fell on the MOBA. Many said that this headquarters was only fit to be demolished. However, those who ran the museum were laughing their heads off: their decision had been the right one.

The year was 1995 and, by this time, the MOBA was already being recognized, to the point that several people donated works instead of discarding them. Best of all, the artists themselves began personally donating their unsuccessful works to the museum.

On the other hand, for various media the MOBA became the perfect target for all kinds of commentsespecially negative. But as the popular saying goes: “it doesn’t matter if you speak well or badly about something, as long as you speak”.

The selection of works for the collection

The unusual interest of the artists themselves to be part of the MOBA project led to many wanting to donate their work. However, in most cases these were rejected, because for the MOBA staff it was necessary to follow certain paths.

The first of these was that the work must be original and have a serious and sincere intention in its execution process. Additionally, it had to present significant flaws, without falling into repetition.

The MOBA curators were not interested in works whose mistakes were clearly deliberate. Nor did any type of artistic manifestation of style attract their attention. kitschpretentious or in bad taste.

Trends in MOBA

Although the MOBA has been criticized countless times for going against the “true” art, people like Marie Jackson have always said the opposite. Jackson states that the philosophy of the Museum is to celebrate the sincerity of some artists and pay tribute to them.

In fact, today the Museum has more than 600 works in its collection and it is an obligatory place on several tourist routes in the city of Boston. There is also a large number of articles and reviews made both in newspapers and magazines around the world.

For example, an article from New York Times written by art critic Deborah Solomon noted that the practice of MOBA is now a trend in museums. Basically, they do exhibitions with “the best bad art”. Likewise, it has given rise to a global movement that promotes the collection of artistic works that nobody wants.

Additional aspects

The founders of MOBA they used to perform itinerant shows that depended on the place where the presentation was made. They were similar to performances which included staging, suggestive titles, and occasionally musicals. Examples of this were presentations made in a forest, in a car wash and in a spa.

A second location for the Museum was opened at the Somerville Theater in Davis SquareMassachusetts —United States— in 2008. Additionally, the MOBA works have been exhibited in different museums in Virginia and New York, in the United States, and in Ottawa, in Canada.

The MOBA has also had time to show solidarity with some institutions, as happened in 2009 with the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. On that occasion, Michael Frank, musician and curator of the MOBA, auctioned off eBay the job studies in digestion and donated the proceeds to the university museum.

From the year 2008, to the MOBA it occurred to him to summon his followers to baptize some of his works through his website. The idea arose as a result of the bewildering complexity involved in carrying out this task for the museum’s curators, so they decided to give the public a chance to see what would come of it.

a couple of anecdotes

In 1996 the work was stolen Eileen, by R. Angelo Le, which had been recovered from the garbage. At the time, she offered herself a reward of just over $35. Only after 10 years was the museum contacted by the alleged perpetrator, who demanded $5,000 to return the painting. Although the ransom was not paid, the work was returned.

Later, in 2004, a self-portrait of Rebecca Harris was stolen from the MOBA, for which her captors demanded 10 dollars. After a while, the work was returned to the museum with an envelope that formalized an anonymous donation of 10 dollars.

The experience of visiting one of the MOBA exhibits can end in uncontrollable laughter or unexplained tears. Likewise, it is capable of awakening ambiguous sensations such as the one recorded by a Canadian in the guestbook: “This collection is worrying, but I can’t look away… just like a horrible car accident.”

sow to reap

The work carried out by the MOBA has been so fruitful that others have copied the idea and develop similar projects in Seattle, Ohio and Australia. In fact, the Commedia Beauregard theater company created a series of short plays from the paintings collected by the MOBA.

There are any number of anecdotes and very intelligent occurrences about this museum, but it highlights a central idea that can be summed up in what one of its founders said: «Extreme ugliness is more surprising than extreme beauty and forces people to think more deeply. ».

As Jason Kaufman, a professor of sociology at Harvard University, wrote: “The MOBA (…) deliberately mixes the poorly done with the ingenious and clever (…) In addition, it illustrates its central objective to mock the system of judgment by which the people identify what is bad from what is not.

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