Newsletter Issue:
Spring 2014

New York Residency 2014: MoMA PS1

by Dawn H. Tritch

Mike Kelley at MoMA PS1 (by Dawn H. Tritch)
Mike Kelley at MoMA PS1 (by Dawn H. Tritch)

Our recent visit to MoMA PS1 was a first for me. Located in a formerly abandoned Romanesque Revival public school building, it seemed outwardly to be an unlikely spot for the most modern of artists founded by Alanna Heiss in 1971. I was unsure what the PS 1 stands for—was it Public School 1, Postal Script 1 to the MoMA or what? Unfortunately their website doesn’t reveal such secrets.

So with that mystery unsolved and having dropped off my coat, I began exploring the basement. The lure of glittering gold drew me into Saul Melman’s Central Governor, where the ancient boiler and surrounding fixtures were covered in gold leaf like some sort of enchanted steam punk world. It was only with reluctance I could drag myself away in hopes of finding other treasures. Further down the basement hall I happened upon Sol LeWitt’s Crayola Square, which seemed the very antithesis of Melman’s creation. As a result, it was easier to continue on up the stairs in my exploration.

There was indeed much to discover, more than can be noted here. In memoriam to Mike Kelly (1954-2012), PS1 had devoted the majority of their space to displaying over 200 of his works that ranged from gross—the dirty multicolored stuffed animal clouds that emitted choking “deodorizing” clouds of spray and sent me sneezing and gagging from the space—to the funny Dr. Seuss-like Animation 2,6,19, and 20 animated videos on flat screen monitors in the hallway—to the slightly disturbing John Glenn Memorial Detroit River Reclamation Project of carefully collected and displayed-by-color trash (how awful that so much trash ends up in rivers) that reminded me of the couple, Richard Lang and Judith Shelby Lang with their Plastic Forever project on Kehoe Beach, California—to the glowing jewel-like cities of Kandor. These miniature worlds seemed to represent the apex of my journey in which I had travelled from dungeons of Aladdin’s cave up onto the planet Krypton in the futuristic DC Universe of Superman.

Dawn H. Tritch with Keith Godard’s “Memories of Twenty-Third Street“, 2002 glass mosaic on platform walls. 23rd Street (“R” line).

Other discoveries included Alan Saret’s The Hole at P.S.1, Fifth Sola Chthonic Wall Temple. This was a bit of a puzzle, why would there be a hole in the wall and where was the temple? I wondered. Well, it wasn’t the legendary NYC sewer rats at work, but the intentional choice to allow a focused beam of light to shine in at certain times and highlight the floor. I just hoped that any would-be robbers are unaware of the weakened wall in that area of the museum.

With time rapidly slipping away, I came to the last must-see of my now-worn museum map: Ernesto Caivano’s In the Woods, in Stairwell A. If the rest of the museum had not appealed to my love of fairy tales, then this certainly did, with its silhouetted figures beneath over-arching trees recalling a plenitude of tales from the nursery. Running down the steps, I wished I had hours more, a sketch pad and solitude to really drink in the thoughts stirred in the experience…certainly I shall have to go back some day!

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