Patti Smith’s Resilience of the Dreamer Celebrates The Rockaways

SLIDESHOW: 15 photos from the ethereal installation.

In celebration of the resilience of the Rockaway Beach community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, MoMA PS1 has organizedRockaway!“, a series of installations nestled throughout the Fort Tilden beach area. The exhibition includes an array of works by Patti Smith, Janet Cardiff and Adrian Villar Rojas, the most notable of which is Smith’s Resilience of the Dreamer. A Rockaway Beach resident herself, Smith installed an ethereal gold and white bed inside an abandoned locomotive repair facility, still littered with debris and graffiti. The building is missing windows and part of its roof, and as the season wears on, the bed will wear down physically, while still remaining in place—a powerful testament to the endurance of the Rockaways.

The stark contrast between the purity and grace of the bed against the hardness of the building’s interior is a visual masterpiece. And while the bed is the focal point of the installation, there is muffled beauty in the surrounding details as well. The toppled chairs, abandoned possessions, and remnants of glass windows communicate a sense of melancholy that is thoughtful but not depressed. The bustled windows and patchy roof allow for unexpected streams of sunlight and breezes that gently blow the bed’s curtains. Smith has cultivated a delicate relationship between the forgotten and the new that will eventually end with a meeting in the middle, as the space is discovered and the bed slowly decays.

Also worth visiting is Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet, an adaptation of a haunting 16th-century motet created by recording each member of a choir individually and projecting that voice from a single speaker. On loan from the MoMA’s permanent collection, it is housed in a recently restored chapel, and consists of 40 speakers in a circle. The experience shifts depending on whether one is in the middle of the circle, or standing in front of a certain speaker. Contemplative and uplifting, it’s hard to envision seeing the piece in any other environment.

“Rockaway!” is on view until September 1, 2014. Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet will only be on view until August 17, 2014. The exhibition is open to the public Thursdays – Sundays, noon – 6 p.m.

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