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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Miracle on 53rd Street

I've visited MoMA a couple times in the last week. On Christmas Eve, I noticed that all the works on a wall in the contemporary galleries had been taken down. The Ruscha, Celmins, Acconci, Long, and Kawara were all gone. Only the Joan Jonas video being projected onto the wall remained.

The inventory cards authorizing the removal didn't give a reason for the de-installation, and none of the guards on the floor knew what had happened. "As long as there wasn't any damage," I thought, "it's no great loss. The installation was one of the weakest in the house." Such an aggressive Jonas video running next to that meditative Celmins ocean drawing (at right) didn't really work.

Yesterday when I returned, the works still hadn't been re-installed, but I was able to find someone who knew what happened.

It turns out that the wall had been weeping at the tragedy that was that installation.

No, really. It's true.

Skeptics will claim that the loading dock is on the other side of this wall and that last week's cold snap caused condensation to form inside the gallery, putting the works on paper at risk. But I know these people are just aesthetic atheists. I prefer to believe that the building was saddened by what was hanging on that wall and that it decided to do something to call attention to the problem.

Guess what. It worked.

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