There are only so many people in this world who get to tell Yoko Ono to “turn your goddamn racket down” or something to that effect. The administrators at the Museum of Modern Art are apparently among those people.
MOMA recently installed a Yoko Ono creation in the atrium of the museum entitled Voice Piece for Soprano. Basically, it’s Yoko Ono screaming things at you. Via Julia Halperin at the New York Observer:
The installation features a microphone, speakers, and the instructions to visitors: “Scream against the wind/ against the wall/ against the sky” on the far wall.
Word. Except Ono had some “oh, no” moments when she scared the shit out of otherwise unsuspecting art tourists. And locals. And wizened MOMA employees. Which is impressive:
The loud, sporadic screams that resulted startled visitors, while staff members strained to speak to museum-goers over the noise. “It was disturbing to the staff at the information desk,” said one employee who wished to remain anonymous because MOMA discouages its staff from commenting on artwork or internal affairs.
I’m sorry, but if I had Yoko Ono screeching unpronounceable alphanumeric characters behind me all day, I’d call OSHA and ask about my rights. Even before I talked to the Observer. Either way, that’s when they turned down Yoko’s yammering. Which resulted in the best kicker in recent Observer-MOMA coverage history:
Some employees feel the decision goes against Ms. Ono’s wishes. “Yoko Ono didn’t want us to lower it,” said an employee. “She comes by sometimes. They’ll probably louden it when she comes and then lower it again [after she leaves].” Certainly, the installation is popular. When asked if lots of people have been performing Voice Piece for Soprano, book specialist Sean Fuller, who works across from the atrium, responded wryly, “Unfortunately, yes.”
Which actually inspires a genius idea for a MOMA retrospective: Unfortunately, Yes could be a hand-curated collection of MOMA exhibitions that have gnawed away at the souls of despondent MOMA employees, who you’d get to sit in a chair and stare at as they rot away into artless cynicism as the $15/hour days pass on by. Abramovic Schmabramovic. That baby’s written in gold.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2010