March 8, 2010  |  Events & Programs
Eavesdropping and Poetry in the MoMA Galleries

Matthew Rohrer and Joshua Beckman

“You know who has a really cool Christopher Walken impersonation? Oh wait, you don’t know this person…” “I’m a real bot…”  Do you ever catch the tail end of a stranger’s conversation, then begin to weave the rest of the tale on your own? How much do you embellish what might be a very simple story? And have you ever eavesdropped on other people’s conversations at MoMA?

While you might imagine that a lot of the discussions taking place in the Museum galleries have to do with the art on the walls, poets Matthew Rohrer and Joshua Beckman have discovered otherwise. Roaming the Museum and riding its elevators for three days in February and March, they have been snooping on other people’s chatter, and they found that it’s not so much about the art. Many of the conversations are incomprehensible to them, not because Rohrer and Beckman only understand art-speak, but because so many MoMA visitors these days are speaking other languages besides English

That won’t stop Rohrer and Beckman, and the MoMA Teen Voices Project students they are training to eavesdrop, from transforming those overheard words and narratives into poetry about works in the Museum’s collection. We hope you’ll join us for Eavesdrop on March 15, at both 6:00 and 7:30 p.m., when Modern Poets (our long-running series of readings and performances, in which poets and writers reflect upon modern and contemporary art and culture) brings Rohrer and Beckman to the fourth-floor galleries after hours. They’ll share their findings, and lead audience members on a poetic, performative tour of works by Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Fluxus artists, and more. Come on! “You can go anywhere you like, because you are a great actor…!”