Barbara London

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Barbara London is an American curator, writer, and sound art advocate. London founded the video collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with works by Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, and Lynda Benglis. During her tenure at MoMA, she oversaw the acquisition of more than 500 media art works.

London studied at Hiram College, Ohio graduating with a BA in 1968, and then studied Islamic art at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, receiving an MA in 1972.

She founded the video exhibition and collection programs at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She originally joined the staff at MoMA in 1970 as a program assistant with the International Program, from 1974 to 1977 she was a curatorial assistant in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books, and became assistant curator of video in 1977 [1].

The exhibitions she organized include one-person shows featuring early mavericks Nam June Paik, Bill Viola, Steina Vasulka, Joan Jonas, Shigeko Kubota, Peter Campus, Gary Hill, Valie Export, and Laurie Anderson. She was the first curator in the United States to showcase the work of Asian artists Song Dong, Teiji Furuhashi, Feng Mengbo, and Yang Fudong. Her thematic projects have included Video from Tokyo to Fukui and Kyoto (1979); Video from Latin America (1981); Video Art: A History (1983-1984); Music Video: The Industry and Its Fringes (1985); New Video: Japan (1986); Video Spaces: Eight Installations (1995); Anime! (2005); Stillness (Michael Snow/Sam Taylor-Wood, 2005); Automatic Update (2007); Looking at Music, parts 1–3 (2008-2011); Through the Weeping Glass: On Consolations of Life Everlasting (in the Mütter Museum, 2011) with the Quay Brothers; and Soundings: A Contemporary Score (2013). She pioneered the integration of the Internet as part of curatorial practice, putting daily dispatches online for such projects as Stir-fry: A Video Curator's Dispatches from China (1994), Internyet (1998), and dot.jp (1999). Then in 2001, London produced MoMA's first website art commission, Tony Oursler’s Timestream.

London has taught at NYU and the School of Visual Arts, and her writings have appeared in such publications as Artforum, Yishu, Leonardo, ArtAsiaPacific, Art in America, Modern Painters, and Image Forum. She received a Gertrude Contemporary Visiting Curator Residency, Melbourne (2012) and a Dora Maar House Residency, Ménerbes (2010). Through a CEC ArtsLink award (summer 2003) she investigated media art in Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdansk. She received a Japanese government Bunkacho Fellowship (winter 1992–93) and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (winter 1988–89) to further professional development and investigate new trends in electronic technologies and the effects on the creation and distribution of the arts in Japan.

After over four decades at MoMA, London retired from her position as an Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art in 2013. She was appointed critic at Yale School of Art the same year.

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