NYSEE: EARTH WITHOUT ART IS JUST EH
ANRI SALA: ANSWER ME
This was the first time I actually decided to take the time to go to a museum alone, and considering I had a week off school, I indulged in the much anticipated, only solely contemporary art museum in NYC; The New Museum in Bowery.
Upon exiting the customary museum lift, I was drawn into a new world that Sala had created. Three levels of darkness, painted with a haze of frosty light, and the extensive multichannel audio and video installations that Sala has composed. The exhibition explores the relationship between sound/music and architecture/history through providing the viewer with a symphonic experience.
The hypnotising darkness of the exhibition made it easy to get lost in Sala’s subtle visual narratives depicting fragments of everyday life. The utter tranquility that the videos possessed captivated me, and it was only until I realised that there was an extension of the installations; an actual man playing the saxophone in the gallery. Now that really impressed me.
The thing that really excited me about this exhibition was how perfectly Sala communicated emotion and the disporia of his native Albania through the predominant use of music and sound that consumed the whole gallery.
One thing I would say about the New Museum is that the stairwell doors leading onto each art-filled floor were distracting, and I found myself coming disjointed from the work a few times due to the blinding light from the stairwells and the discourteous people who decide that when they exit, they can slam the door behind them. Another thing; I found the second exhibit on the fourth floor to be just your typical, “production and mass consumption of images in pop culture”. Sorry, not sorry. After viewing Sala’s profound exhibition, I was quick to leave Cheryl. Before I left, however, I visited the Skyroom on the top level of the gallery for a great view of the bustling New York City, from a still, snowy space.
UNFINISHED THOUGHTS LEFT VISIBLE / NASREEN MOHAMEDI
For me, The MET topped the New Museum, but this may be because it housed an unfinished work by my favourite artist of all time; Jean-Michael Basquiat. Nevertheless, The MET exhibited extremely fine, unfinished works of art also by the brilliant Picasso, Klimt, Hodler and Van Gough, among others such as Lassnig and Mohamedi. Meandering through the gallery, it became clear that the mere fragmentation of the works exulted the excellence of the art. The stories behind the incompleteness of the artworks were compelling to read, and what made it even better was the fact that I could actually understand what the hell the artist's statements meant, and it wasn’t just a rambling of words like “composition, reveals, existentialism” bunched together in one paragraph.
Take my favourite, Pablo Picasso’s, Woman in a Red Armchair, 1931, featured in a public exhibition for the first time. The work depicts a woman seated in an armchair, however her face is virtually illegible, eradicated by a series of vigorous brushstrokes and a black heart that expands from one side of her neck. It is likely that the painting evokes the tension within Picasso’s household at a time when he was torn between his wife, Olga, and his mistress, Marie-Thérèse. When you learn the story behind each unfinished work, it becomes much more significant, as I discovered that all of these world-renowned artists encountered the very same human universal struggles.
The gallery provided a seamless balance of both contemporary and longstanding artworks; candy-eating installations, historical art figures and the personal stories behind their previously hidden works, architectural geometric line art, and, the paintings with the fat naked babies.
I also met the friendliest museum security guard. We asked him if we were allowed to take a photo of the candy installation to which he replied, “Well, it says you can’t… but if I’m looking over there… Ooops, I just missed you take that photo over there. Quick, go on while I can’t see.” It is a struggle to find down to Earth museum legends that let you do things you aren’t supposed to. I really recommend The Met. It is brilliant.
1. MoMA PS1
LIONEL MAUNZ / RODNEY MCMILLIAN / CAO FEI
MoMA PS1 became my favourite museum after I visited it for the first time a few weeks ago. The exhibition space devotes its energy and resources into the display of the most experimental art in the world. Situated in Long Island City, Queens, this warehouse style museum, once used as a studio, performance and exhibition spaces, has preserved its true artistic laboratory atmosphere to this day.
The rich design of the museum captivated me and is on par with the artworks itself. It is an iconic catalyst and advocate for any artist willing to push the boundaries of contemporary art. MoMA PS1 is distinguishable from other main art institutions as it uses the museum’s skeleton in a highly innovative way. I really do love this place because it promotes something really important to me; the appreciation and understanding of contemporary art. There is an abundance of installations that allow the viewer to feel connected to the artwork, artist and space – I feel like I am in an art studio when I am wandering in PS1, which, in my opinion, is exactly the ambiance that a successful museum should have. This ambiance gets my creative juices flowing and that is precisely why this is my favourite museum thus far. It also tops the list for me because it actively pursues emerging artists, new genres, and highly adventurous work in the effort to support innovation in contemporary art.
My favourite exhibition was by one of the most innovative young artists to have emerged from China; Cao Fei. Fei creates multimedia projects that explore the experiences of young Chinese citizens as they develop strategies for overcoming and escaping the realities of a rapidly changing society. The use of Multimedia film allows the artist to comment on the chaotic changes occurring in Chinese society.
My favourite of Fei’s films was when she mixed her perfectly scaled models of unique landscapes composed of contrasting objects, which displaced obvious diaspora with film. Watching the landscapes on a big screen conveyed a completely different idea to when I wandered to the room net door where I could observe the models physically. The virtual cities combined with architectural icons and aerial shopping malls bedecked with Mao statues, expresses as much symbolism about the reality of a changing Chinese society as it expresses imaginings of the country’s future. This exhibition was seriously amazing.
MoMA PS1 is ridiculously amazing, and if you are up for a hearty museum visit decked with stimulating contemporary art to get the left side of your brain flowing, this is the place for you.