Diller + Scofidio, Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio. The MoMA Wall. 2003
  • Not on view

This video chronicles the removal of a wall fragment from one of The Museum of Modern Art’s galleries and its subsequent installation and “immolation” on the fourth floor of The Whitney Museum of American Art in 2003, on the occasion of Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidio, a retrospective exhibition of the firm’s work. The video follows the wall fragment from its original setting at MoMA, where it was home to the enigmatic work 3 Standard Stoppages (1913–14) by Marcel Duchamp, a perennial source of inspiration for Diller + Scofidio. The fragment itself was worthless, but its past interaction with a resonant work of art made it invaluable for the architects. Its appropriation and transformation—including the ritualistic perforation of its pristine surface—are the material of an installation that, in its incorporation of and inherent commentary on MoMA, is both related to the art practice of institutional critique and a provocative displacement of accepted architectural discourses and modes of expression.

Gallery label from 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design, September 12, 2012–March 25, 2013.
Additional text

The MoMA Wall chronicles the removal of a wall fragment from one of the galleries at The Museum of Modern Art and its subsequent installation and "immolation" at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition of the firm's work in 2003. The video follows the wall from its original setting in MoMA’s collection galleries, where it was once home to the enigmatic work 3 Standard Stoppages (1913–14) by Marcel Duchamp, an artist for whom Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have a long-held passion.

At the time of the wall’s extraction, while MoMA was undergoing renovation, the gallery was the home of the contractor’s office. The fragment—showing the original white color and the layers of paint built-up over the years—was grafted to a bigger network of white walls within the Whitney Museum in an installation called Mural, in which these walls were pierced randomly by a programmed drill running on track. When in front of the MoMA “aura,” the drill changed its logic and made its holes in the form of a regular, even grid, as can be seen in the fragment shown here. Bringing this video into MoMA’s collection adds a link to this chain of events and closes the circle.

Gallery label from Rough Cut: Design Takes a Sharp Edge, November 26, 2008–October 12, 2009.
Video (color, sound)
Duration: 2 min., 45 sec.
Gift of the architects
Object number
© 2023 Diller + Scofidio
Architecture and Design

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