Very Good Art.

MoMA PS1 has a great director who does very good things. Not just good art things, but good-good things, too.


Photo: Stefano Giovannini. via nypost.com

Klaus Biesenbach, who is director of MoMA PS1 and chief curator at large of MoMA, is a member of The Rockaways local community. He has a home there. So when Hurricane Sandy hit the Long Island peninsula in 2012, Biesenbach sprung into action and did what he could to help and support his storm-ravaged community.

His efforts to help rehabilitate The Rockaways weren’t limited only to the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, though. Biesenbach led efforts to build a temporary, flexible space — a geodesic dome called VW Dome 2 — that could be a hub for relief coordination when it needed to be, and became a cultural and community centre when that breed of relief was needed, as well.


Photo: Stefano Giovannini. via nypost.com

In 2014, Biesenbach took to curating shows that lived in and brought life back to local buildings which had been affected by the hurricane. It served as a beautiful project that motivated the community, and drew visitors back to the area. The shows, which included works by Patti Smith, Janet Cardiff, and Adrián Villar Rojas, were such a hit that plans were made for the event to become a biennial one.

And that brings us to 2016’s Rockaway! event: a dazzling large-scale installation by artist Katharina Grosse, the paint on which is only just dry, and is quite the sight to see.


Photo: Stefano Giovannini. via nypost.com

The site of the project is at Fort Tilden. The building is a shell which remains from WW1, and is filled with sand carried in on the wind from the beach just outside the door-less front door and windows. The brilliant fuchsia waves of Grosse’s paint fan out from the building and into the land surrounding it, lapping at the beach.

The building is brightly emblazoned inside and out, breathing a stunning but fantastic kind of zest into the landscape and its surrounds. But taking the project on face value could lead you to mistake it for a breezy, easy happening — one of those contemporary art things that make those who are so inclined exclaim: “I could’ve done that!” But they’d be wrong, because it was no easy feat.

Before any painting took place, an elaborate system of huge tarps needed to be set up to keep the paint from blowing off into the surrounding landscape. Once that was taken care of, but before all of those licks of delightful colour could be anything more than a brilliant idea, Grosse had to prepare and cleanse the building of the many and varied tags and graffiti which dotted it. This was done by undercoating the whole thing with white paint.


Photo: Stefano Giovannini. via nypost.com

The colour came next, and was applied in many layers — up to eight or nine — and made to sweep over the hollow shell. It mirrors the ocean nearby, pink and magenta waves washing over the ramshackle roof and down the walls.

This was done with a little bit of help from a cherry picker, allowing Grosse to get up high whilst retaining careful control of her nozzle-head — which remained a strict 1.5 feet from any and all of the buildings surfaces at all times.

As you might expect from a beachfront canvas, wind was an issue; although there was only one day which ended up being too blustery for the artist and her hardworking team to continue.


Photo: Stefano Giovannini. via nypost.com

Fort Tilden was very hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Many of the sand dunes in the area were completely destroyed, plain blown away, during the storm, and Groose and Biesenbach’s Rockaway! is just another step forward in the recovery efforts ongoing in the area.

A stunning sight that makes for a very fitting farewell, Grosse’s super-sized canvas will show until November — which is when the project and building it lives on will be razed to make way for new efforts in the recovery and rejuvenation of The Rockaways.

Rockaway! is located at the Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden. The show runs through to November 30, 2016. You can find more information at momaps1.org/exhibitions.

Credits
Photo: MoMA via twitter.
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