The New Museum NYC Presents Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other

The New Museum wall adorned with colorful ribbons with messages that viewers can pull off and wear

We've discussed our frustration with the New Museum in Manhattan before: how we love the design of the building (and its signage), both inside and out; and its location at the eastern end of Prince Street, near so much great shopping and eating and gallery-going; and its Sky Room terrace, with those sweeping views of Soho and the Lower East Side… but also how, so far in the museum's relatively brief history (three years this December), the ever-changing exhibitions here have, for the most part and for various reasons, left us feeling unsatisfied, especially for that $12 admission fee. Was the solution, which we put into play, to see the current exhibition, Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other? Visit the New Museum only on Thursday nights, from 7:00 until 9:00, when admission is free, the energy high, and the place feels like a party. 

Buckets hang from the celing and are scattered on the floor with ladder in the center at the New Museum in New York City

That's not to say that we didn't enjoy much of Rivane Neuenschwander's clever, playful, occasionally participatory art itself. In the New Museum in Soho lobby gallery, for example, we liked "I Wish Your Wish", for which Neuenschwander inserted more than 10,000 brightly colored ribbons into the walls, each stamped with one of 60 different wishes, from the silly ("I wish I had my own reality show") to the serious ("I wish it was benign") to the universal ("I wish color, gender and religion didn't matter"). The idea here is that viewers can choose their wish by pulling out a ribbon, tying it to their wrist and, when the "bracelet" finally wears away and falls off, the wish will come true. All the wishes were suggested by previous participants; to keep the cycle going, Neuenschwander asks that you replace the ribbon with a new wish, written on a scrap of paper and plugged into the hole. 

Police sketch artist draws with New Museum gallery viewers surrounding him

We also liked Neuenschwander's "Rain Rains" on the fourth floor, with its hanging, holey buckets dripping water into their counterparts on the floor, the museum staff charged with climbing a ladder and dumping the bottom back into the top when full. For "First Love", on the third floor of the New Museum in NYC, Neuenschwander has installed a police sketch artist, who will draw a portrait of your first love from your (hazily remembered?) description. This is fascinating, if a bit slow, to watch. And we chuckled over the pedestals here topped with dozens of "Involuntary Sculptures" that the artist has collected from bars all over the world–beer-label origami, ripped-up napkins, swizzle-stick structures, etc.–half-consciously created by drinkers as they sat and fidgeted and chatted away. 

Rivane Neuenschwanders collection of straws, napkins, rolled up papers, collected from restaurants

So there are definite pleasures to be had at A Day Like Any Other, but the whole exhibition takes maybe a half hour to get through, and that's if you stretch it out. For $12, it seems a little slight. For free, its just right. The one down side to the New Museum NYC's Free Thursdays is that Sky Room is only open on weekends, so you miss the glittering lights of downtown.   

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other, at the New Museum Details 

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other will be on display at the New Museum in NYC from now through September 19, 2010. The New Museum is located in Soho at 235 Bowery, at the eastern end of Prince Street, and is open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and on Thursdays until 9:00 p.m.. Admission is free from 7:00 until 9:00 every Thursday night. For more information, please the New Museum NYC website.  


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