MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, sixth floor
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Through January 4, $14-$25 (sixteen and under free)
The new MoMA is all about making the most of its collection via diversity, which is just what it does with “Surrounds: 11 Installations,” ten key twenty-first-century architectural works, and one from 1998, that have never been displayed at the museum before. The show includes work by living artists from America, Cuba, Germany, Japan, India, Brazil, and the Netherlands, taking up all of the sixth floor. Inspired by her love of nature as a child, Sheila Hicks’s Pillar of Inquiry / Supple Column, which is outside the gallery space, is composed of lushly colored thick strands of acrylic fiber that pour down through the ceiling of MoMA’s top floor, evoking a kind of rainbow beanstalk reaching into the heavens. Hito Steyerl compares climate change to the 2008 financial crisis in Liquidity Inc. in telling the story of former financial analyst Jacob Wood, who became a mixed-martial-arts fighter; viewers sit on torn judo mats, which Steyerl describes as a storm-ravaged raft, while watching DIY-style news reports that are hijacked by masked anarchists. Arthur Jafa’s APEX features eight-plus minutes of 841 fast-moving images focusing on black culture, from Tupac and Miles Davis to Mickey Mouse and Mick Jagger, set to electronic club beats.
Sou Fujimoto’s Architecture Is Everywhere comprises dozens of miniature constructions made of common objects on small plinths with tiny little white figures on them. Twigs with a woman sitting on a bench and a man standing nearby are accompanied by the statement “The forest is always to me the archetype of architecture.” Screws with figures relaxing on top of them are joined by the words “Different heights are in fact different worlds. A new set of relationships between people.” Visitors contribute to Rivane Neuenschwander’s Work of Days merely by walking through a room of transparent adhesive contact sheets from her studio that collect dust from each of us. Press the button to start Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The Killing Machine, a kinetic sculpture, based in part on Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony,” that transforms a dentist visit into an execution, with multiple television screens and a disco ball but no apparent victim.
Every hour on the hour between eleven and four, two boy sopranos enter Allora & Calzadilla’s Fault Lines and perform beautiful choral music composed by Guarionex Morales-Matos with confrontational words taken from major literary sources as the singers make their way through a room filled with stone sculptures. The exhibition, which also includes works by Sadie Benning, Mark Manders, and Dayanita Singh, concludes with Sarah Sze’s crowd-pleasing Triple Point (Pendulum), a delicate large-scale intimate circular environment of hundreds of objects, from books, rocks, photographs, and styrofoam cups to water bottles, cracker boxes, lamps, and levels. A tenuously attached pendulum swings from above, in danger of bringing the whole thing down like a wrecking ball, but it never quite makes contact with any of the detritus, which also evokes Sze’s studio. There’s an inviting opening at one side, but viewers know not to step inside this intricately created world, the title of which refers to water’s ability to exist in three states: ice, liquid, and steam. “Surrounds: 11 Installations” bodes well for what the new MoMA has in store.