Art Parties

Artist James Turrell Goes Off Book at MoMA PS1’s 2023 Gala

Sarah Arison, Klaus Biesenbach, Agnes Gund, Almine Rech, James Turrell, and Kyung Turrell. 
All photography by Matteo Prandoni/BFA and courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Last night, the past, present, and future put on reasonable shoes and met up at MoMA PS1 for its annual gala, which began in its graveled courtyard and worked its way up to the former school’s rafters for a Solange-spiked afterparty. The newly appointed future Director Connie Butler, was already there when I arrived, as was the founder of the museum, Alanna Heiss, and goddamn every curator I’d ever known who’d worked there. I wasn’t ready to introduce myself. 

Luckily, I spied Sean-Kierre Lyons sporting a jealousy-inducing ombre-lip and holding Potpourri, their poodle. They had just finished installing their first show at Deli Gallery earlier that day. I told them I wouldn't fight my way towards the bar. They understood. We are both Tauruses in Taurus season, so we instead let the people come to us. Thankfully, Devin N. Morris found us quick. Then White Cube’s Courtney Willis Blair, and we had two out of two dogs at the party in our camp. It snowballed from there. More and more familiar faces kept arriving, Danny Báez, Gia Kuan, and Jeremy O. Harris were all dressed to impress, as was the schoolyard in its long-tented nave, single armed transept, and white crystal stalactite speakers. 

I was relieved to find myself seated next to Jessi Reaves and Raque Ford in the transept where I could still see both poodles and had an uninterrupted view of the stage. Philanthropist Sarah Arison kicked things off—introducing the accomplishments of her fellow board member Robert Soros before handing the floor to Ruba Katrib, who introduced the artist honorees: Anicka Yi, Daniel Lind-Ramos, and James Turrell

All three took very different approaches to their speaking time slot. Yi floated up on a cloud of sequins and pink before taking the audience back to earth, describing herself as a hub for creating activity and thanking her studio and gallery. Lind-Ramos kept it short and sweet, all thank you’s, no filler. Turrell let it rip. Introduced first by Katrib and then by Heiss, his longtime collaborator and friend, Turrell took the opportunity to share an anecdote from his time working and living out of PS1: a story that kept the audience on their toes as it sallied into nail gun fights, waitresses with flair, and the time Turrell was sued by the Whitney Museum of American Art. He ended it with a vision of young, beautiful Heiss in the center of this great experiment. By the time he was done, there was no more left to say. Dessert was served. And Venus X led the transition from dinner to the dancefloor.