The Council was created as a collaborative artwork between artist Adelita Husni-Bey and ourselves, young alumni of the MoMA Teens Digital Advisory Board. The project was exhibited as part of the 2018 New Photography exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art. Over the course of our time together, Adelita led us through a series of four separate workshops during which we explored possible responses to a fictional, apocalyptic, environmental event that forces MoMA to shift its purpose and become a refuge for New York City residents.
This fictional role-play led to the creation of four separate groups: the Project, the Commune, the Public Garden, and the Glass Dome. Within these four groups, we brainstormed and hypothesized new uses for MoMA’s physical spaces, and tried to envision what the future of museums might look like. We also met as one large group, in a series of round-table discussions, to form The Council. The Museum became an alternative space—for housing, learning, self-care, and experimentation of all kinds.
The Public Garden sought to develop a strong library of information while contributing to agricultural development. The Glass Dome offered holistic healing and a wellness center. The Commune was organized under an artificial intelligence leader named Mümma. The Project reorganized themselves across an elitist, class-based group of leaders and a secretive human experimentation lab.
On March 13, 2020, MoMA closed its doors as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 13, 2020, The Council was called together to resume our activities.
Each committee of The Council has been called upon to react to our current public health crisis, when the institution has come to question itself, its public, and the future of museums in general. In the four pieces of speculative fiction below, we respond to the realities of a public health crisis, which has entered the institution and once again created a disruption of activities. Through time-space travel technologies, we examine the multiple timelines, in parallel universes, of each committee’s handling of this crisis.
(JUNE 1, 2020)
On June 1, 2020, while working on this project, the members of The Council felt an urgent need to address what they viewed as an insufficient response from the Museum to the murder of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that sprung up in response. It begins:
The Council needs to say something before presenting a work of speculative fiction that addresses how the museum of the future might handle a very real crisis such as COVID-19. It is impossible for us to continue working in a realm of imagination without addressing our urgent reality.
We believe that the Museum is made up of all of us and that it is our responsibility to speak up. If you want our art, you must hear our voices. It is conditional that neither series of writings exists without the other. We are urging action, change, and real conversations about race.
Black Lives Matter.
THE PUBLIC GARDEN
The Public Garden issues a safety statement following the discovery of the COVID-19 virus within the community, and dissent among their essential workers ensues. Review their crisis management strategy.
THE GLASS DOME
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the Glass Dome transforms into a universal center for mind/body/soul well-being. Experience the seven vibrations of healing alchemy.
The Project has been running covert testing and tracking of COVID-19 patients. When patient No. 3 escapes, the Project takes swift and dramatic action to prevent classified information from being leaked. Learn about their immediate plans.
The Commune wrestles with the emotional and existential pains of social isolation as a result of the pandemic. Through daily journal entries, one resident recounts their struggle navigating single life in isolation. Read about their experience.
The Council is Jocelyn Aldaz, Maya Fell, Amirah Ford, Yared Glicksman, Carol Li, Winnie McNally, Ava Messina, Eric Morales, Anatola Pabst, Emily Da Silva Prado, Khachoe Ronge, Bianca Uribe, and Billy Zhao, in consultation with Adelita Husni-Bey.
Organized by Amara Thomas, Petrie Fellow, and Calder Zwicky, Assistant Director, Teen and Community Partnerships, Department of Education, with Jenna Madison, Assistant Director, Interpretation, Research, and Digital Learning, Department of Education.