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MoMA TEENS TAKE OVER INSIDE/OUT: ANONYMOUS FACES

April 1, 2014  |  MoMA Teen Takeover
MoMA Teens Take Over Inside/Out: Anonymous Faces
A portrait of “Vladimir,” by Carol Li

A portrait of “Vladimir,” by Carol Li

Approximately 3.5 million people from all over the world visit the MoMA each year. But who are these people? They all seem like anonymous faces in a gallery, to whom we pay little notice. But just like ourselves, each one of them has their own, unique story. We decided to spend the afternoon in the MoMA galleries observing these unknowns and hazarding guesses as to what their stories are. These are the profiles we created for these previously anonymous people.

1893. Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 51 1/2" (91.8 x 130.8 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Irgens Larsen and acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Funds. © 2014 The Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Edvard Munch. The Storm.1893. Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 51 1/2″ (91.8 x 130.8 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Irgens Larsen and acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Funds. © 2014 The Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Coming all the way from Russia, Vladimir is six feet tall and has balding, black-gray hair and a goatee. He has an audio guide on, eager to learn about the art world. Walking around the fifth floor, he fades into the crowd of tourists gathering around The Starry Night. Instead of fighting to see the painting, he decides to walk over to The Storm, by Edvard Munch, for the time being. The house in the painting reminds him of his home in Russia, and the thought of his old home brings back memories of his deceased wife, Svetlana. He looks down, thinking about how she used to smile and admire all the art in the museums back home. Vladimir had always wanted to be an artist, but his parents pressured him into the medical field for financial security, going so far as dumping his paintbrushes out of their apartment window when he was a teen. His eyes wander around the room of paintings, envious of those who had the chance and confidence to venture into this world. Vladimir gets a sudden rush of excitement, storming out of the gallery, ready to dedicate his suppressed passion to the love of his life.

A portrait of "Darlene," by Helen Galioto

A portrait of “Darlene,” by Helen Galioto

Gustav Klimt. <i>Hope, II</i>. 1907–08, Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas, 43 1/2 x 43 1/2" (110.5 x 110.5 cm). Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder and Helen Acheson Funds, and Serge Sabarsky

Gustav Klimt. Hope, II. 1907–08, Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas, 43 1/2 x 43 1/2″ (110.5 x 110.5 cm). Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder and Helen Acheson Funds, and Serge Sabarsky

Darlene is a woman in her 60s. Faint wisdom lines dance along her face, and her silver hair is worn in a short bob that grazes the shoulders of her lemon-yellow sweater. Though along in years, she has managed to retain her refined grace and elegance, which has been her main accessory all her life. Darlene has chosen to spend today in the fifth-floor gallery of MoMA to escape the mundaneness her life has become. She passes by the sea of people surrounding The Starry Night and makes her way to her love, her light: Hope II, by Gustav Klimt. Darlene asks herself, What does that word even mean to her anymore? A string of failed relationships, missed opportunities, and long, lonely nights spent in the same studio apartment she’s lived in for 40 years had brought Darlene to a very cynical view of hope. Hope, like the fleeting supply of ink in the pen she was writing with, was temporary; soon to be gone. Yet hope was something Darlene clung to while she could. As she walked around the gallery to view the other works, Darlene couldn’t stop her gaze from always going back to that one painting.

Sometimes, things in our life never seem to go our way. We feel the urge to scream into someone’s face or punch a wall, all in an effort to relieve our anger. But what if there is no available face to scream into or you are in a barren room, floating in outer space? How can you relieve your pent-up anger?

Claude Monet. <i>Water Lilies</i>. 1914–26. Oil on canvas, three panels, each 6' 6 3/4" x 13' 11 1/4" (200 x 424.8 cm), overall 6' 6 3/4" x 41' 10 3/8" (200 x 1276 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund

Claude Monet. Water Lilies. 1914–26. Oil on canvas, three panels, each 6′ 6 3/4″ x 13′ 11 1/4″ (200 x 424.8 cm), overall 6′ 6 3/4″ x 41′ 10 3/8″ (200 x 1276 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund

Freeriver was never one to get mad. In fact, he prided himself in this—his cool-as-a-cucumber composure. For this, Freeriver was regarded as the corporate hippie at his workplace. But the corporate world can threaten the most gentle of souls, Freeriver being no exception. To “get himself back to the garden” and steal some company time in the process, Freeriver began to visit the MoMA frequently. In those white-walled galleries he strolled through wearing his “office inappropriate sandals” to a lone song, his bamboo suit pants whistled with the movement of his legs. Careless of his step, Freeriver stumbled on a water lily. The sight and size of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies cleansed him of the grime months of dishonesty has produced on his skin. He sat before Monet’s watery myopia, glazed at it and then at his soft office hands, wondering what is stopping him from producing calluses on them.

 

The authors, from left: Helen Galioto, Carol Li, Faviola Lopez

The authors, from left: Helen Galioto, Carol Li, Faviola Lopez

This week, every post on Inside/Out is created by participants in the MoMA + MoMA PS1 Cross-Museum Collective, a behind-the-scenes program for teenage alumni of our In the Making studio-art classes. Over the course of the 16-week project, the participating teens work with educators, curators, security staff, conservators, and other Museum staff to gain hands-on experience across a number of fields. In addition, they create collaborative artwork with a range of contemporary artists. More info can be found HERE and HERE. Info on our 2014 free summer art courses for teens is available now.

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