Roman Ondák. Measuring the Universe. 2007. © The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: John Wronn

Viewers play a vital role in the creation of Measuring the Universe (2007), by Slovakian artist Roman Ondák (b. 1966). Over the course of the exhibition, attendants mark Museum visitors’ heights, first names, and date of the measurement on the gallery walls. Beginning as an empty white space, over time the gallery gradually accumulates the traces of thousands of people.

The inclusion of viewers in the process of art making has a long tradition in the history of performance-based art. By inviting people to actively participate, artists attempt to overcome traditional divisions between art objects and spectators, and production and reception.

Measuring the Universe turns the domestic custom of recording children’s heights on door frames into a public event, referring through its title to humankind’s age-old desire to gauge the scale of the world. The process creates a work of art with a multitude of participants, merging art with everyday life in a confluence that is at the very center of Ondák’s artistic practice.

The Performance Exhibition Series is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator, and Jenny Schlenzka, Assistant Curator for Performance, Department of Media and Performance Art.

The Performance Exhibition Series is made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

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