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Contributory Consumption

The Work of Art I Wish I Owned

BY Kathy Halbreich
Laurenz Foundation curator and advisor to director, MoMA and executive director, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Installation view of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Work/Travail/Arbeid (2015), The Museum of Modern Art, March 29, 2017. © 2017 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes

While there are many, many hauntingly memorable objects, performances and ideas in the world that have shaped who I am or wish to be, I don’t have any particular urge at this time in my life to own much more. I am trying to simplify, consume less and take some personal responsibility for what’s happening to our planet.

I can already hear the laughter coming from my environmentally inclined son, who lives modestly but feels he has everything he needs and so also gives away a big chunk of his salary. He’s right: I know it’s ultimately a losing battle for me and I will give in to that Japanese tea bowl or Mali mud cloth or or or or…

But rather than acquiring more, I think we all should take a break and contribute to the museums and performing arts spaces in this city, where I have seen many of the things that meant the most to me since I started looking at art when I was 12 (and walked from my drawing class at the Art Students League to MoMA’s galleries and felt very wise for knowing that was a sexy thing to do). 

Students in Marshall Jones’s class at the Art Students League of New York (2016). Courtesy the Art Students League of New York

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