Although interdisciplinary artists Clayton and Rubin have been friends for years, this represents the pair’s first formal collaboration. Clayton’s work often transforms day-to-day activities from mundane to poetic; through her project Mysterious Letters (2009–ongoing), she and fellow artist Michael Crowe have sent off 2,700 personalized, often whimsical missives in an attempt to contact every household in the world. For his part, Rubin reimagines spaces of exchange—like Conflict Kitchen (2009–ongoing), a functioning Pittsburgh restaurant that serves the cuisine of countries with which the U.S. is in conflict.
When they heard that the Guggenheim was soliciting submissions for the new social practice initiative, which encourages community engagement, Rubin says they viewed it as a singular opportunity. “This older, venerable museum in New York has a specific kind of cultural and socioeconomic and geographic identity to the city—how might a project dislocate or relocate that identity and involve an orbit of other places in the city that might not normally be in conversation with the museum itself?” he asks.
“We were interested in creating a framework that mixed up the usual ways that things function, that put a wrench in the works, if you like,” Clayton adds.
The final title of Clayton and Rubin’s work is a mouthful: A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and a congregation’s call to action circle through New York (2017), or ...circle through New York, for short. It references the six entities that are now in rotation between venues.
During March, the project’s first month, a drama class from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts will appear on a comedy show about a corrupt cop at Jus Broadcasting, and the staff of the Guggenheim will sing the world's oldest song daily in the museum’s rotunda.