IMOCA changes name, refines mission without home base

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More than two years after vacating its base of operations in Fountain Square, the city’s museum dedicated to contemporary art has formalized its metamorphosis into a more nomadic organization.

The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (IMOCA) has rebranded as Indianapolis Contemporary, dedicated to exhibiting artwork and staging related programs in the city without maintaining its own dedicated space.

“I/C continues its mission to connect people to innovative and inspiring art of our time. What has changed is our approach, which will be multi-site oriented and include exhibitions and programming beyond visual art,” according to an announcement Monday from the group.

It plans to present artwork and programs in three principal locations: the CityWay Gallery in the Alexander Hotel at 216 E. South St., the Ash & Elm Cider Company building at 2104 E. Washington St., and Re:Public, a gallery under construction at 2301 E. 10th St. that Indianapolis Contemporary will program in conjunction with the Hoy Polloy gallery at 2121 E. 10th St.

Indianapolis Contemporary also has debuted an online publication titled "Abstract" that features essays, interviews, prose, visual art and music that will change monthly.  

In late 2016, IMOCA closed its storefront space at 1043 Virginia Ave. in the Murphy Arts Center building, where it had been based since 2009. It vacated the space to make way for an expansion of the neighboring Hi-Fi music venue.

In early 2018, it announced that it would lease 2,300 square feet in the former Ford Motor Co. assembly plant building at 1301 E. Washington St., which is undergoing a renovation by Indianapolis-based TWG Development.

IMOCA leaders began reevaluating the group's mission after the departure of Executive Director Paula Katz in April 2018, according to Michael Kaufmann, who was named consulting director in January.

Since IMOCA's founding in 2001, several organizations had opened spaces for exhibiting contemporary art, which made the need for a permanent facility less pressing, Kaufmann said. There also was concern about the expense of maintaining a permanent space on a day-to-day basis when visitors were rare outside of openings.

Partnering with existing spaces would give IMOCA the ability to showcase works in different parts of the city while dramatically reducing overhead. That in turn would free up money to commission more works of art.

"When you are paying rent every month, that's less money that we can put into commissioned work," Kaufmann said. "We have more opportunity now to give resources to the artists."


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