Alanna Heiss and MoMA PS1’s anniversary show, FORTY | ARTIST STORIES

Bob: Sometimes I think that what we do is
very primitive. I have a stick with hair on the end of it. The same way it was, you know, 50,000 years ago. It hasn’t changed very much. Alanna: I think we’ve got to do that. I think it’s gonna be beautiful there. Man: It’s gonna go essentially to the ceiling. Woman: Okay. Is that what it’s supposed to do? Man: Yeah, I mean, it’s… Alanna: Yeah, that’s what it’s supposed to
do. I’m just having my back thoughts about
remembering 40 years ago. So it took up more of the wall 40 years ago. I think a lot of the energy that comes out
of New York art has to do with the artist confronting that aspect of abandonment. They take that energy right from the street,
or right from the building. Richard: It was a space that was almost an
outdoor space at that point. The windows were broken. It was full of water. It was very hard to think of as a building. The best show to have been working on in the
last few years was the “Rooms Show,” the first PS1 show. Alanna: We can’t move it any farther to the
right. The only thing… Man: At the very least, you can move it to
here. Alanna: Right, at the very least. Man: But then… Alanna: And then I’m just thinking about that. Richard : In 1976, what Alanna decided to
do was to invite a bunch of artists, close to a 100, a lot of artists. The idea was a very interesting one, a very
simple one, choose your space, walk through this wreck of a building, and tell me where
you wanna work? This just big place where we could make art. Judith: You know, there was no social media
and no word of mouth, the following, I mean, what it became, the world-famous curators,
who knew her, and knew to be here for certain things because they just knew
how exciting her vision was. Alanna: It looks good. Bob: To have an opportunity to literally be
given carte blanche to make a piece. Actually, I went through a lot, I just said,
“You know, I don’t want just one room, I want two rooms, and I’m going to put a corridor
in the wall between the rooms,” and she said, “Fine.” Alanna: How close are you staying to the
original painting you did in the ’76 show? Bob: Oh, it’s the lean and… Alanna: The lean is the same. Bob: …and the backlit part. All of that’s the same.. Alanna: Alright. Bob: The color and the paint are different. Alanna: Okay, so that…the color and the
paint are what you’re giving yourselves 40 years of extra knowledge. Bob: Yeah, I mean, this thing didn’t even
exist then. Richard: In the first PS1 show, she took a
classroom, and on that blackboard the text was very sexual. Now, Marcia is 80 years old, and
so she’s writing about her feelings about those things now, as opposed to then. Richard: One of the interesting things about
the original show, most of us were close friends, and most of us helped each other with our
work because nobody could afford to hire assistants. When we brought the steel from my piece into
PS1 originally, Bob was one of the guys who helped me and, you know, I probably helped
him build the wall here. Judith: I was one of the youngsters. They were all 10 years older than me. Really, in my association with the artists
that were in “Rooms,” I began to understand that how you think about things is part of
what you’re doing. That’s what I think the sculptors made me
understand. Richard: In a certain sense, every piece in
that show was an installation. Now everything gets painted white, the floor
is clean, so your eye moves. But in the original show, your eye moved more
slowly because there was water, and there were reflections, and the walls were broken. It was about the spaces, about the ruins,
because there was no avoiding it. And you walked from one person’s wreck into
another person’s wreck into another person’s wreck. Bob: There’s this, sort of, brewing intensity
here. You know, you’ve got, well, I don’t know,
70 or 80 artists here, and everybody’s trying to come in to do something new. Klaus: Alanna, a big toast. We’re here because 40 years ago, you started
this. To Alanna. [Applause] Alanna: You dream what kind of situations you can provide that are exciting to everyone,
exciting to an audience, exciting to people who make art, exciting to people who look
at art. I can’t really think of anything I’d rather
do than what I do. Richard: It was an important moment
of change in the way that we all were able to think about art.

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