Bomb on the Scene: Roman Ondák’s Measuring the Universe at MoMA by Richard J. Goldstein & Hannah Kahng

Richard J. Goldstein and Hannah Kahng interview Roman Ondák about his installation Measuring the Universe at MOMA.

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After our interview with Roman Ondák, we talked a bit about the similarities between Measuring the Universe and Hans Haacke’s work, specifically Gallery-Goers’ Birthplace and Residence Profile, as both artists draw attention to empirical characteristics of the audience in their work. But while Haacke challenges the neutrality of the exhibition space and its audience, Ondák’s piece plays with the exhibition space’s assumed neutrality. He works within the boundaries of the museum’s apparatus, using things already present in MoMA—museum visitors, attendants, and walls—as the chief materials of his piece. As a result, components of the exhibition space typically ignored by the audience are set in action, and we see the potential power of these components: they not only shape our viewing experience but also can independently create.

In addition to commenting on the politics of viewing, Measuring the Universe takes on the function of an alternative timepiece. Roman Ondák’s work is dependent upon life and all its temporality. Describing this performance, Ondák explains that the ephemerality of the piece does not signal an anticipation of loss to live on in memory (nostalgia), but an anticipation of new beginnings by the piece’s seriality. With this point of view, he provides an open framework in a constant present…presencing, the root of ritual and performance.

Name, date, height (Stoppages Étalon: Duchamp) are marked by the museum guards as the hands of this “clock” which will terminate September 24, 2009. At this point the walls will be filled with a dense indexical network. This inky veil-to-be, a vicariously made drawing, is already rich in associations: a child’s growth chart, a criminal line-up, a measuring to find the mean point of view towards the maximal hanging of pictures… Associative and formal qualities become apparent as the marked information accrues, perhaps signaling the inevitability of the aesthetic.

Bomb On The Inside: On The Scene is a series of videotaped discussions with creative individuals curated and conducted by Hannah Kahng and Richard Goldstein. Edited by Mitch Moore.

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