But is it art? At MoMA

One more shot at this topic, after the High Line and the Whitney: a piece in the July/August 2014 Atlantic: “The Most Modern Curator: Why Paola Antonelli put Pac-Man, a mine detonator, and a vial of sweat in the Museum of Modern Art” by Megan Garber:

On the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, if you go to the bank of windows overlooking 54th Street and then turn right, you will find some synthetic sweat. The liquid, stored in a short glass vial, mimics the perspiration of cage fighters—collected just after a bout and chemically analyzed using a technique known as gas chromatography. It is slightly viscous. It is slightly yellow. It is slightly disgusting.

Which is the point. The vial is part of Design and Violence, an installation co-produced by Jamer Hunt and Paola Antonelli, one of MoMA’s most prominent, and provocative, curators. As a physical representation of some of humanity’s most enduring features — sex, aggression, smelliness — the bottle’s manufactured contents are both entirely and not at all natural. “We wanted objects that have an ambiguous relationship with violence,” Antonelli says, by way of explaining the installation’s selections, each of which — a stiletto heel, a self-guided bullet, a chalk outline of a drone — is meant to emphasize design’s power not just to solve problems but also to create them.

And on a slightly different front:

One of Antonelli’s most remarked-upon MoMA exhibitions is … a collection of video games that includes Pac-Man, Myst, Tetris, SimCity 2000, Space Invaders, and Minecraft. The games are displayed, yes, but they are also meant to be played: they’re examples of interaction design, or what Antonelli calls “the design of a behavior.”

… You don’t bring Minecraft to MoMA, however, without provoking some “whither culture?” chattering among the art-world elite. Pac-Man so close to Picasso! As The Guardian sniffed in late 2012, months before the exhibit opened: “Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art.”

One Response to “But is it art? At MoMA”

  1. Peter Mendelsund | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] “But is it art? At MoMA”, on two exhibitions at […]

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