For the past few months, following Los Angles Times writer Jori Finkel’s lead, we’ve noted the fact that none of the scores of shows about postwar art in Southern California, organized under the aegis of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” initiative, were scheduled to travel to New York.
Last week, artist Clifford Owens told The Observer in an interview that he planned to force a sex act on an audience member for his final performance at MoMA PS1. The performance, based on a score written by artist Kara Walker, called for French kissing an audience member and demanding sex. He had performed it several times during his 10-month residency at the museum, and planned to take the performance further and to break out of a comfort zone he had settled into. In response to the news of Mr. Owens’s plans, which we shared in search of comment, Ms. Walker responded via email that she wasn’t aware of his plans for his final performance and stated, “If he goes through with it he leaves no room for imagination or freedom of choice.” The next day, when she withdrew her involvement from Mr. Owens’s performance, demanding, via email, that he “cease and desist” from using her score, The Observer found itself an unwitting participant in the evolution of that last performance.
Spring Arts Preview
MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach has seen the German electronic music group Kraftwerk play live many times, but when asked to name his favorite performance he didn’t hesitate. “In the  Manchester International Festival, they played Tour de France in the velodrome,” he said, referring to the band’s most recent album, its eighth, released in 2003. The crowd watched the performance through 3D glasses as the national cycling team of Britain raced around the stadium. “They were so fast,” he recalled. “I think this was just the most delirious performance.”
This spring, Mr. Biesenbach, who also serves as chief curator-at-large at MoMA, will bring that delirium to the museum. For eight straight nights, April 10-17, its soaring atrium will play host to concerts by the famously reclusive group in what the museum is terming a “time-based retrospective,” titled Kraftwerk–Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. Each night the quartet will perform one of its albums, moving in chronological order from the laid-back jams of Autobahn (1974) to the taut, precise Tour de France, accompanied by elaborate sets and visuals designed by the group.
To say the event proved popular would be a gross understatement.
The artist Kara Walker had a surprise cameo today in Clifford Owens’s last performance in his exhibition “Anthology” at MoMA PS1. It was a resolution, it seemed, of what began unfolding last week when Mr. Owens made known to Gallerist in an interview his intention to force a sex act on an audience member during his last performance in accordance with a set of instructions Ms. Walker had given to him to enact. Yet, while Ms. Walker had supplied the instructions, or a “score” as Mr. Owens calls them (as did 27 other artists) she had no idea, we learned from her in an email, that he planned to take her instructions so literally for this performance, instructions which read, in part, “Force them against a wall and demand Sex.” As a result, she called off her involvement with the performance. Thus, when the door opened today and Ms. Walker appeared and walked slowly toward Mr. Owens, the performance, we knew, had taken a turn no one could have expected.
Since November, when his solo exhibition opened at MoMA PS1, the artist Clifford Owens has intimately kissed and groped strangers, fondled vegetables, and handled chickens in a suggestive way. At least two people have walked out of his performances, which are enactments of instructions—he calls them “scores”—written by other artists, like Kara Walker and Glenn Ligon. This Sunday, for his last performance at the museum, he will go above and beyond what he’s done so far, at least where Ms. Walker’s score is concerned.
Armory Week 2012
“Somebody just bought that video,” artist Clifford Owens told Gallerist this afternoon and laughed. “It was the weirdest thing. A guy and his wife.” We looked over at the video screen on which he is shown in close-up filling his mouth with food and making faces. “Why would you want to live with this? It’s kind of gross. Apparently,” he said as if to explain this surprising interest, “they’re board members at MoMA, so they’ve seen the show, and seen the work.”
We almost didn’t want to tell any of you this–in the spirit of competition–but in about one hour, tickets will go on sale for the MoMA Kraftwerk retrospective. They can only be purchased at the below link. We have received the following message from the show’s organizer and MoMA’s chief curator-at-large, Klaus Biesenbach.
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 8
Tour: ArtWalk Chelsea: David Zwirner, Gagosian and Gladstone
The American Federation for the Arts takes visitors on a tour of three exhibitions of three very different artists in Chelsea–Doug Wheeler, Damien Hirst and Shirin Neshat. –Michael H. Miller
Meet at David Zwirner, 519 West 19th Street, New York, 4–6 p.m., $25 for AFA members, $35 for non-members.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Opening: “Happenings” at the Pace Gallery
Over 300 photographs document performance pieces from the movement, featuring work by Jim Dine, Simone Forti, Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, Carolee Schneemann, and Robert Whitman. Sounds like a stellar tribute to a too-short movement, and you never know, someone may stage a be-in right at the opening. –Dan Duray
The Pace Gallery, 534 West 25th Street, New York, 6-8 p.m.
MoMA PS1 has something of an appetizer for the slavering hordes hungry for the news that the shuttered diner M. Wells will indeed open a cafeteria in the museum, which has been rumored since August. This Sunday, at the museum’s Winter Open House, the beloved and defunct diner will offer two “slamming sandwiches.”
The weekend before the opening of his midcareer retrospective at MoMA PS1, which opens to the public this Sunday, the painter Henry Taylor was walking through the museum’s first-floor galleries, inspecting the boxes that had just been shipped from his studio in Los Angeles. Some canvases were already leaning against the walls and others were sealed in bubble wrap. Some were still scattered around L.A. The month before, Mr. Taylor had gone to his daughter’s mother’s house there, where he had stored a number of pieces, only to discover they had been burned and destroyed (the circumstances are foggy). At PS1, he was walking through the show with Peter Eleey and Laura Hoptman, the exhibition’s two curators, rattling off stories about his work.