MoMA’s Performance Program resumes with a new commission by the New York–based artist collective Grand Openings. In collaboration with musicians, performance art scholars, sound artists, filmmakers, writers, and friends, the group is composing a multifaceted live program that relates to the history of performance art in general, as well as MoMA’s particular institutional structure. Some sections are informed by encounters with the Museum Archives, current exhibitions, the Museum's architecture, and staff members; others are indirect meditations on the practice of performing itself. The title of the program, Grand Openings Return of the Blogs, refers to an additional documentary element of the work—a daily account of the actions in the form of handwritten texts, fabricated objects, and audio podcasts—which will be presented in the gallery space and on MoMA.org.
Grand Openings comprises five core members—Ei Arakawa, Jutta Koether, Jay Sanders, Emily Sundblad, and Stefan Tcherepnin—with different backgrounds in art, music, curating, and criticism. Their partly scripted, partly improvised actions; loose choreographies; musical scores; and acts of self-reflection coexist within a chaotic structure.
By inviting an artist collective rather than an individual artist to restart MoMA's performance art program, the Museum directs its focus to performance as a generic collective practice. The project also addresses the changing relationship between institutions and performance art. A practice that was once conceived as a critique of the static, commodified art object created by a sole author is now embraced by major museums and becomes a focus of their programs. How do institutions and their audiences engage with this formerly emancipatory movement that once existed to seek new methods and channels for art? How do younger generations of artists respond to this legacy? And in what ways do artists negotiate the inherent tension between the original live performance and its representation in different media? Grand Openings' practice relates to these questions in an idiosyncratic way and opens them up for new discussion.
Grand Openings Return of the Blogs is organized by Sabine Breitwieser, Chief Curator, and Jenny Schlenzka, Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.
The Performance Program is made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.