In January I wrote about five artists who had come into MoMA’s collection through Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015, the most recent iteration of the New Photography series, which has a long history of bringing new works by young artists into the Museum. Since then, we’ve been excited to add work by more New Photography artists, include DIS, Katharina Gaenssler, and Lieko Shiga.
DIS’s mesmerizing video of Conchita Wurst not only stopped many museumgoers in their tracks, but subway riders as well—DIS’s images of Conchita were also the marketing campaign for the exhibition. It is only fitting, then, that the video joins the MoMA collection; it even features the MoMA logo as an invented watermark right through the middle. This generous gift from the artists ensures that Conchita will grace the walls of MoMA again in the future, provoking questions about celebrity, identity, and image making.
Katharina Gaenssler is another artist who was commissioned by MoMA to create a work for the exhibition, and she took MoMA’s relationship with the Bauhaus as her subject. After installing one of her site-specific photomurals, Gaenssler always makes a photobook of the thousands of images that made up the mural, as an archive of the no-longer-extant work. MoMA has added the book to the collection, as both a record of the photomural and as an artist’s book in its own right.
Lieko Shiga’s photographs from the series Rasen Kaigan were some of the most popular works in Ocean of Images, and the curators are excited that the images are now in the Museum’s collection—though they enter the collection in a different format. In the installation the photographs leaned (seemingly) casually against the walls in a darkened room, which is one way Shiga displays her work. Another format she uses is more traditional, though: framed prints, which is the version of the work that the Museum acquired.
Often, of course, artists don’t fit into the historical categories that a Museum like MoMA is built on. Although Basim Magdy was featured in Ocean of Images, his art takes many forms, including video and projection. Recently, the departments of Photography and Media and Performance Art engaged in a cross-museum initiative to acquire multiple works by Magdy, to better represent his output in our collection. As MoMA’s director, Glenn Lowry, has said, we have to “follow the artists wherever they go.”