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EXPO 1: New York imagines a contemporary art museum dedicated to ecological concerns
"Brodno People", 2010, by Pawel Althamer with Pawel Buchholz, Marcin Leszczynski, Michal Mioduszwski, Slawomir Mocarski, Julia Matea Petelska and Jedrzeg Rogozinski on display on May 10, 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) PS1 in the Queens borough of New York. It is part of the "EXPO 1: New York" exhibition, what the MoMA says is "an exploration of ecological challenges in the context of the economic and sociopolitical instability of the early 21st century", open from May 12 to September 2. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA.

NEW YORK, NY.- EXPO 1: New York, an exploration of ecological challenges in the context of the economic and socio-political instability of the early 21st century opens at MoMA PS1, The Museum of Modern Art, and Rockaway Beach. Acting in the guise of a festival-as-institution, EXPO 1: New York imagines a contemporary art museum dedicated to ecological concerns, presenting a simultaneity of modules, interventions, solo projects, and group exhibitions including a school, a colony, a cinema, a geodesic dome, Rain Room, and more. EXPO 1: New York is made possible by a partnership with Volkswagen Group of America. Rain Room is on view at MoMA, courtesy of RH, Restoration Hardware.

The concept of EXPO 1: New York was developed by MoMA PS1 Director and MoMA Chief Curator-at-Large Klaus Biesenbach with Hans Ulrich Obrist and an advisory group including Peter Eleey, Paola Antonelli, Pedro Gadanho, Laura Hoptman, Roxana Marcoci, and Jenny Schlenzka. EXPO 1: New York is organized by Klaus Biesenbach with Christopher Y. Lew, and Lizzie Gorfaine, with specific curators for several of the modules and exhibitions.

Klaus Biesenbach explains, “EXPO 1 is informed by many of the participatory and performative practices of contemporary art in recent years, but translates and focuses them into social practice.” Biesenbach continues, “Architecture in its construction and use is performative and experiential, as in the Colony and the Rain Room. The VW Dome 2 in the Rockaways is also a community center, not only a place to present, project, and host art events. Teaching on a daily basis, as in the EXPO School run by Triple Canopy, becomes again an urgent artistic practice, as in the days when Joseph Beuys revolutionized the art school system in Europe. Providing the viewers with a daily moving pictures program, a special dish at M. Wells, and the opportunity to cultivate plants on the rooftop broadens the experience of the museum as a place to take in, be part of, and invest. 'Dark Optimism' means there is a future, if you want it to be there."

To honor MoMA PS1's own pioneering history in social practice and politically and ecologically engaged exhibitions, Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist consulted PS1's founder Alanna Heiss and asked her to be an honorary curatorial voice in EXPO 1: New York. In addition to her guidance in the overall project, she is curating and re-staging her ground-breaking project, Pool from 1998 with the artist Meg Webster.

Rockaway Beach
The devastation of Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) in the neighborhoods occupying the Rockaway Peninsula has made apparent the fragility of the area’s infrastructure. The weeks without electricity and a public transportation system that is still under repair have only compounded the loss of life and property. The social fabric of whole communities has been rendered tenuous, a situation further exacerbated by the damages to public spaces.

Call for Ideas
EXPO 1: New York began with an open call for ideas to aid the peninsula’s coastal communities, which are threatened by climate change, as well as the construction of a temporary cultural and relief center in the Rockaways called the VW Dome 2.

In an effort to foster creative debate on urban recovery after Hurricane Sandy, MoMA PS1 and MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design solicited ideas for more sustainable waterfront planning and construction in the format of a short video. Artists, architects, designers, and others were invited to present ideas for alternative housing models, creation of social spaces, urban interventions, new uses of public space, the rebuilding of the boardwalk, protection of the shoreline, and actions to engage local communities.

A jury including Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA; Klaus Biesenbach, Peter Eleey; Pedro Gadanho; art and architecture critic Niklas Maak, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and influential architects, urban planners, and designers made a selection of exemplary ideas from the open call and those twenty-five selected proposals are now on view in MoMA PS1’s temporary VW Dome 2 in the Rockaways through June 30.

VW Dome 2
As part of EXPO 1: New York, MoMA PS1, in partnership with Volkswagen of America, provided a temporary geodesic dome to serve as a center for culture, education, and community in the Rockaways. As a flexible space, the VW Dome 2 provides a venue for lectures and conversations, rotating art exhibitions, film and video screenings, performances, and community events. Programming is organized in partnership with local organizations in the Rockaways and Queens County including Queens Museum, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Rockaway Artists Alliance, Rockaway Beach Civic Association, Rockaway Beach Surf Club, Rockaway Conservancy, Rockaway Rescue Alliance, the Wave (the local newspaper), and others.

The VW Dome 2 is located at the southern end of the parking lot located between Beach 94th and Beach 95th Streets, close to the former boardwalk, through June 30, 2013.

EXPO 1: New York occupies the entire building of MoMA PS1, with large-scale exhibitions and solo projects exploring the theme of dark optimism, an exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams curated by Roxana Marcoci, a group exhibition called ProBio curated by Josh Kline, a school, a cinema, a colony, and more.

Dark Optimism
The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by ecological destruction, economic turmoil, and the promise of political change. In response, the editors of the magazine Triple Canopy call for "dark optimism," an attitude that encompasses both the seeming end of the world and its beginning, positioned on the brink of apocalypse but also at the onset of unprecedented technological transformation. Climate change has generated storms, droughts, and floods that occur with greater frequency and severity. Economic volatility around the world has precipitated political action, giving rise to manifestations and uprisings in regions such as Northern Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe, and New York’s Wall Street. Meanwhile technological innovations and novel architectural initiatives offer the tantalizing promise of a brighter future. Recent advancements have facilitated rapid communication—which at times has helped organize political protests—as well as access to information with such ease and volume that it threatens to become overwhelming in scale.

For the thematic presentations at MoMA PS1, EXPO 1: New York takes the urgent, yet pragmatic sensibility of “dark optimism” as its position. Elaborating on the exhibitions’ curatorial perspective, Biesenbach says, “It is one that recognizes the failures of Modernism’s utopic ideals, but maintains hope that human innovation will bring forth the wish for a better tomorrow.” Exhibitions and projects under the umbrella position of “Dark Optimism” features approximately 35 artists, including the historical figure Joseph Beuys and contemporary artists such as Anna Betbeze, Agnes Denes, Olafur Eliasson, Pierre Huyghe, Jacob Kassay, Zoe Leonard, Klara Liden, Mark Manders, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Meg Webster, and is on view at MoMA PS1 from May 12 through September 2, 2013.

The work of Joseph Beuys spans the concerns of EXPO 1: New York and influenced subsequent generations of artists, including many of those in this exhibition. Embodying the roles of artist, educator, and activist, Beuys modeled how to live, not only in the latter half of the 20th century, but also in the millennium that follows. In 1972, following the May 1st demonstrations in then-West Berlin’s Karl-Marx-Platz, Beuys, with the help of two students, swept the streets and collected debris from the protests. Titled Sweeping Up and documented on film by K. P. Brehmer, Beuys created a performance of labor itself, infusing idealism with pragmatic action; Sweeping Up will be a cornerstone of Dark Optimism.

Featured Artists in solo and group presentations include: Paweł Althamer, Dan Attoe, Anna Betbeze, Joseph Beuys, DAS INSTITUT (Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder) and UNITED BROTHERS (Ei and Tomoo Arakawa), Peter Buggenhout, Chris Burden, Mircea Cantor, Agnes Denes, Mark Dion, Latifa Echakhch, Olafur Eliasson, Mitch Epstein, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Pierre Huyghe, Jacob Kassay, Taiyo Kimura, Zoe Leonard, Klara Lidén, Mark Manders, Gordon Matta-Clark, Steve McQueen, John Miller, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Charles Ray, Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Jolley, Pipilotti Rist, Ugo Rondinone, Pamela Rosenkranz, Katharina Sieverding, Mikhael Subotzky, Andra Ursuta, Adrián Villar Rojas, Meg Webster, and Liu Wei.

Olafur Eliasson: Your waste of time
Olafur Eliasson’s immersive installation Your waste of time presents massive pieces of ice that broke off from Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. The oldest ice in the glacier is estimated to have originated some 800 years ago, around AD 1200. Presented as sculptures that visitors can walk around and contemplate, their continued presence is made possible by refrigerating the gallery space to maintain a temperature below freezing. The physical experience of centuries-old ice, from the glaciers of Eliasson’s native Iceland makes tangible a history that extends beyond the human life span—time that is measured in thousands of years rather than mere decades.

Olafur Eliasson: Your waste of time at MoMA PS1 is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator-at-Large, MoMA.

Meg Webster: Pool
Meg Webster’s Pool is a site-specific installation comprised of natural and manmade elements that brings visitors into proximity with live plants and animals, while mirroring the earth’s natural systems: generation, transformation, and return. Originally commissioned in 1998 for the MoMA PS1 duplex gallery by Alanna Heiss, the founder of the museum, Pool addresses the powerful intersection between nature and space. By harnessing technology, Webster is able to bring the outdoors inside, evoking an experience with nature while also highlighting the architectural and technological structures that support it. She makes no effort to hide the mechanics that make the installation possible; the electric water pumps, copper and plastic pipes, and rubber pool lining are all in direct view. As Webster states, “Here, what you see is what you see.”

Installed for the first time in fifteen years as part of EXPO 1: New York, Pool takes on added significance in an era defined by technological advancement, climate change, and a renewed sense of environmental accountability. Webster has provided an elegant example of how mechanical and natural systems can come together in the service of environmental sustainability. Meg Webster: Pool is organized by Alanna Heiss, Founder of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) and Director of and the Clocktower Gallery.

Adrián Villar Rojas: La inocencia de los animales
A member of the youngest generation of internationally recognized artists, Argentinian Adrián Villar Rojas is known for his sculptural installations, drawings, and environments that suggest a world inspired by both archeology and science fiction. For EXPO 1: New York, Villar Rojas is creating La inocencia de los animales (2013), a site-specific, immersive installation that resembles both an amphitheater of antiquity and a post-apocalyptic cavern. Consisting of cracked, crumbling clay and concrete, the work points forwards and backwards—seemingly to the very beginnings of civilization and its aftermath. Designed as an environment to house the EXPO School, Villar Rojas’s installation serves a place to impart and absorb knowledge, insinuating an educational foundation amid the physical debris.

Ansel Adams: The Politics of Contemplation
EXPO 1: New York features a solo exhibition of 50 photographs by Ansel Adams drawn from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art. Ansel Adams: The Politics of Contemplation brings renewed attention to one of the most socially relevant artist-activists of the American West. As a youth Adams first photographed Yosemite Valley with a Kodak Brownie box camera.

Over decades, he returned to the same locations to capture the cosmic consciousness of grand mountains, forests, rivers, geysers, and moonrises. Adams’ choice for the lens setting f/64 (the smallest aperture of the lens) invests his pictures with a critical depth of field that links high definition details of natural forms with the expanse of the distant background. A dedicated environmentalist and wilderness preservationist, Adams depicted a land untouched by humans, and saw the forces of environmental advocacy as ascendant. Adams’ visionary exploration of our planet is acutely contemporary in focus, particularly in light of recent natural disasters.

Adams had a long relationship with The Museum of Modern Art. Together with Trustee David H. McAlpin and Beaumont Newhall, the Museum’s first curator of photography, he was instrumental in founding MoMA’s Department of Photography in 1940, the first of its kind. Ansel Adams: The Politics of Contemplation is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography, MoMA; and Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1, and Chief Curator-at-Large, MoMA; with Lucy Gallun, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography, MoMA.

Artist and curator Josh Kline has organized a group exhibition, ProBio that explores the theme of dark optimism within the context of the human body and technology. Some scientists and thinkers have speculated that, with the advancement of applied biological science, humankind may no longer be subject to Darwinian natural selection. In its place would be a world of open-source artificial gene flows between people and between other forms of natural and unnatural life. A world driven by self-actualization, in which genes become open source and biology becomes software, and the distinctions between living organisms, information, objects, and products becomes irrevocably confused. ProBio presents a group of 11 emerging artists, mostly based in New York, whose work explores the continuing radical impact that technology has upon the human body and the human condition. The artists have all created new works in various media, including sculpture, video, and performance for the exhibition.

Featured Artists: Alisa Baremboym, Antoine Catala, Dina Chang, Ian Cheng, DIS Magazine, Josh Kline, Ajay Kurian, Tabor Robak, Carissa Rodriguez, Georgia Sagri, and Shanzhai Biennial.

MoMA PS1 has invited Triple Canopy, a magazine and editorial collective, to organize a daily program of lectures, debates, and discussions during EXPO 1: New York. For the EXPO school program, which is titled Speculations (“The future is “), Triple Canopy has commissioned artists, writers, technologists, economists, academics, activists, and ecologists to place speculative bets on the future—to describe a future they’d like to see, in words and images. The speculations may be fantastical or pragmatic, meant to provoke or be materialized; they may take up new forms of economic exchange or planetary colonization, the ever-proximate singularity or the reality of rising tides. They must be optimistic, however darkly.

Triple Canopy worked with Mexico City-based artist José León Cerillo to develop a structure to house this provisional institution. Cerillo’s work renovates the archetypal forms of the classroom and employs steel bars to outline the activities of the teachers’ lounge; the resulting geometric forms, like the speculations being made, exceed the boundaries of the galleries, puncturing the museum’s wall.

The EXPO school will be in operation daily from May 12 through July 28. Participants include Laurie Anderson, Arjun Appadurai, Jacob Appelbaum, Ray Brassier, Ted Chiang, Jace Clayton, John Crowley, Silvia Federici, Peter Frase, Rivka Galchen, David Graeber, Group Theory, N. Katherine Hayles, Myung Mi Kim, Josh Kline, Benjamin Kunkel, Rachel Kushner, John Miller, Evgeny Morozov, Trevor Paglen, Laura Poitras, Fatima Al Qadiri, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Rush, Saskia Sassen, and Kathi Weeks.

A program of moving images from a range of disciplines and genres will be presented in the EXPO Cinema, organized by Kevin McGarry. The Cinema showcases the myriad ways video is experienced today. While audiences continue to congregate in movie houses, they increasingly consume video in private on handheld devices and personal computers. Reflecting this, the Cinema consists of an evolving program of material from disparate origins— video art as well as games, user-generated online content, pop culture, and advertising.

The devastating effects of natural disasters and economic volatility have spurred architects to reconsider how to build in a tumultuous world. For EXPO 1: New York, Pedro Gadanho asked the Argentinian architecture firm a77 to create a colony in MoMA PS1’s outdoor courtyard in which artists, thinkers, architects, and other cultural agents are invited to live together. The construction of the Colony will occur during the duration of EXPO 1: New York. a77, led by Gustavo Diéguez and Lucas Gilardi, is known for working with recycled and salvaged materials to create temporary and permanent housing. Powerful storms have left behind large swaths of wreckage destined for landfills; the foreclosure crisis has created a glut of abandoned homes. The architects suggest ways to reimagine such bleak conditions to find new forms of sustainable dwellings as alternatives to the traditional house. By building, living, designing, and thinking together, the inhabitants of the colony propose a model for future living and communal utopia.

The Colony is organized by Pedro Gadanho, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA, in consultation with German writer and architecture theoretician, Niklas Maak.

The Museum of Modern Art
The final component of EXPO 1: New York is a large-scale environment by Random International entitled Rain Room, presented at The Museum of Modern Art from May 12 through July 28.

Rain Room is a field of falling water that pauses wherever a human body is detected—offering visitors the experience of controlling the rain. Known for their distinctive approach to digital-based contemporary practice, Random International’s experimental projects come alive through audience interaction and Rain Room is their largest and most ambitious to-date. The work invites visitors to explore the roles that science, technology, and human ingenuity can play in stabilizing our environment. Using digital technology, Rain Room is a carefully choreographed downpour—a monumental work that encourages people to become performers on an unexpected stage, while creating an intimate atmosphere of contemplation.

The presentation of Rain Room at The Museum of Modern Art is organized by Klaus Biesenbach with Alice Teng. Rain Room is on view, courtesy of RH, Restoration Hardware.

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