MoMA PS1’s closely watched investigation ‘Greater New York’ returns to delve into New York’s past and consider its surreal present


In the last category, she highlighted the work of photographer Marilyn Nance, famous for her work on African American life and the African diaspora in New York City (and beyond, although the works in this exhibition focus on the New York City), as well as Hiram Maristany who grew up in East Harlem and regularly documented the life of the close-knit Puerto Rican community.

works by Hiram Maristany in “Greater New York”. Photo by Ben Davis.

Maristany was the official photographer for the militant group known as the Young Lords, Katrib noted. In addition to protests in which they have asserted their rights, the Lords have also participated in activities in support of the East Harlem community, including organizing clothing drives and picking up trash.

Katrib pointed to a more contemporary documentary impulse in the work of Black Mass Publishing, a collective established in 2018. The group publishes zines and books of new content and archival black artists aimed at fostering new conversations about production. black culture.

Installation view of the Blackmass Publishing gallery in "Greater New York." Photo by Ben Davis.

Installation view of the Blackmass Publishing gallery in “Greater New York”. Photo by Ben Davis.

In “Greater New York”, a gallery, nicknamed “Black Mass Publishing Study Hall,” features a library of zines and brochures to browse.

Another work that seems to sum up the rough days of downtown New York City is poet Diane Burns’ video. Standing in front of vacant lots strewn with rubbish and rubble, against the backdrop of ghostly buildings, Burns is captured reciting her poem, Alphabet town serenade, his voice looping through the galleries.

Vidéo de Diane Burns, <em>Poetry Spots: Diane Burns reads 'Alphabet City Serenade'</em> (1989) in

Video by Diane Burns, Poetry spots: Diane Burns reads ‘Alphabet City Serenade’ (1989) in “Greater New York”. Photo by Ben Davis.

Burns, who was born in Kansas to a Chemehuevi father and an Anishinabe mother, ruminates on “Loisada” in relation to her life at home. “Hey man, can you spare a cigarette?” Do you know of a place to sublet? She exclaims.

Katrib pointed out that Japanese-American artist Yuji Agematsu used a mixture of documentary and surrealism to convey his experience. zip: 01.01.20. . .12: 31.20 (2020) is a massive but delicate mural work composed of a series of display cases.

Un des cas de Yuji Agematsu, <em>zip: 01.01.20.  .  .12: 31.20</em> (2020).  Photo by Ben Davis.

One of Yuji Agematsu’s case, zip: 01.01.20. . .12: 31.20 (2020). Photo by Ben Davis.

Inside each is a “calendar” with individual days depicted as intact cellophane cigarette wrappers that serve as containers for the debris the artist has collected and placed inside on a particular day – chewing gum, capsules. of bottles, scraps of paper – after collecting them from the streets of New York.

“It’s like that calendar archive document, but it’s also very surreal and abstract,” Katrib explains.

Works by G. Peter Jemison in "Greater New York." Photo by Ben Davis.

works by G. Peter Jemison in “Greater New York”. Photo by Ben Davis.

The show focuses on issues related to indigeneity. You see this, for example, in the work of G. Peter Jemison, a registered member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. But it also has an international reach, incorporating the work of artists from Brazil, Iran, Lebanon and Egypt, often addressing issues of attempted integration and feelings of estrangement.

The curatorial team also includes writer and curator Serubiri Moses, MoMA PS1 director Kate Fowle, and MoMA Latin American art curator Inés Katzenstein. After more than a year of lockdown and planning, including Zoom studio tours with artists who were only minutes away, the show they produced seems both timely and relevant.

“The situation we find ourselves in now only underscores and underscores the things that artists were already facing,” Katrib explains. “I think one of the biggest challenges was just the isolation, especially for the older generation of artists who were more at risk. We really wanted to respect and honor that New York is a city where different generations of artists can be together and support each other. “

“Greater New York” is on view at MoMA PS1 in New York until April 18, 2022.

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