Throw Out Your Embarrassing Art at MoMA PS1

Sarah CasconeFriday, September 12, 2014

Bob and Robert Smith, <em>Artists Ruin It for Everyone</em> (2002). Photo: Bob and Roberta Smith, courtesy Pierogi Gallery, Brooklyn.

Attention artists! Do you have some embarrassing student work collecting dust in your studio? Fear not, MoMA PS1 and Bob and Roberta Smith have you covered with “Art Amnesty,” a program and collaborative art piece that will launch October 2.

Bob and Roberta Smith, a pseudonym for British artist Patrick Brill, is inviting you to throw your art away in dumpsters in the museum courtyard, which will be emptied periodically throughout the project. For those who want the chance to show off their bad artwork before its destruction, museum staff will also be collecting work in the second floor galleries, and installing it for public view.

Depending on how ashamed you are of your creations, participants in the program have two options: they can sign a pledge  promising that “I never want to see this work of art again,” or they can take a more drastic step by signing the statement “I promise never to make art again,” which comes with an official badge designed by Bob and Roberta Smith that proclaims to the world: “I am no longer an artist.” For those signees, there is no turning back, although they will be invited to make one last drawing for the exhibition from materials made available at the museum.

“Many successful artists have recently voiced embarrassment that their work commands high prices,” Bob and Roberta Smith notes in a press release. “Artists may also use the opportunity of the ‘Art Amnesty’ to expel certain works of art from the art market and demote them to objects unburdened by grand expectations and dashed dreams.”

While the project does let artists dispose of works of which they are now ashamed, it also provides the opportunity to offload unwanted art that was acquired as an ill-advised purchase or a misguided present. (The press release specifically seeks out “those who have been the victims of gifts of art.”)

Bob and Roberta Smith first offered this amnesty program back in 2002 at Brooklyn’s Pierogi Gallery, and will be contributing some of his own work.