/ Director Noterdaeme working at the HOMU Booth on the Bowery 
Director Noterdaeme working at the HOMU Booth on the Bowery

Mission on the Bowery

In the fall of 2008, HOMU Director Filip Noterdaeme hit the Bowery on the Lower East Side in Manhattan with his new portable HOMU booth. For 4 consecutive Sunday afternoons, Noterdaeme positioned himself at the intersection between the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Bowery Mission, linking the two institutions through his presence and performance (on November 2, 2008, this action was reported upon by The New York Times; check out the article here).

The Bowery Mission, created in 1879, is one of the last faith-based homeless shelters on the legendary Bowery, a street that used to be home to countless flophouses and cheap studio rentals for artists. The New Museum, created in 1977 as a place to show new and radical art in a new and radical way, opened its first permanent home on the Bowery in 2007. Noterdaeme first introduced his portable HOMU booth, which was inspired by Lucy's "Psychiatric Help" booth from Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts series, at the 2005 Armory Show in New York.

Seated at the HOMU booth over the course of 4 long afternoons, Noterdaeme had interactions with people as diverse as bankers, homeless men, art collectors, parishioners, and museum workers. In addition to offering one-on-one sessions to anyone willing to sit down with the Director, Noterdaeme handed out copies of open letters he had written during the week.

Each new Sunday's experience shaped the letters of the following week, one new pair of related letters for each Sunday. As a collection, the letters aim to capture and reflect the absurd realities and contradictions that shape the New Bowery.

You can read transcripts of all 8 letters below.

Sunday October 12

Letter I: Dear Stranger
Letter II: Dear Art Museum

Sunday October 19

Letter I: Dear Artist
Letter II: Dear Amateur

Sunday October 26

Letter I: Dear A. (a homeless man Noterdaeme met on the Bowery)
Letter II: Dear Amy (a young assistant curator from the New Museum)

Sunday November 2

Letter I: Dear Ms. Phillips (the Director of the New Museum)
Letter II: Dear Jesus Christ