The P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

By Monika Zhu

The P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center is one of the largest and oldest institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. It is located in the neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens in New York City (NYC).

The P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

The first time I went to PS1 was about 10 years ago. Back then Long Island city was an even more isolated area than it is now. I recall getting off the 7 train, looked left, looked right, and wondered to myself, “Gosh is it for real that a museum could be located in such a deserted area?” After a five minute walk, there was a grey cement wall indicating the entrance. Behind the wall, sure enough is another world! I see a large-scaled installation that looks like a mini Coney Island to me: boardwalk, mini sandbank next to a wading pool, and misty water spreads out once in a while from nowhere (not sure who did the installation). There was also music played by a DJ, beer and hot dogs were sold nearby. This was something I have never seen in any other museum!

I learned this was one of the Warm Ups, which is the music series organized by PS1. Over the years it has become one of NYC’s most anticipated summer events. The series is housed within the architectural installation which is created by the winner of the annual MoMAPS1 and MoMA organized Young Architects Program . Together, the music, architecture and exhibition program provide a very unique multi-sensory experience for everyone, whether you are a music fan, or an artist, or just want to hang out and socialise. It’s also a children friendly place, lots of parents bring their kids, and their favorite place seems to be the wading pool. Every year the Warm Up starts on the first Saturday of 4th July week and ends Labor Day weekend.

The P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

This year, the installation in the museum courtyard is called POLE DANCE. A giant open net covers the whole courtyard. It is held by groups of 25-foot-tall poles on 12×12-foot grids connected by bungee cords whose elasticity cause the poles to gently sway, creating a steady ripple throughout the courtyard space. Each grid contains a number of playful activators, such as hammocks, pulls, misters, and rain collecting plants.  There are also many multi-colored balls moving above the net, offering mutable shade and the appearance of a communal game. Dropping down at two points, the net surrounds a pool where you see a few children busy coming in and going out with their wet bathing suits … the party lasts until 9pm.

If you ever pass by NYC in the summer time, you really should try to go for a Warm Up at PS1.  It’s very New York!

More about MoMA P.S.1

Monika ZhuDongxia Monika Zhu was born near Shanghai in 1965. After graduating from the Zhejiang Art school  of  the National Art Academy in 1986, she worked for the Zhejiang Daily News as a reporter and as a fashion columnist for the Qiang Jiang Evening News. Her first book, “Yao Tiao”, was published in 1990. From 1990-1993 Monika attended the Toronto School of Art.

Since her move to New York in 1994, her illustrations  and designs have been published in the New York Times , Daily News and other commercial and editorial publications. She continues to write for the Qiang Jiang Evening News as special columnist (“Monika’s New York”). Recent articles and photographs appeared in Contemporary Art (Chinese) and the Chinese edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine,CASA Design magazine.

Throughout her carrier she has contributed and collaborated with other artist, such as the infamous and controversial work “dialog”(phone booth shooting), 1989. Monika D. Zhu has contributed to Ingo Günther’s Worldprocessor series of globes since 2001.