Klara Liden at MoMA




This kind of project is one of the things that we have not been seeing often enough at MoMA, and that was the case even before the opening of the new building. Since there's now more space, there's less of an excuse then ever to keep "emerging artists and new art"* out of our premier modern mouseion, founded and endowed as the premier "seat of the (here, visual) muses".

Maybe some people understand "modern" in a way that does not include the "contemporary", and MoMA's decision not to engage in the regular deaccession of works in its collection which reach a certain age might explain what seems to be the museum's frequent uneasiness with art being created in real time. I hope the appearance of Klara Liden on the second floor gallery signals a new openness on 53rd Street.

I've been one of the many champions of this artist's work since first encountering it inside the storefront of the old Reena Spaulings four years ago, and yesterday during a press preview Barry and I were both charmed to see her working again with cardboard, this time inside a very different space.

Not everyone might agree with us, at least at first, as I learned when we were about to leave the room. A smartly-dressed woman all in black, of a certain age, who, along with several other women, also in black, had been in conversation with the curator, Eva Respini, asked us if we liked the work. I immediately volunteered, "yes", with a little giddy enthusiasm. She asked me why, and I first described Liden's earlier work. Turning to this installation, I mentioned the re-cycling element, the ransacking of the museum's bowels, the white cube, the reference to consumerism (even in a museum context) and waste, the careful ordering of materials, and such. She looked up at the rows of cardboard boxes, broken down and tied, lined up high above the pure white walls, and she nodded, apparently unpersuaded of its virtues. She thanked me, and as she turned to leave, while she passed by I distinctly heard her give a very soft sigh.

Respini told us that the accompanying video of the artist casting stones into the water had only been finished last weekend. It has a more casual air, than the structure behind it, which almost fills the room. At the time I took this picture the huge window behind the heavily-tinted glass (which turned daylight into something like the twilight East River scene on the screen, and also cast a blue light on the cube) was partly filled by a New York cab and a parked school bus, painted an identical yellow. It reminded me of the fact that MoMA routinely hosts visits of young school children on the days it is closed to the public, and we encountered one such very fortunate group, probably a kindergarden class, minutes later on our way out.

Now that's even more than contemporary. May the gods save this kind of temple forever.