MoMA PS1: James Turrell

Installation view of James Turrell, Meeting, 1980-86/2016, at MoMA PS1. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mark and Lauren Booth in honor of the 40th anniversary of MoMA PS1. Photograph: Pablo Enrique'

James Turrell. Meeting. 1980-86/2016 750

Installation view of James Turrell, Meeting, 1980-86/2016, at MoMA PS1. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mark and Lauren Booth in honor of the 40th anniversary of MoMA PS1. Photograph: Pablo Enriquez

James Turrell: I came to do this show called the “Rooms” show. And then took off the roof. It turned out to be about four-and-a-half feet of concrete up there, because it was made to actually take floors above it. I had to have a compressor craned up onto the roof to have the jackhammer, and then I jackhammered that all out.

The idea of the meeting of the space inside to the space in the sky, and feeling that juncture, having it be a visceral, almost physical, feeling, as though there were material or something there. Because in my work, I often took light and gave it a feeling of thing-ness, of solidity.

And the big thing is that any time you light a white surface with warm light in the interior, you’ll intensify it in the opening, the quality of blueness. It can be a rainy day and you’ll have blue sky. So this idea that we make color, something we’re quite unaware of, that we give the sky its color, was something that I was doing in this piece. And that was the first one to involve doing that. Before, it was just working with the space outside of the space inside. But basically, our light, the light on the inside stays on, and when it’s the end of the day and still daylight, you don’t notice the light that’s on in the interior, because our light is not of much significance. But then, as the light goes down in the sky with dusk, the light on the interior becomes more prominent, and it has this effect on the coloration of the sky.

There was always problems, you know, on the island of having the sort of rough-and-tumble early shows of young artists, and this was a place that was really dedicated to that. And if you wanted the roof off, you took the roof off. If you needed to live there, you lived there. All of those things would happen. So it had that kind of quality.

This is something that really did start me off, and I have a great affection for PS1. Because that was really something special that occurred here.

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