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Introductory remarks at Decoding Alibis at MoMA (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Last Wednesday the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) latest PopRally, Decoding Alibis, which was sponsored by Hyperallergic, filled the galleries of the institution’s massive Sigmar Polke retrospective. The event offered a new and interactive way to view Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010: with the help of handful of unexpected guests picked by both PopRally and Hyperallergic. After a wonderfully informative introduction by Magnus Schaefer, the MoMA curatorial assistant who worked on the show, and some brief remarks by our editor-in-chief, Hrag Vartanian, we let some 500 attendees loose to explore the galleries and the speakers and performers within them.

Magician Matthew Holtzclaw (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio) (click to enlarge)

Frank Trommler, cultural historian and Professor Emeritus of German, University of Pennsylvania, gave listeners background on the societal context for Polke’s art. Psychic Lauren, her sign-up sheet filled within minutes, read visitors’ palms, surrounded by Polke’s material experiments tinged with mysticism. Daniel Pinchbeck, author and expert in psychedelic shamanism, told tales of traveling to take drugs with different communities in search of enlightenment, in the process touching on the psychedelic nature of Polke’s output. Anny Aviram, a MoMA conservator, delved deeper into materials by highlighting the museum’s conservation of Polke’s “Watchtower” paintings, among other topics. And magician Matthew Holtzclaw wowed viewers with incredible tricks, including one — the first trick he learned — that uses a set of three cups visible in one of Polke’s pieces.

It was both an educational and exhilarating night. For those that missed it, here are some photos from the night.

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Hrag Vartanian and Magnus Schaefer (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Frank Trommler (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Frank Trommler (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Psychic Lauren (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Psychic Lauren (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Daniel Pinchbeck (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Daniel Pinchbeck (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Anny Aviram (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Anny Aviram (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Anny Aviram (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Matthew Holtzclaw (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Matthew Holtzclaw (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis at MoMA (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis at MoMA (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

Guests at Decoding Alibis at MoMA (photo by Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio)

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Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...