June 29, 2010  |  Events & Programs, MoMA PS1
Greater New York 2010: Artists Present

David Brooks. Terra Incognitae—Rainforest Canopy (Cronos version) (installation at the Sculpture Center through July 27, 2010). 2010. Photo courtesy of the artist

How much can you say about a work of art in twenty-five seconds? That’s the challenge we posed to ten artists whose work is featured in Greater New York 2010, on view through October 18, 2010, at MoMA PS1. Last Wednesday, we invited five of these artists to join us at MoMA for the first session of Greater New York 2010: Artists Present, a two-part public program wherein artists in the show are invited to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at their work and their creative processes using a twenty-image PowerPoint presentation. The catch? Each image is only onscreen for twenty-five seconds, and the artists don’t have control of the slideshow! It’s almost like art speed-dating!

The impetus for this program—in addition to giving a voice to emerging young local artistic talent in the metropolitan New York area—was to collaborate in some way cross-institutionally with MoMA PS1. As twelve-month interns working in the Education Department at MoMA, this program was our initial opportunity to fully conceive and organize a program from start to finish. Exciting stuff!

Greater New York 2010 features work by artists who engage in a wide range of art practices and mediums. So saying, the first session featured five artists who are currently working in the medium of photography: Xaviera Simmons, David Benjamin Sherry, Pinar Yolaçan, Erin Shirreff, and Michele Abeles. Christopher Lew, Manager of Curatorial Affairs and the Exhibition Funding Liaison at MoMA PS1, provided the audience with an overview of the exhibition, and moderated the audience Q+A following the presentations. Each artist approached this interesting presentation style in their own way: variously dynamic, nervous, and anticipatory. Several artists talked about how challenging it can be to share something so personal with the public, especially given the daunting task of trying to condense their creative practice into 8.5 minutes of selected sound bites.

So why put these artists under the additional pressure of time limits? We felt that a great advantage of this presentation style is that the audience comes to the program with an expectation of the length of time they will be hearing from each presenter. Gone are the days of audience members restlessly fidgeting and furtively glancing at their watches; instead, as one visitor mentioned, the quick-fire format allowed people to fully engage in the ideas and images being presented, knowing that each artist would have exactly 8.5 minutes of their time.

Erin Shirreff. Teeth (detail). 2010. Gelatin silver photograph. Courtesy of the artist and Lisa Cooley, New York

After all, the average person’s attention span is supposedly no more than twenty minutes! One of the other advantages, expressed by presenter David Benjamin Sherry, was how nice it was to bring the artists together to meet and hear about each other’s work, as many of them had not met during the exhibition’s installation.

Our intention is to offer a brief glimpse at or taste of what the Greater New York 2010 artists are concerned with, inspired by, and are exploring in their work. It is our hope that these presentations will entice the audience and their friends to visit the exhibition at MoMA PS1 in Queens! So, please come join us this Wednesday, June 30, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. for the second session, featuring artists David Brooks, Liz Magic Laser, Ryan McNamara, Amir Mogharabi, and A.L. Steiner, and moderated by Eva Respini, Associate Curator in the Department of Photography at MoMA. We’ll be in Theater 3 in the Education and Research Building at MoMA. Looking forward to seeing you there!