One Work, Many Voices

MoMA’s curators, selected staff, and specialist invitees each pick individual works in MoMA’s collection and discuss the particularities of the chosen piece and its relationship to other works housed within the Museum. Several of the works included here entered MoMA’s holdings as a result of Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP), a research initiative begun at the Museum in 2009, which has focused on tracing artistic legacies in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America. However, MoMA’s inclusion of works from these regions predates this endeavor, which is something also evinced here. C-MAP’s efforts both to promote a deeper understanding of works already in MoMA’s collection and to instigate a broader perspective on how other geographical histories might relate to MoMA’s context, reflect a history of modern and contemporary art premised on international travel, networks, and connections. 

Encompassing historical as well as contemporary objects in a diversity of mediums, this Theme in effect serves to mimic the structure of a museum’s collection: Artworks created in disparate locales and in different moments in time find themselves in chance adjacency and juxtaposition, prompting reflection on similarities and differences, and deeper investigations of the contexts within which each work of art was produced. This body of objects does not tell one particular story; instead it enables multiple stories to be told, including the inclusion of formerly underrepresented voices, and offers a site for contemplating the difficulties and possibilities of writing a globally-comprehensive history of art.

Breathing

Song Dong’s 1996 Breathing—a work that zeroes in on the act of breathing in two charged public spaces in Beijing—speaks to art as intertwined with the practice of living, resistance as well as futility.

What Color Is Racism?

Amanda Williams painted eight condemned houses in and around Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, selecting colors from the consumer products and companies marketed to the Black communities of the city’s South Side. The project highlights the ways we construct meaning from color, how these associations are inextricably linked to race and class, and how they connect to the long-standing history of public disinvestment in Black neighborhoods.