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Playing Games at MoMA Studio: Won’t You Breathe with Me?
From left: Playing Polvo with Michel Groisman at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me; Playing Sirva-Se in MoMA's Sculpture Garden with Michel Groisman. Photos by Sarah Kennedy

From left: Playing Polvo with Michel Groisman at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me; Playing Sirva-Se in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden with Michel Groisman. Photos by Sarah Kennedy

We are entering the fourth week of MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me and want to share some of the highlights of the artist-led workshops that have activated the space so far. Each one revealed the ways in which Lygia Clark’s work continues to resonate with contemporary artists and their hopes to engage the public in experiences of art that are physical and social in nature.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Brazilian artist Michel Groisman led two workshops at the Studio and in MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. For the first one, called Polvo, we were encouraged to twist and turn our bodies in unexpected ways that reflect the game’s title, which means “octopus” in Portuguese. Imagine a game that’s part Twister, part Memory Cards! Designed to create and challenge social relationships, the game consists of a deck of cards that features photographs of different body parts—from a knee to a tongue to the palm of a hand—with which players make pairings. Players, on their own and with the help of others, joined together their own body parts to reveal and break down unexpected social and physical connections and barriers within the group. It was a playful exploration of how colleagues, friends, and strangers can move in space and create a collective body.

A group of participants gather after playing Sirva-Se together at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me. © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Manuel Martagon

A group of participants gather after playing Sirva-Se together at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me. © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Manuel Martagon

Groisman’s second workshop was called Sirva-Se (help yourself). We were each given a glass with which we either poured water into or caught water from another player’s glass. We were invited to explore different sensations while pouring the water by closing our eyes and even attaching glasses to parts of the body.

Through the simple act of passing water from person to person, the glasses of water became vehicles for communication, and together the group explored issues such as trust, cooperation, silence, and flow. There were a lot of laughs, a few wet moments, but all in all it was another exciting way to explore group dynamics between willing participants.

Allison Smith’s masks from her Needle Work project, as featured at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me, with her printed parachute in the background. Photo by Sarah Kennedy

Allison Smith’s masks from her Needle Work project, as featured at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me, with her printed parachute in the background. Photo by Sarah Kennedy

Last Thursday, Allison Smith led a hands-on Needle Workshop at the Studio that related to her ongoing project Needle Work (begun in 2010), which looks at early cloth gas masks as remnants of an as-yet-unwritten history of needlework. After we learned about Smith’s project and its uncanny connection to Lygia Clark’s “Sensorial Hoods,” we were each given materials to create our own masks. It’s amazing how focused we became when we were fastidiously making something with intent and creativity. (A few of the masks are featured in the image at left.)

Join us in the Education and Research Building mezzanine at MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me to try Polvo for yourself or to do some sewing with materials we have on hand. Or check out the upcoming workshops with Brazilian artist Ricardo Basbaum and New York–based artist Jeanine Oleson later this month. We look forward to welcoming you!

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