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Museum of Modern Art hosts Meta-Monumental Garage Sale by Martha Rosler
Garage Sale. Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria, 1999.

NEW YORK, NY.- For her first solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, from November 17 through 30, 2012, multimedia performance artist Martha Rosler (American) will present her work Meta-Monumental Garage Sale, a large-scale version of the classic American garage sale, in the Museum’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium. MoMA visitors will be able to browse and purchase second-hand goods that are organized, displayed, and sold by the artist and her floor assistants. The installation is organized by Sabine Breitwieser, Chief Curator, and Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, with Jill A. Samuels, Performance Producer, Department of Media and Performance Art.

Meta-Monumental Garage Sale will fill MoMA’s Marron Atrium with strange and everyday objects—clothes, books, records, toys, bric-a-brac, costume jewelry, artworks, mementos, and other miscellaneous items—donated by the artist, her family and friends, Museum staff, and the general public, creating a lively space for exchange, not only for consumer goods, but also for real and fictive narratives, ideas, and interactions with the artist. Rosler will be running the sale on a daily basis, engaging with Museum visitors, who will be encouraged to browse merchandise, choose items to buy, haggle over prices, and make purchases. Customers will also be invited to have their photographs taken with their purchases. All transactions will be cash-only.

Martha Rosler is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of her generation, one whose artistic practice, teaching, and writing continue to influence succeeding generations. For more than 40 years, Rosler has made art about the commonplace, art that illuminates social life, examining the everyday through photography, performance, video, and installation.

The Meta-Monumental Garage Sale at MoMA is a successor to a work originally held (as Monumental Garage Sale) in the art gallery of the University of California at San Diego in 1973. The work was advertised simultaneously as a garage sale in local newspapers and as an art event within the local art scene. A chalkboard on site bore the legend, “Maybe the Garage Sale is a metaphor for the mind,” and a slide show of a seemingly typical suburban white family, bought at a local estate sale, played continuously while an audiotape loop offered a meditation on the role of commodities in contemporary life. The Garage Sale, which has also been held at the Generali Foundation, Vienna (1999); the Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona (1999); the New Museum, New York (2000); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2004); and The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2005), among other venues, engages visitors in face-to-face transactions within a secondary, informal cash economy—just like garage sales held outside a museum setting. As a traveling project, the Garage Sale accumulates elements from each succeeding event, ranging from components of the first project, such as the slide show and audio track, to “merchandise” from previous iterations and photographs of people holding up objects that form part of the installation.

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