In 2000, MoMA PS1 debuted one of the most groundbreaking exhibitions to reoccur every five years, “Greater New York,” highlighting works from varying artists that are living and working in the New York metropolitan area. Since the survey’s first version, many markets have seen great change—real estate, mass media, and fashion—and much has changed in the art world too.
Caught between a time of nostalgia for art, technology, architecture, and design of earlier times, “Greater New York” shifts its focus of youth to instead examine points of connection and tension between our desire for what is new, and the loss that comes along with replacement and displacement.
“The question of nostalgia is an important one for me because I must confess that I cannot help but feel nostalgia for the New York of my youth. On the one hand, it’s purely personal—it was my youth—but also, from the perspective of both artists living and working here and queers inventing and enjoying the pleasures of the new gay liberation culture, it was a more useable city,” said Douglas Crimp, a Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester, and one of the four curators of the show. “Can nostalgia also be productive? Are there important lessons to be learned by seeing what has been lost and comparing it to what has replaced it?”
With over 400 pieces of art by 157 different artists, this year’s exhibition was curated to demonstrate New York’s increasingly appropriated existence by a team of dedicated art professionals in New York including: Peter Eleey, Curator and Associate Director of Exhibitions and Programs, MoMA PS1; Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art; and Mia Locks, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1; and aforementioned Crimp.
“‘Greater New York’ has traditionally fed a demand for the new. It seemed that this time around, the exercise provided an opportunity to reflect on the structure of the exhibition, and the needs it has traditionally served,” said Eleey.
Throughout this year’s exhibition, you will see historical photographs—such as Rosalind Fox Solomon’s 1976 image Liberty Scaffolded, where scaffolding surrounds the Statue of Liberty in a stage of construction—and a number of videos, paintings, and mixed-media pieces. The fashion installation by Living Archive Slow and Steady Wins the Race shows an alternative to rapid cycles of new styles with seasonless, universal, and unchanging fashion attire and accessories displayed on an open and oversized wooden spiral staircase. There are Harlem housedresses plastered to satellite dishes with resin and soil, and fixed to the wall by a standard television mount by Kevin Beasley. A serial order of one family’s prison visitation pictures are displayed in Deana Lawson’s 2013 creation of Mohawk Correctional Facility: Jasmine & Family.
You may also see a “lesbian campaign” by the four-woman art collective fierce pussy in For The Record—enlarged, protesting words that cover the wall for the experience, mourning, loss, and misrepresentation of HIV/AIDS. In addition, artist Donald Moffett shows a linen canvas painted in oil and enamel that serves as a backdrop for a video projection in Gold/Tunnel. In this flickering video of the Ramble (Central Park’s densely wooded area that once was a prominent area for public sex, and is now frequented for bird watching), a recollection of the past is visited, and a gesture to the present is offered as a dog runs through a tunnel and toward the viewer.
The topics in this exhibition are vast, but their premises are all the same—New York, and its ever-changing, ever-present, presence.