Tuesday, May 18, 2010

exiting MoMA

Last Friday I made a trip to the Museum of Modern Art to see the William Kentridge exhibit Five Themes. I would almost say that it is a pity that the exhibit coincided with Marina Abramović, the Artist is Present, but that is like saying that melted butter on warm, home-made bread is almost too delicious. Both shows work as documents of prolific and powerful art making careers. The bonus round was the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit, and I didn’t even attempt the Picasso. Kentridge has closed, but with Abramović, Cartier-Bresson, and Picasso, there is an abundance of riches at MoMA right now.

I only spent a short time with Abramović. I want to return and devote my full attention to this incredibly dense exhibit. While I would like to sit with the artist, I don’t share the burning need for catharsis or enlightenment that some museum goers appear to seek.

What is a pity is much of the commentary floating around the interweb right now regarding the Abramović show. Most of it deals with issues irrelevant to the work. Some are going gaga over the means by which Ms. Abramović is urinating under that supposedly designed-by-Prada gown. Then there are warnings about the naked performers. There are the Who’s Who rosters of celebrities showing up to sit with Ms. Abramović. Finally there is the proposal that Lady Gaga’s attendance at the retrospective supports the elevation of her status to that of performance artist.

The depth and consequence of Abramović’ opus far exceeds any of these trite and pointless discussions. However, in the spirit of my lower self, I offer the following thoughts:

It doesn’t mater how she is peeing, but why don’t you just ask her? No one said you couldn’t.

Some noteworthy bloggers would be well served to follow her lead and wear Prada. (you know who you are)

Celebrities get to go to museums too.

Lady Gaga is a pop star. I like good shoes, but it doesn’t make me a cobbler.

If you are so strapped for a glimpse of naked people, you can still view them in National Geographic. Don’t embarrass yourself in a museum. Better yet, follow the moving billboard parked outside the Museum. It’s pictured above.


  1. What a great thing to see right after leaving the MoMA (a palette cleanser?)! I used to live near the NY Hustler Club, and it has this awful Greco-Roman, neoclassical, Vegas-y facade -- as if to suggest that it is, in fact, a place of culture & class (like the MoMA). There's a Penthouse lounge down the street from the Hustler Club, but it has a nondescript exterior (no signage on the building, but a huge billboard across the street), so I guess it's somewhat closer to the MoMA's high-modernist architectural tenets...

  2. maybe this was actually an installation....