Bjork at MOMA

I love Bjork. I have loved her music since her Debut album. I still find it fresh and current. I don’t know about her persona as I am not that kind of a fan. Usually I hate anything that smacks of ingénue, that awful fakery of childishness and sexuality. Yuk.  But Bjork does a different thing, not ingénue, but openness. There seems to be an innocence, but she knows her craft, she knows music. She is her music.

So to be in New York when MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) were putting on a Bjork show was a great opportunity to see/know more. And we got to see it early without the crowds. I say this not to show off, but as I couldn’t imagine how to see it with many people at the same time. The tickets are timed as it takes a while to go through one of the ‘displays’, but there are other displays of videos that are running in loops. The curation seemed lacking, the exhibits were on three floors. Too much and too many and too unfocussed.

I love Bjork, but I couldn’t really get the ‘show’. The music videos are brilliant and great to see. Her latest one is raw emotion. Very brave and beautiful.

The narrative room, the main new part of this show uses her albums to make a journey. It is done by playing a track or two from each album in sequence with a story over the top of a girl creating a world and becoming part of that world. There are displays alongside of outfits, clothes worn for concurrent videos or album sleeves, which link the display to the music. There are notes from her lyric book, costumes from the video of that particular album, sets for all of this to sit in and music from the album playing alongside the narration.  I found it hard to take in, narration, notes, costumes, installations, music, everything all at once like an assault of the senses. As if the music wasn’t enough. It wasn’t an immersive space like an art work; it was documentary, but with too much evidence presented all at once, more like a nightclub than an art space. The narration made it feel like a story had been constructed and the albums fitted into it. All the wrong way round.

The David Bowie exhibition in London was at the V & A, a museum of culture and Bjork needed to be in a similar place.. Not an art gallery.

I still love Bjork. In the end I don’t really know what I saw in this show. It wasn’t art and it wasn’t fanzine. I’ll stick with the music.


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