Did you know that museum visitors spend an average of three seconds looking at a work of art? What can a viewer possibly glean from that brief encounter? When I invited poets Matthew Rohrer and Joshua Beckman to do a reading at MoMA, I knew that they would be able to change that statistic for a lucky few. They know how to encourage diverse audiences to join them in the process not only of composing poems, but of looking at and contemplating art and creating a fresh experience with it. So I challenged them to use MoMA’s public as a resource to write poems about works of art in the collection or about the museum experience in general. In their preliminary field work, they spied on museum goers, listened to their conversations, recorded people’s activities, and trained a group of teens from MoMA’s Teen Voices Project to do the same. Our goal was to bring an assortment of people, art, and poetry together, and to spawn unexpected social interactions.
Posts tagged ‘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
In planning the programs for MoMA’s Bauhaus Lab, we wanted to give the public the opportunity not only to experience original Bauhaus curricula, but also to meet contemporary artists with multidisciplinary practices in an experimental spirit similar to the Bauhaus. The L.A.-based collective Machine Project most definitely falls into this category. (Machine’s approach to pedagogy as performance was previously presented this year at MoMA during the symposium Transpedagogy: Contemporary Art and the Vehicles of Education.)
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