A proving ground for young artists, the work you’re going to see here will be challenging, right of the moment, and sometimes downright wacky. “P.S. 1 is mythological,” says former Assistant Director Brett Littman. “Wherever I go, people know that there’s this crazy building in Long Island City where you see crazy art. They come here to put a notch on their culture belt.”
That “crazy building” was once a public school (hence the name), and its somewhat decrepit charm is part of the experience. Because it’s not a fancy white box of a space (like its sister institution, the Museum of Modern Art), P.S. 1 allows its artists to create full-blown, sometimes invasive, installations in the space (one summer several years ago, an artist blasted holes in the brick wall of a gallery). It uses all kinds of unusual spaces to house art, such as the basement boiler room.
The bulk of the work you’ll see here will be in changing exhibits, as the museum does not collect art. Instead, visitors are usually greeted with as many as 14 different shows in all parts of the building and, as I’ve said, some can be quite, well, bizarre. In its retrospective of New York City art several years back, one framed sculpture turned out to be the actual hand of the artist who was sitting on the other side of the wall, personifying her art. Now if that’s not worth $10, I don’t know what is.
- Pauline Frommer