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Virginia Overton in Forum on Contemporary Photography at The Museum of Modern Art

The next Forum on Contemporary Photography at The Museum of Modern Art will take place on Monday, January 12, 2015 from 6 to 8 PM in the Founders Room at the Museum. Conceived as an experimental platform for free-form critical discussions, the Forums are designed to engage in debates about the perspectives and scope of contemporary photography with leading artists, curators, and theorists in the field.

This session will include Barbara Clausen, Curator and Professor for Performance Theory and History at the University of Québec; Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, MoMA; artists Sharon Hayes, Liz Magic Laser, and Jill Magid; and Melanie Kress, High Line Art Curatorial Fellow, who will lead a discussion about the relationship between photography and performance on the occasion of the exhibitions Art on Camera: Photographs by Shunk-Kender, 1960–1971 (on view May 17–October 4, 2015 at The Museum of Modern Art), and Pier 54 (on view November 6 – December 13, 2014 organized by High Line Art at 120 Eleventh Avenue). These exhibitions present, in the first instance, photographs of conceptual art, actions, instructions, and happenings from the 1960s and early ‘70s, with an emphasis on the historic Pier 18 project; and in the second, photographs of contemporary art and actions enacted in 2014 on Pier 54.

Pier 18 consisted of a series of ephemeral artworks organized by independent curator, activist, and publisher Willoughby Sharp and executed by 27 (all male) artists at a derelict West River pier in New York in February/March 1971. The photographs were exhibited at MoMA later that year as Projects: Pier 18 (June 18–August 2, 1971). Pier 54 was recently conceived as a tribute to and a reaction against Pier 18. Pier 54 likewise took place on a derelict pier, for which the High Line Art has invited 27 contemporary artists – all women – to realize projects that respond to the location and engage with the changing landscape of the West Side waterfront. Pier 54 exists as a series of documentations that took the format of photographs by Liz Ligon.

Some of the questions we will ask include:  In what ways does photography impact the field of performance? When performance is staged for the camera, how does this shift the exchange between artists and audiences? Where does the value of performativity lie? Is the reenactment of a landmark exhibition a critical exercise in historical revisionism? Can reenactments fuel aesthetic and political changes? What does it mean to extend the agency of the 1960s and ‘70s actions to engage issues of gender, race and culture today? This session will examine the ways in which expanded ideas about performance and the photography resonate into the 21st century. We look forward to seeing you all at this exciting event.

Space is limited, RSVP to Megan Feingold at or (212) 708-9707 by Dec. 22, 2014. 

All forums are livestreamed and recorded. We appreciate your understanding that by attending the Forum, you are agreeing to permit the Museum to livestream, videotape and record your voice and likeness and to save and share these recordings as the Museum sees fit.

Please enter the Museum using the administrative offices and film entrance at 11 West 53 Street (Lauder Building entrance, under the curved silver awning). Drinks and light snacks will be provided, and everyone is invited to linger and continue the conversation informally at the end of the evening.

The Forum on Contemporary Photography is made possible by MoMA's Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.


Pier 18 featuring: Vito Acconci, David Askevold, John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Bill Beckley, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Jan Dibbets, Terry Fox, Dan Graham, Douglas Huebler, Lee Jaffe, Richards Jarden, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, Allen Rupersberg, Italo Scanga, Richard Serra, Michael Snow, Keith Sonnier, Wolfgang Stoerchle, George Trakas, John Van Saun, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner. 

Pier 54 featuring: Leonor Antunes, Rosa Barba, Francisca Benitez, Carol Bove, N. Dash, Liz Glynn, Sharon Hayes, Iman Issa, Margaret Lee, Maria Loboda, Marie Lorenz, Shana Lutker, Liz Magic Laser, Jill Magid, MPA, Virginia Overton, Leah Raintree, Emily Roysdon, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Aki Sasamoto, Xaviera Simmons, Mika Tajima, Andra Ursuta, Sara VanDerBeek, Allyson Vieira, Marianne Vitale, and Anicka Yi


*Edited text from the Museum of Modern Art's Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator and Eva Respini, Curator