Art as Experience: Contemporary Interventions in MoMA’s Collection

Brittni Zotos
Nov 24, 2012 1:52AM

A visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) ensures an intimate encounter with some of the worlds most beautiful and groundbreaking art. What is left out of this curated experience, however, is the art-making practice that produces these masterpieces, and the new perspectives that are gained when art talks back.

MoMA’s collaboration with Recess, an artists’ workspace open to the public, gave visitors the unique opportunity to observe artists at work, and even interact and participate in these manifestations. During the event nine “interventions” by Recess artists occurred in the atrium and permanent collection of the museum. Roaming through these spaces visitors encountered a horn ensemble, a “migratory feminist reading action,” and dream interpretations, among others.

Playing off the staid fixture of MoMA’s atrium, Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac, John Miserendino set three impressively accurate re-creations of the Balzac statue on remote-controlled wheels to move amongst the observers, some of whom posed and danced with the “Stalking Balzacs."

Julia Sherman staged a new series of photographs re-creating Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. The artist relied on visitors’ descriptions of the original work to re-create the scene and even invited observers to alter the pose of model. When I came upon this intervention the artist? a participant? was drawing on a tribal mask attached to the back of the model’s head.

These interventions animated the peaceful, empty spaces of MoMA and forced us to alter our course through the galleries and reconsider iconic works. Movement through these spaces transformed from a choreographed path into a dérive – an unplanned excursion during which predetermined motives are relinquished in order to open the journey to an entirely new and genuine experience.

Brittni Zotos