This week, MoMA hosts the European-based curator Mathieu Copeland, who will stage interventions in the Museum and give a lecture on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Copeland is best known for VOIDS, a retrospective, the show he co-curated at Centre Pompidou in 2009, consisting of nothing more than nine identical empty rooms that were, in fact, created by nine different artists, each with a different concept.
Copeland refuses to curate objects. Instead, he uses bodies, words, sounds, or books. For one show, he presented his usual empty gallery, but when you walked in, you went up to the desk, looked at a list of artists in the show, and then asked the desk person to read you a text that the artist had written. Another time, a beautiful whitewashed, deconsecrated synagogue in France was empty except for a pile of white books on what used to be the altar. As a viewer, the instructions were for you to pick up a book and begin reading. Your voice echoed across the emptiness of the synagogue, temporarily activating the show until the next time someone happened to pick up a book and read. For another show, three dancers performed a variety of dances silently in an empty gallery for the duration of the show. There’s a refreshing beauty, purity, and elegance to Copeland’s projects, one that reimagines the institution as a utopian space for human interaction.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, Copeland will stage interventions in and around the Museum, consisting of three people performing a variety of spoken and choreographed texts that were written by artists for this occasion. Copeland’s style is so subtle and quiet that you might not even notice them.
Here’s the performance schedule:
Wednesday, April 17, 5:00–6:00 p.m.: Cullman mezzanine, 4 West 54 Street
Thursday, April 18, 3:00–5:00 p.m.: Bauhaus Lounge, third floor and/or MoMA Sculpture Garden
Friday, April 19, 12:30–1:30 p.m. and 3:00–4:00 p.m.: Bauhaus Lounge, third floor and/or MoMA Sculpture Garden