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Artists Experiment 2014 | MoMA

What happens when the museum becomes a studio and the visitor becomes a collaborator? Learn more about what artists have to say, take our online course, Modern and Contemporary Art, 1945-1989. Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

Video transcript

(intro music) - The Artists Experiment Initiative is not exactly an artist residency project. It's an experimental approach to socially-engaged experiences that may help audiences to relate to art in different and new ways. Artists that have participated in this project commit to a long-term relationship with us. It's a process of research, it's a process of reflection. They get to know the institution in a very intimate way. We are currently in our second year of our Artists Experiment Initiative, and we have invited a number of artists that we admire, that we really are inspired by their work, to come and look at our exhibitions, and look at our collection, and work with us to develop a series of new programs for next year. - [Paul] I would say, it's taken me maybe 15 years to become an artist that's really engaged with the public. I would say the first 15 years were a very selfish practice, and I don't mean that in a negative way, but artists are still trained to work alone, to work by themselves. I think the first step of working in an engaged practice was just simply to learn how to work not alone. An exhibition space is designed to receive objects, and in a way, it separates the transcation of the artists, and I think, "Oh, I'm making things for the exhibition space." I think, because my work used to deal a lot with history, I started to get a lot of requests to make work that were specific to a site, specific to a history. A lot of work that was in the public sphere. Immediately, when you leave the exhibition space, the situation gets much more complex and richer, and you inevitably have to think about the viewer. With Artists Experiment, I'm trying to push it further and be like, "Which public, of the public that goes to MoMA, "would I like to speak to?" I think that people forget that a museum is not just a place of consumption, where you come and look at art, or consume art, but it could also be a place of production. Once you make art, you look at it, at this object and you realize that there's another person just like you on the other side, making that thing. That is an incredible feeling of connection. - (mumbles), what we do is to make complicated data accessible. It may be hard for you to encounter these data on your own, but maybe through some of the displays that we've created, we provide a kind of human-scaled encounter with it, so that you can come to your own conclusions. - The data that tends to appeal to all three of us most is data that is inherently human in some way. Whether it is all the words Shakespeare ever wrote, or data that's about people and the way that they behave, and the ways that they move through the world. - I sort of envisioned this data space of MoMA as being this place that the public has never been able to see. How do we bring people into that experience is something that's been really interesting for us to think and talk about. - There's a beautiful story to be told about how MoMA thinks about its objects, and that thinking is maybe captured through the data that has been collected, right, the concerns and the considerations. What I think we're interested in, is looking at how that helps us come to better understand the original thing-ness of the objects that are in the collections. - [Allison] I make interactive installations that often invite the public to participate. The public is very important in the activation of the projects that I do. In many ways, I am collaborating with the public. My work is very research-based. One of the great things about working with museum education departments is that they are also interested in research, and in learning and in teaching. In Artists Experiment, the artists involved have access to all kinds of archives, and we can do research and inquire into all the things that we're curious about in terms of the museum's history, the workings of the museum. It's really a behind-the-scenes view of the museum itself. Ultimately, all of the projects that we're doing will culminate in public programs. So, it's both a challenge and just a very exciting opportunity to try and figure out how each of our practices will translate into this context. - We recognize that living artists are the ones who infuse life into this institution. We, together, undertake this process of collective learning to create new experiences. That try to re-imagine what the relationship to the museum can be. (outro music)