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an experiment in creative ecologies, featuring Rashid Johnson’s “Stage”



PS1 COURTYARD: an experiment in creative ecologies reimagines the uses of and access to PS1’s outdoor Courtyard, which is the interstitial space between the institution, its neighborhood, and the community. Featuring a series of new initiatives, including a participatory installation by artist Rashid Johnson, a series of Thought Collectives that will test out creative and forward-thinking propositions for the use of public space, and a generative commissioning program to reanimate the Courtyard’s concrete walls, the program will recast one of the few plots of open land in Long Island City—the fastest growing residential neighborhood in the US and a site of rapid gentrification—as a place for experimentation and engagement with urban ecologies.

The centerpiece of the initiative is Rashid Johnson’s Stage, a participatory installation and sound work that draws on the history of the microphone as a tool for protest and public oratory, while recalling the metonymic references to microphones in hip-hop lyrics from the 1980s to the present. The work features a yellow powder-coated stage, with Johnson’s signature markings, on which stands of varying heights hold five SM58 microphones, the legendary model that has become an music industry standard since its introduction to the market in the mid 1960s. Echoing unofficial sites of public intellectual and cultural life, such as Speaker’s Corners in London’s Hyde Park and Harlem’s 135th Street and Lenox Avenue, the public is invited to step up onto the stage and speak their mind from Johnson’s Stage. Participants’ statements will be recorded and rebroadcast into speakers installed throughout the courtyard. Rashid Johnson: Stage also functions as a flexible site for programs and performances, featuring performers, poets, activists, and musicians.

Niki de Saint Phalle’s La femme et L’oiseau fontaine (1967) inaugurates the 2021 season in the PS1 Courtyard, part of a survey of the Saint Phalle’s work, Structures for Life, on view through September 6. Taking the form of a woman lightly balanced atop a bird, the fountain is an early example of Saint Phalle’s iconic Nana sculptures—joyful monuments to female power—as well as her growing interest in making art for a world beyond the confines of the gallery setting.

Punctuating the walls surrounding Saint Phalle’s fountain, The Stories of the Past Rejoice through Children’s Skies (2021) is a new site-specific installation by Raul de Nieves resembling stained glass windows, which offers a chapel-like space of reflection. Influenced by Mexican craft traditions, de Nieves was also impacted by seeing Saint Phalle’s public sculptures as a child growing up in San Diego, and his works echo her appeal to fantasy, mysticism, and material exuberance to explore the complexities of life.

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PS1 COURTYARD: an experiment in creative ecologies is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

Generous funding is provided by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation, Jeffrey and Michèle Klein, and MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

Support for Rashid Johnson: Stage is provided by the Junior Associates of the Museum of Modern Art. 

Major support is provided by Allianz, MoMA’s partner for design and innovation.



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View of MoMA PS1 Courtyard. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Marissa Alper

Installation view of Stage by Rashid Johnson, on view at MoMA PS1, New York. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Matthew Septimus

Activation of Rashid Johnson, Stage (2020) by BombaYo at MoMA PS1 on October 23, 2020. Image courtesy of MoMA PS1. Photo by Eva Cruz.

Activation of Rashid Johnson, Stage (2020) by Qween Andy Jean at MoMA PS1 on November 17, 2020. Image courtesy of MoMA PS1. Photo by Marissa Alper.

Activation of Rashid Johnson, Stage (2020) by Pink Siifu at MoMA PS1 on September 15, 2020. Image courtesy of MoMA PS1. Photo by Marissa Alper.

View of MoMA PS1 Courtyard. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Marissa Alper

View of MoMA PS1 Courtyard. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Marissa Alper