Reactor

MoMA Goes Gangnam Style in Support of Ai Weiwei

by Jillian Steinhauer on November 16, 2012

The staff of New York's Museum of Modern Art going Gangnam Style

The staff of the Museum of Modern Art going Gangnam Style

The Museum of Modern Art posted this pretty fantastic photo on its Facebook page today — a shot of museum staff going “Gangnam Style” in support of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. If you’re confused about why a New York museum would support a Chinese artist by dancing to a mega-popular song by South Korean rapper PSY — as some of MoMA’s Facebook followers definitely were when they left comments accusing the museum of being racist (!) — a little background: Ai made a parody video of the mega-hit last month, which featured the artist prancing around his studio, occasionally wearing handcuffs.

Of course, nothing by Ai is without political meaning, and the silly video was its own bit of rebellion: Ai titled it “Cao Ni Ma,” or “Grass Mud Horse” style, a phrase that people use in China to get past the internet censors, which also happens to sound like “fuck your mother.” Plus, as a New Yorker blog post explains:

[B]y including the anti-censorship trope in his “shanzhai” version of Psy’s video, itself a symbol in China of the power of cultural ferment, [Ai] exposes the absurdity of the Chinese government seeking to promote creativity while maintaining its strict censorship laws.

Although Ai’s video was quickly removed by Chinese authorities, he has called on the art world to rally and make their own versions of Gangnam style. Hence a gathering at the artist Anish Kapoor’s London studio yesterday, and the MoMA shot.

Some people have called out the museum in reaction to the photo: one commenter on Facebook wrote, “Is this MoMA’s staff? No diversity at all,” and @petitemaoiste, after tipping us off to the photo, followed up with this tweet:

While both of those are completely valid points, we have to admit that the picture is pretty great. Who is that guy in front, and how can we get him for the next Hyperallergic party? Glenn Lowry, we didn’t know you had it in you! We can’t wait to see the full video — plus the ones apparently coming from Tate, the Guggenheim, and the New Museum. Maybe all the New York museums could all have a Gangnam-Style dance-off, judged remotely over Skype by Ai Weiwei … or better yet, PSY himself.

(h/t @petitemaoiste)

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  • http://twitter.com/sgentiluomo Shayna Gentiluomo

    The guy in front might be Todd Bishop. He is absolutely lovely.

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