Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I hate (my) MoMA

Every time I visit the Museum of Modern Art I must remind myself that there are still probably more decent reasons for visiting the museum than not, although the perpetual excess of crowds, the smells of food wafting through the loud echoing galleries, the odious little children allowed to scream & run unchecked, all tend to make me regret the decision to enter 11 W. 53rd St.

I must remind myself that when I lived in Podunk, USA (i.e. Michigan), that my casual visits to what is now a vortex of buzzing throngs were dreams not-yet-come-true.

& also my gripes are not specific to MoMA, although the new architecture does seem to amplify the sounds. In contrast to dour MI, where interest in any art is assumed to be a sign of morbidity if not outright perversity, in NYC the arts are more a spectator sport (& treated as such as well). One wonders about the experience of looking at art in crowds akin to that in a transportation hub or shopping mall. I think of the "loss of aura" as described by Walter Benjamin, as a result of technology, of mechanical reproducibility of images. For Benjamin such a loss erodes the heirarchies of imagery as a conduit of power, the physical tangibility of art becomes a moot point in lieu of its technological circulation. Our new museums with their emphasis on screaming bumping crowds reify a different experience of art, as possession, as thing, as object, & yet make it senseless, stupid, indifferent - by exalting it in such a manner it becomes next to nothing beyond a tool of class difference, a brief tabloid moment of culture.

The crowds at the Met are probably larger, however the Met at least has galleries that are either too out-of-the-way or are just downright unpopular, in which one can find some peace & quiet. MoMA is designed to be always crowded, everywhere. Alas.

Alas & I realize I either have to endure it or not go. How much pleasanter art is looking at it in a book, though . . .

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