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Contributory Consumption

The Work of Art I Wish I Owned

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

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

In Passions

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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