For this reason, I found myself in Long Island City this Saturday walking to the MoMA PS1. I had planned only as far as transferring to the L train from Grand Central and getting off at the Court House stop. From there I walked a few blocks and found myself outside of an old primary school building with “PS1” painting along one side. I wasn’t sure what I was about to happen, but bought a ticket anyways.
The museum opens at noon Thursday through Monday. I got there at 12:20, and pretty much had the place to myself. Apart from the desk clerk that sold me my ticket, the docents guarding each room and the occasional hipster, there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic. This made navigating awkward. I had no one to follow. I didn’t know how long to look at a painting. I just aimlessly walked from one installation to the next, stopping for random intervals at each in order to absorb that art. It’s not that the building was excessively expansive. It was just organized in a modern way. It was free flowing. I was used to being funneled through exhibits, arrows painted on the floor telling me where to go and when to look. This wasn’t the case. Apart from the paper map in my hand, there weren’t any directions to be had. Plaques on the walls explained each artist and their works, but left me to figure out the rest for myself. So I wandered. I walked up and down hallways, retracing my steps and passing past the same people more than twice. I started to see the exhibits and installations as landmarks. In an attempt to keep my barrings, I
kept track of the exhibits I had passed, like breadcrumbs, finding new ones by retracing my steps. I would stop every so often and peer through the doorways around me in an attempt to figure out where I was based on what I could see around me. It worked for the most part.
Actually, being lost kind of helped. It left me in rooms for longer than I would’ve been if I knew what I was doing or where I was going. I sat and listened to the entire fourteen minutes of Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet. I watched Chim↑Pom’s video for all 100 cheers. I took the time to walk up and down staircase B in search of Alexis Rockman’s Unititled.
One of my favorite installations was Surasi Kusolwong’s Golden Ghost. The artist had filled a room with thread waste, which is just what it sounds like, a lot of string. Within this mess she hid gold necklaces, free for whoever finds them. The room was complete with benches and a mirror that reads, “Golden Ghost The Future Belongs to Ghosts.” It was like the ball pits of my childhood. Except this wasn’t Chuck E Cheese’s and it had an underlying message of consumerism. This didn’t stop me from making yarn angels and mucking around.
Image Source: MoMA PS1