MoMA PS1 is one of the largest art institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. It is located in the Long Island City neighborhood in the borough of Queens, New York City. In addition to its exhibitions, the institution organizes the Sunday Sessions performance series, the Warm Up summer music series, and the Young Architects Program with the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA PS1 has been affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art since January 2000 and, as of 2013, attracts about 200,000 visitors a year.
I enjoy visiting MoMA PS1 every time I am in New York. It always feels like the more accessible little sister to MoMA in Manhattan. It is easier to navigate and I appreciate how much love it shines out in maintaining the school house and the eccentric art that it holds.
Long-term installations at MoMA PS1 can be seen year-round. These site-specific installations range in scale and medium; some are obvious to the eye while others are more subtly placed. Many installations have remained on view since the 1970s, when MoMA PS1 was The Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc. Since MoMA PS1 is the largest non-collecting contemporary art institution in the world, these works belong to the artists. Be sure to check out the hallways, the floors, the stairwells and the brick work in the space. They hold beautiful nuances from artists perfectly hidden but always willing to tell a story to you.
On my recent visit I revelled in Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds “Surviving Active Shooter Custer (Through September 8) exhibit. For more than three decades, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation, b. 1954) has worked as an artist, activist, and teacher. Based in Oklahoma City and on tribal land, where he has lived since 1981, Heap of Birds consistently creates works that confront repressed or unacknowledged histories of state and settler violence against Native communities in the United States. His work often draws parallels between historical violence and ongoing injustices today. By employing the contemporary term “active shooter” to characterize massacres committed by U.S. troops against Native Americans over a century ago, Heap of Birds reanimates the past in the language of the present. In so doing, he points to the violence of history itself: the power of a dominant culture to erase, forget, or otherwise obscure its own acts of oppression.
Across his drawings, prints, and spatial interventions—such as the steel parking signs that appear throughout the building, alluding to the forced relocation of Native communities, including those in New York, to Oklahoma in the 1830s as part of the Trail of Tears—Heap of Birds harnesses the power of familiar forms and expressions for political ends. In his recent installations of monoprints and their corresponding “ghost prints,” the artist culls poetic fragments from a wide range of sources, appropriating popular music, sayings taken from reservation social gatherings, written accounts of historical events, and political speeches, among others. By transforming vernacular language into monumental works of art resembling grids of protest posters, Heap of Birds blurs the boundaries between aesthetics, pedagogy, and activism, creating a body of work that opens new critical perspectives on American histories and cultures.
Hot Tip: Go down to the basement and check out the boiler room! 🙂
Take your time at MoMA PS1. Enjoy a meal in their cafeteria and be ready to leave with an education.