MoMA Out-takes

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Just a few images from our trip to MoMA last week. The museum has completely altered the contemporary galleries on 2. They are unrecognizable over the spare, high-ceilinged, cavernous space we saw in February at the building’s opening. For starters there are partition walls everywhere. But because there seems to be no coherent game plan for what to see next–no arrows, no chronology that I could see (I’m not complaining, just noting it) the feeling is one of chaos and clutter. People mill around this way and that. On the Friday we were there it seemed congested although there were not really mobs of people. I imagine on a weekend it could get thick.

Anyway, one room seems to have political art as its theme. It’s the chamber with the big Dana Schutz “Presentation,” a piece that has Ensor by Eakins charm (think crowd of ghostly faces — painted in tropical colors — looking at figure being operated on). There’s a Warhol hammer and sickle, David Wojnarowicz‘s “Fire” (shown at the top of this post), a Kara Walker print (in fact the same one PAFA owns and had up in the recent works on paper show). There’s Yinka Shonibare‘s colonial costumes (come to think of it they were at the FWM a few years back in the “Secret Victorians” show). Somewhat oddly enough, this politics room is the one immediately outside the room with Janet Cardiff‘s elegant and emotional (and completely non-political) beauty “40-part Motet,” which I confess I got all teary-eyed in. The acapella all-ages choir sings a magnificent rendition of a 16th century mournful song. All you see are the 40 speakers, encircling you, elevated on poles to about head height. And you see people. I saw people stop in their tracks when the song started as if they’d been hit by lightening. It’s so very beautiful to the ear and so emotionally-charged. And really, you have nothing to look at of interest except the other people in the room. Which might be a political statement after all I suppose.

(image is people listening to Cardiff’s “40-part motet”)

cardiff, janet
wojnarowicz, david

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