There is an old saying, “I don’t know art, but I know what I like.” Those who relate to that statement may appreciate The Artist Project, an online video series presented by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in which 100 artists respond to works from The Met’s vast collection. Each artist was invited to choose single works or art or focus on galleries that spark their imagination.
Over the course of the year, The Artist Project will be presented in five seasons of 20 episodes each. Season 1, which runs through June 22, consists of 20 artists including Cory Arcangel, John Baldessari, Nick Cave, Alexander Melamid, Tom Sachs and Mickalene Thomas. The following seasons will begin in June, September, December and next February.
Cory Arcangel on the harpsichord: “I have this fixation on the harpsichord because I like to work with stuff when people are looking the other way. You’re no longer susceptible to cultural pressure, ’cause once something becomes dated, they basically don’t exist to culture.”
The Artist Project takes what was presented in one medium and uses video to tell the story in a new way. “Each episode of The Artist Project features a slide show of photos of the artist with their chosen work or works supplemented by an artist voiceover,” explains series producer Teresa Lai, who is senior manager of online publications and senior producer for digital media at the Met. “Instead of live action with video, we decided that photos would more closely re-create the experience of a work of art for the audience.”
The online experience enables those who don’t live near New York City to experience the work in the museum’s vast halls and thus helps expose the art to those who may have never seen it. “The Artist Project shares the Met’s collection with new audiences who are interested in the artist perspective and in art overall,” says Christopher Noey, series director and general manager of creative production for digital media at the Met. “Here we give artists an opportunity to respond to our encyclopedic collection, to reflect on what art is—and in so doing, they reveal the power of a museum and the Met in particular. We hope that their unique and passionate ways of seeing and experiencing art encourages all museum visitors to look in a personal way.”
Izhar Patkin on Shiva as Lord of Dance: “I see today that the role of an encyclopedic museum cannot be underestimated. It’s the one place that requires tolerance as the first rule of entering the institution.”
Noey adds, “The Met is open to the public seven days a week. The technical challenges of the project were limited to setting up photography shoots in the gallery during museum hours without disrupting the daily gallery activities in the museum.”
The Artist Project can be found at www.metmuseum.org/artistproject. Visitors can subscribe for updates to the series.