For its third iteration, titled Open to the Public, the MoMAR curators wanted to push the boundaries of the museum further, digitally intervening into the museum's architecture more directly. Manuel Rossner’s contribution, Reef, reconfigures the room it "sits" in. The German artist, who primarily works in virtual reality, has created a colorful cavern that expands beyond the gallery’s wall. Rather than simply replacing a painting, it cannibalizes it, and in turn considers what environments—physical or digital—might be made within the white-walled constraints of the museum. This vibrant, biomorphic intervention, which is algorithmically generated, adds a dash of play to the relatively rigid structure of the institution. One can imagine the artificial depth causing problems for the less attentive, and MoMA does officially restrict panning phones through rooms if you’re filming. Other artworks cheekily deconstruct our relationships to how we consume (and make) images in the museum. Akihiko Taniguchi has introduced an "augmented selfie" into the gallery, where a 3D avatar of the artist floats in the iPhone’s view. The digital Taniguchi’s arm is outstretched, phone in hand. If you press your screen it will save a picture to your phone and the animated avatar will take a photo too, his virtual self capturing his face in front of a wall of Morris Hirshfield paintings. Strokes, by the Japanese duo exonemo, is an act of artistic intervention (or vandalism). Just what it sounds like, when an iPhone is pointed at its tag (Joseph Pickett's painting Manchester Valley) random Pollock-esque strokes of "paint" will appear on the screen, disrupting and damaging the otherwise pristinely kept MoMA and its carefully kept goods. New York-based Erin Ko’s La Barrera diffuses glitchy fractured signs throughout the gallery—shattered emojis, 3D pyramids and bottles, all what Ko calls "floating garbage." Black brushstrokes cover a canvas that digitally displays quickly changing insipid networked truisms: "You don’t know stress until you own a charger that only works if your phone is at a certain angle." Is that stress? By disrupting the art on display and its vaulted home with her own internet throw up, Ko seems to point out the banality of the glut of content online and off, the constant distractions that the privileged find on their phones and in museums, in buildings and on networks developed by so much labor and producing so much waste, all of which so often is ignored. Where some smaller works hang on the wall a hole opens up, a portal beyond the museum, to nowhere real. An outside we can never reach, the hole reveals the museum as a trap. Despite the ways these works might prod at the museum that made and continues to makes the modern canon, flouting its celebrated art and its architectural integrity, Damjanski noted that he is not anti-museum in the least. He loves coming to the MoMA, but he sees many new opportunities in and beyond traditional institutions. "Museums are so often a one-way conversation," he pointed out. "We want to see if it could be a three- or four-way conversation instead." By involving the user and new artists in the museum, disconnected from its official institutional and curatorial structures, a more democratic, flexible, and updatable MoMA—an augmented one—can be imagined. MoMAR also provides and proposes new ways of exhibiting net art and other creative practices that engage with emerging technology that museums, excluding certain projects such as Rhizome, have been relatively slow to keep up with—though there are some net works like JODI’s video My%Desktop in MoMA’s rehang. Of course, to visit Open to the Public you still have to get to MoMA and pay admission or attend on a free night, which is also when MoMAR hosts its openings. To further the democratizing potential of AR exhibitions, MoMAR’s team offers up its Unity-based platform as an open-source tool so that people around the world can create their own installations and exhibitions well beyond MoMA’s rarefied walls. Open to the Public Viewable with the MoMAR app at MoMA, gallery 521, fifth floor Through January 25, 2020View this post on Instagram
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French-Italian art collector Jean Pigozzi has gifted New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a substantial collection of contemporary artwork from across Africa. The 45 pieces included in the donation feature work by Sierra Leonean artist Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Malian photographer Seydou Keïta, and Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez, whose fantastical models of cityscapes formed the retrospective exhibition Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA last year. According to MoMA, Pigozzi’s is the largest single gift of African art that the museum has ever received and will contribute significantly to future displays of its permanent collection.
Born in Paris to Italian businessman and Simca-founder Henri Pigozzi, Jean Pigozzi amassed his fortune through inheritance and a variety of enterprises, including photography and fashion design. He jumpstarted his collection of African contemporary art in 1989, soon after seeing the exhibit Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Curator André Magnin lent considerable guidance as Pigozzi accumulated upwards of 10,000 pieces, now widely recognized as one of the largest collections of African contemporary art in the world. Pigozzi has maintained his holdings as the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) in Geneva, which has no permanent galleries for exhibition. Pieces from the CAAC have been lent to museums and galleries across Africa, Europe, and North America for a range of temporary exhibits.
The move by Pigozzi sheds light on a broader effort by MoMA to overcome its longstanding focus on American and European modernism. The museum’s leaders have been appealing to donors with collections that highlight other regions of the world, including Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, who has given Latin American artwork to the institution twice since 2016. For MoMA, the acquisition may represent an opportunity for both redemption and growth. Between 1984 and 1985, the museum held an exhibit titled ‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, which many have excoriated for promoting reductive, racist, and deeply ingrained notions of African inferiority. The Pompidou show that catalyzed Pigozzi’s collection was largely considered a rebuttal to MoMA’s own curatorial efforts, prompting Pigozzi himself to spend much of his life advocating for African contemporary art as on-par with, and often more interesting than, Western examples.
The growing stature of African contemporary art on the global stage extends well beyond MoMA’s walls. Earlier this year, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair made its Manhattan debut at New York’s Industria, six years after its founding in London and four years after popping up in Brooklyn. In 2016, the international auction house Sotheby’s opened a department dedicated to African art in London, which has been frequented not only by Europeans but also by wealthy collectors from Nigeria, Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa. MoMA is likely looking to get in on the action, and Pigozzi’s gift presents the institution with its best opening yet.
While it is still unclear exactly how curators will incorporate Pigozzi’s pieces into the MoMA’s permanent collection displays, they are sure to play a role in the museum’s continuing growth. MoMA’s newly expanded facility, including its reconfigured permanent collection galleries, will open to the public on October 21, 2019.