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MoMA PS1 Rockaway!

Yesterday, I ventured for the first time to the southernmost stop of the A train (and then some), to Fort Tilden, where MoMA PS1 is curating a summer festival Rockaway! The festival finishes its run on Monday, and at least one major exhibit, Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet has already been moved to a new location.

The Rockaways have been slowly rebuilding after the extensive damage sustained in the community during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It is only this summer that Fort Tilden Beach officially opened again to the public. For anyone who is heading down to the beach this Labor Day weekend, check out the remaining Rockaway! exhibits.

I was completely unprepared for what I was going to find at the Rockaway Artists Alliance. Surrounded by sports fields and shuttered buildings, the area evokes a sleepy beach town community. There was no way of telling that within some of the buildings and throughout the surrounding dunes, Patti Smith and sculptor Adrian Villar Rojas are exhibiting their work.

Singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist Patti Smith experienced the storm’s devastation first hand as a local homeowner and has worked closely with MoMA PS1 to give something back to her neighborhood. Arguably the centerpiece of Rockaway! is Patti Smith’s Resilience of the Dreamer.  The installation spans three buildings and includes a Walt Whitman interactive reading room, a gallery of Smith’s photographs, and granite stones engraved with Whitman quotes strewn throughout the area.

The most memorable part of the exhibit is located within a derelict building with broken windows, which looms high above the gallery space. Signs warn of poison ivy as I approached, and it looked like nothing more than a heavily graffitied abandoned building. The pictures I took don’t do the piece justice. A run of the mill abandoned space is transformed by the presence of a goldleaf covered bed with a linen canopy descending all the way from the tall roof. Summer sunlight streams in and along with the swaying linen panels, gives the bed an appearance of floating above ground.

The bed is the centerpiece, but it is worth exploring the debris littering the rest of the room. It is unclear if the broken pipes, chairs and tables have been carelessly shoved aside, or artfully arranged. Amongst the debris, more white stones have been placed, intermingling with the man-made items, evoking to the vines streaming in through the broken windows.

If you do make it to Fort Tilden, ask the gallery attendants about the observation spot atop Battery Harris. Adrian Villar Rojas’ bird nest sculptures can be seen along the walk, and there’s a little ArtWalk note to be found on the observation deck. Tag your pictures of it on Instagram with @artwalknyc, and we’ll give you 50% off your next ArtWalk ticket purchase!

The MoMA PS1 Rockaway! exhibits will be shown until the 1st September.