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MoMA’s Cool Little Sister: MoMA PS1

Published on
May 10

MoMA PS 1, housed in an old school building, is like the MoMA’s cool little sister with a focus on the cutting edge in contemporary art. Located in Long Island City, MoMA PS 1 is just a few subway stops on the E from the MoMA, so you can easily squeeze in two museum’s worth of viewing pleasure in the span of a day. Right across from MoMA PS 1 is the aerosol-adorned 5 Pointz, an industrial warehouse displaying the work of countless graffiti artists across its walls. the warehouse itself is worth the trip out to Long Island City, and makes for a picturesque contrast against the stark concrete structure of the courtyard outside MoMA PS 1.

As a constantly changing exhibition space, MoMA PS1 does not set out to collect, but rather creates a unique environment for the temporary installment of a diverse range of pieces. It retains much of the original architecture of the school building that it was once programmed to be, and transforms classrooms and tight stairwells into galleries. The space is currently under the process of installation, but possesses a few permanent pieces which are still worth seeing.

Along the labyrinthine stairwells are the anamorphic, black and white drawings of William Kentridge and a painting by Cecily Brown, distorted by the cracked and brittle paint texture of the walls. My favorite permanent piece is Meeting, by James Turrell, a perfectly square room with a razor-sharp skylight. The piece, due to the thinness of the ceiling, creates the effect of a perfect patch of sky that one is welcome to bask under on a sunny day, while relaxing on the light wooden benches that encircle the compact room.

The basement, which houses the old broiler of the school house contains even more subtle pieces. Small interventions like Sol LeWitt’s Crayola Square, which is exactly what the title suggests, can go unnoticed in the dark and dank space, but demonstrate how the unique architecture of the school house provides new opportunities for artists to develop their work according to the space rather than isolate itself as an object in the traditionally stark white gallery.

MoMA PS1’s sole temporary piece (which was shown till April 27), was a short film titled Alberi, by Italian artist Michelangelo Frammartino. Installed in a temporary geodesic dome, visitors were invited to lay across the floor, while Frammartino’s whimsical short, telling a mythical story about the trees of the Italian countryside coming to life, was projected on the walls of the dome.

On May 12, MoMA PS1 is set to launch its newest exhibit, EXPO 1: NEW YORK, which will show new work all across its galleries. I truly recommend heading out then to see the space in its full exhibition state.