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Posted inArt

Patti Smith, MoMA and a Revolutionary Year

On December 19th of last year, Patti Smith and Michael Stipe gave a “walk-in performance” in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art to celebrate the centennial of Jean Genet — poet, playwright, novelist, radical leftist, hustler and thief.

It was also the final day of the uprising in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, which started three days earlier when Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor, set himself on fire and burned to death to protest the confiscation of his merchandize by the police. The timing of the performance and the Tunisia riots were, of course, purely a coincidence.

On December 19th of this year, alone with her guitar, Patti Smith returned to the same place — now occupied by an enormous obelisk holding aloft Sanja Iveković’s golden, hugely pregnant “Lady Rosa of Luxembourg” — to mark Genet’s 101st birthday.