A Post-BlogHer Visit to the Museum of Modern Art, Which Was Healing With a Side of Aggravation, Thanks to Yoko Ono

Last year when we went to BlogHer in Chicago, we barely made it out of the hotel let alone get to see much of the city, managing only to race through the Art Institute of Chicago for an hour before running back to grab our luggage and head to the airport. So, this year the Palinode and I decided to stay on in New York for a couple of extra days after the BlogHer '10 conference came to a close and actually tour a bit of the city.

The first thing we did was head straight to the Museum of Modern Art.

art
Picasso

I am fairly uncultured when it comes to art – a combination of my upbringing, my embarrassing failure in Art History in university, and not trying too hard at the whole high culture thing – so keep that in mind when I say that I have never cared much for Picasso. I've read about his art, and the intellectual end of it interests me, but I am overwhelmed with malaise when I look at it.

It's okay to think less of me for the next few seconds. Go.

One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand...

Okay. Now you can go back to liking me again. We all have our faults, and I figure if one of mine is feeling malaise when I look at Picasso or *gasp* Monet, than I think I should be alright.

I do, on the other hand, like Modigliani, or whoever painted this if it isn't a Modigliani:

art
Modigliani or some other guy painted this

And I like this piece, by somebody or other:

art
somebody famous probably made this

I sometimes feel as though I am being consumed in an art gallery rather than that I am the one consuming. The colour and figures crawl up into my head and roust about in my skull. I feel naked and possessed. I often weep.

There was a moment when we entered a small room with art from the early 1900s. I was standing before Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space from 1913. It felt monstrous and horrific, the humanity in the sculpture being so subsumed by its heartless yet animal march forward, and I had to find a window to the outside.

Even the closeness of a New York street felt better.

New York street
the calming, calming street

If I could have handled it I would have stared at that sculpture all day, but it wasn't just my response to the art that was making my trip through the MoMA difficult. Yoko Ono was screwing with everyone.

two floors of the MoMA
Yoko Ono's scream exhibit on the second floor

On the second floor, Yoko Ono's 1961 "instruction painting" Voice Piece for Soprano instructed gallery patrons to "Scream. 1. against the wind 2. against the wall 3. against the sky". The exhibit was accompanied by a microphone and a set of loud speakers, and there was a steady stream of screamers during my entire MoMA visit. I'd be be deep into a Max Ernst painting and AHHHHHHHHHHHH! would rip me out of it. A trip around the landscape of an Andrew Wyeth painting was cut short by a EEEEE-AAARRRRGGGGGGG!

I kind of wanted to find a pair of scissors and cut the power to that damned thing, and now I want to go back to the MoMA sometime when I am not going to be subjected to fifty different people screaming and some high-pitched little boy whose parents should have chucked his energetic ass out into the museum's garden, except not, because that's where the Palinode and I were headed.

We'd left the BlogHer conference only a couple of hours before, and I think social exhaustion was setting in. We bought a couple of espresso drinks in the garden, pulled a couple of iron chairs together, and watched the people go by.

MoMA garden
the MoMA sculpture garden

MoMA's sculpture garden was the perfect segue from the conference into the rest of our New York trip. Its pool of water and cool shade helped sweep out the last of my conference anxiety, or at least that's what I thought it was doing, but that could have been the heavy case of BlogHerBola that I didn't yet realize was working itself up into a body-leadening viral swamp, but that's a story for tomorrow.

Until then, FUCK YOKO.