Rule Breakers

March 15th | Rule Breakers

Here at MCA Denver we present contemporary art exhibitions and scholarly publications–as a museum should. But we also present informal activities, exhibitions, events, and public programs that connect the tradition of art with a broader spirit of creative exploration. Integrating curatorial, education, communication, and audience development strategies, we are not merely a place that presents culture through exemplary art exhibitions, we are also a place that produces culture. How? Like the artists we exhibit, we routinely break rules, challenge convention, act silly and irreverent, and serve as a role model for how we can learn from artists on how to be more artistic in what we do.

In that spirit of rule breaking, we thought we’d share just a few of our favorite rule breakers to inspire you to finish your Animating Museums application before the March 31 deadline. (And no, missing the deadline is not one of the rules we encourage you to break.)


Antonin Artaud In a time when Realism and Naturalism dominated Western Theatre, Artaud courageously broke from his already experiential roots in Surrealist Theatre to create a new school of thought aimed at deconstructing the boundary between performer and audience, and bombarding their senses as he puts it to “wake us up–Nerves and Heart.” Although in his time many of his fruits of labor were considered failures by his contemporaries, these theories are now embraced by artists of all styles and by people beyond the art world and continue to remain a highly relevant construct for exploring the fabric of humanity.


GFDA (click to see what the acronym stands for) This design company makes products and experiences to challenge people. And we like them because, well, according to their website they: “have no idea what we’re f**king doing. We never have, and, if things go right, we never will. We exist to make you feel good about doing the same.” It’s their irreverence and brazen approach to their messaging that inspires the sh** out of us to stand out from the crowd and to be different. Even if you don’t care about design we highly recommend getting their weekly “pep talk” emails (they work).


Tobias Wong (RIP)  Wong was as much as a “designer as a conceptual prankster” constantly challenging us to reconsider our relationship with objects, luxury, and consumerism. Gold-filled pills that made poop sparkle, a concrete doorstop cast from a smashed Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase, and smoking mittens solving the age-old challenge of how to smoke without freezing your fingers, are just a few of his projects that require us to rethink our relationship with the objects we interact with in our everyday lives. As Aric Chen so eloquently put it “Through his work, Wong helped bring forth much of what is now taken for granted in contemporary culture. Influenced by Dada and, especially, Fluxus, he questioned authorship through appropriation; held a mirror to our desires and absurdities; upended the hierarchy between design and art, and the precious and the banal; and helped redefine collaboration and curation as creative practices.”