Don’t look at pictures on the internet of Meeting James Turrell at MoMA. Just go and experience the thing for yourself.
That’s what I did. In fact, admittedly, I didn’t even know it was there. I went to PS1 last Sunday because I said to my roommate, “What should I do today? I want to do something that’s outside and free.”
She said, “Go to MoMA PS1. It’s both of those things, at least on Sundays.”
First off, MoMA PS1, unsurprisingly, given the organization’s devotion to architecture and design, is architecturally fascinating. They have all these brutalist concrete walls in the front and the building is a renovated Romanesque school. It still has the hardwood floors that you’d remember from 5th grade and those high windows in the entrances of rooms. In the basement you can explore old cavernous heating rooms with exposed pipes that they painted gold. The atmosphere in general is warm and inviting, yet the art is challenging.
Most of MoMA PS1 is currently the Mark Leckey show. But this article is about Meeting James Turrell, so I’ll just leave it at that.
After seeing a bunch of his stuff—it is funny and provocative; don’t want you to think I didn’t like it—I wandered upstairs and saw a door that was shut. There was a MoMA employee there like how they usually stand outside exhibitions, but I had never seen a door closed to an exhibit before. At this moment, I did have a lot of fear, thinking that this had to be exclusive, maybe only for inviteés or staff, but the staff member didn’t say anything. I looked at her and thought of Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy framework—if you believe you can do it, you can do it—and I reached for the door handle. I figured, if I’m not allowed to do this, they’ll say something.
A couple seconds later, as I entered the room, I was transported. Everything that had happened before a couple seconds ago was the past, and was in no way connected to the present. I sat (I don’t think that’s giving away anything) and observed. I saw people—mostly very stylish and from various races and ethnicities, because you’re in Queens and at MoMA PS1—full of joy and gratitude. It was like we could just look around at each other and say, “We all made it here. We did it.” Maybe I’m crazy, but there was a general feeling in the space that we were all so lucky to witness this. It was so simple, so natural. It was one of those things that just had to exist.
I stayed for about 15 minutes and that was the most serene 15 minutes I’ve experienced in a long time. After awhile I left because I felt like I had to, because I needed to give up my space for someone else to experience this.
And that’s what it was like Meeting James Turrell at Moma PS1.
By: David Plick