At one point during the installation of Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015, one of the MoMA art handlers asked, “Where are all the photos?” It’s a valid question. For an exhibition of photography, Ocean of Images contains fewer framed pictures than one would expect. But part of what the exhibition investigates is the liquidity of photographs—both through the maritime metaphor of the Internet, where we “surf” and try to avoid “pirates,” and through the malleability of images, which can appear (as they do in this exhibition) as sculptures, zines, framed prints, book pages, cutout displays, videos, murals, and paper stacks.
The variety of materials and mediums involved in the exhibition made for a challenging but exciting installation process. Above, the art handlers carefully slide a sheet of laminated glass with a UV-cured inkjet print on it into the steel frame of Marina Pinsky’s Role Model Drei (Role Model Three). Behind it you can see one of three internal sheets of resin, which give the work a glowing translucence.
The amazing MoMA carpenters built a replica of the Lorimer Street/Metropolitan Avenue subway station newsstand space, in order to fill it with the materials (and people) who made The Newsstand a crowded, collaborative, generative space when it first appeared in the subway station from June 2013 to January 2014. Our re-creation does what it can to evoke what it felt like to be in that space—right down to the white and green tiles and the fluorescent lighting—but it isn’t complete without the community of artists that inhabit the installation four afternoons a week.
Here, prints in the Edson Chagas work Found Not Taken, Luanda are shown stacked on the pallets they arrived on, and after they’ve been transferred to the pallets they sit on in the galleries at MoMA. These take-away images are not meant to remain stacked, though; they require the interaction of our thousands of visitors, who take them away to hang on a wall, toss in the garbage, or give away, distributing Chagas’s work throughout the world.
There are, of course, some framed photographs in the installation, including this grid of 30 images by Basim Magdy. Like Magdy’s piece, many of the artworks in the exhibition have specific installation layouts, so our art handlers carefully followed each artist’s specifications. At the same time, one of the most exciting parts of working with living artists is that they can change things…and frequently do!