On the final night of President’s Day weekend we ventured out into the abyss (also known as negative degree weather) for a hit of culture. It was the first day that Dan and I had both had off in over about a month, so we were determined to spend it productively. We were not disappointed in our visit to MoMa PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art which acts as an exhibition space (rather than collection) dedicated solely to contemporary art. As the name suggests, PS1 is housed in what used to be a school, and is located in Long Island City, Queens.
There were all manner of media housed in the museum, from an installation akin to Escher with its mirrors and staircases, to 200 year old marionettes repurposed for a live-action narrative of the crusades. A room downstairs was dedicated to the art of patrons of the museum, where you could sit and create something which would then be hung on the walls. Upon entering a different room I remarked to Dan how strangely it smelled, and we realized it was due to a performance artist having previously filled a cement tub in the corner with buttermilk. So, there was that.
Probably the most moving exhibition was focused on protests and protest culture – in one room several television screens simultaneously played video from protests filmed around the world, which along with the audio created a loud, chaotic, and unfocused atmosphere. But hanging from each screen were headphones that when worn allowed the viewer to block out the rest and engage with any one singular demonstration. It was a really clever take on the pandemonium that stems from an outside view of such specific discord as protests around the world, and the clarity that comes with actual engagement in any one.
On my way out I had to pick up some postcards at the gift shop and the first two I grabbed turned out to be from an Icelandic artist, which goes to show I have naturally good (and Nordic) taste.
We’ll definitely be visiting MoMa PS1 again soon, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a more experimental take on art.