Sunday, January 4, 2009

My MOMA moment.

Having lived in Manhattan for a short period of time, and visited a plethora, the shiny'ness of the great big city has become a little tarnished. However, my first visit to MOMA on a chilly Saturday afternoon this past weekend left me with that little girl in the big city feeling, or more like "Toto, I don't think we're at the Biggs Museum anymore."

From a visitor standpoint, all you might think of is "swarms", of people that is. The second to last day of the Van Gogh: Colors of the Night exhibition combined with the tail end of many holiday vacation weeks filled the MOMA with packs of people of all types. Tourists, internationals, families, couples, hipsters couldn't get in the revolving doors fast enough, whether it was anticipation for the art or just to get out of the frigid temperatures. Granted, I could have done without the pushing, getting my feet run over by several strollers and the few hipsters who were stealing my caption reading view, as an art museum employee I reveled in the crowds. Of all the things to do in Manhattan, there are this many people here, in this museum, enjoying and experiencing this art. They want to see it, get it, feel it, make an idea of their own and they want to be a part of it (hence the bare shelves that normally hold prints in the MOMA store).

So what was the highlight of my MOMA trip? Have you ever heard of brides buying the first dress they tried on? Well, my MOMA moment was the very first thing I saw after handing over my admission ticket. It was Swiss artist's Pipilotti Rist's installation, Pour Your Body Out. MOMA clearly had some space to fill in their atrium, at the size of 7354 Cubic Meters. As I walked up the stairs to the second floor, my vision was smashed with massive projections of pink tulips on all walls and I look towards the ground to see a crowd of people surrounding a circular cushion with white carpets. In a moment of modern art pessimism (shame on me), I thought to myself, "now what in the world is this?"

But the writing on the wall from Ms. Rist invited me to kick back, stretch out, meet people, and sing or even dance. Although visitors are experiencing video, Rist mentions that Pour Your Body Out is quite different from watching YouTube saying, " “The visitors bring their bodies to the museum. That’s different from the mass media coming to your living room.” The sixteen minute video encompasses all there is in nature, sort of like speeding through a day of programs on the Discovery Channel. I must be honest, I didn't kick my shoes off and parade around, as I had four floors of galleries to get through, but I did take it all in. Ms. Rist clearly has created a convening space for the public in MOMA, what you do in it is up to you. So, my final review of MOMA? I'll admit I'm an amateur for modern art, just dying to "get it," but everything I saw was well worth working for.

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