As is the custom, MoMA PS1 waived all admission fees this past Sunday afternoon for its annual Spring Open House, inviting the public to a grand unveiling of the new Spring/Summer pieces. They will now all be on view until at least through Labor Day. Here's a look at what's new:
• Thomas Rafa's "The New Nationalists" is a potent video-documentary piece with a half dozen screens playing cinéma vérité portraits of the extreme right-wing groups gaining power right now in Central Europe (and, occasionally, of the Antifa who boldly confront them on the streets). Needless to say, much of the xenophobic, white-supremacy rhetoric Rafa has recorded in, for example, his native Slovak, will resonate loud and clear for anyone paying attention in America today.
• "Clear Day" is Maureen Gallace's large exhibition of very small, very quiet paintings. Gallace's tightly focused landscapes are all pretty and pastoral at first glance, and her color palate is gentle, but there are hints of distress going on within the postcard-like settings. You may be tempted to breeze through these galleries, but the work rewards careful, contemplative viewing, and the cumulative effect of the collection is surprisingly powerful.
• The MoMA PS1 archives have been culled for a mostly visual history of the museum. Titled "A Bit of Matter," you'll find flyers, posters, amazing old photographs, artist proposals, design plans, and other ephemera that tell the PS1 story from 1976 to 2000.
• "Past Skin" is a group exhibition for which six different artists have attempted to meet historian and feminist Donna Haraway's challenge, "Why should our bodies end at the skin?" There are 20 pieces incorporating a range of media, together offering a sliver of understanding into what it means that we now inhabit, in our daily lives, both a physical and a digital world. You'll find this one spread out in the "classroom and office" galleries on the second floor and in the lobby.
• Ian Cheng describes his epic "Emissary" trilogy as a "video game that plays itself", and features three self-contained worlds that the artist populated with flora and fauna, applied the basic rules of physics, then let it run wild to see how what would evolve. In the right frame of mind you could spend a long time in this room.
In addition to the five new shows, notable holdovers include Cinthia Marcelle's mesmerizing "Education By Stone," for which she placed pieces of chalk in the cracks between the bricks of this atrium-like gallery; For Freedom's 100-day residency, coinciding with President Trump's first 100 day and featuring thousands of handmade, mostly excoriating signs from visitors; and James Turrell's masterpiece of light and simplicity, "Meeting."
And remember, grabbing a bite at MoMA PS1's cafeteria M. Wells Dinette, with its menu of meaty, big-flavored dishes, is always a good idea.