New York, November 2, 2008
Dear Ms. Phillips,
For the past three Sundays, I have spent my afternoons on the Bowery at the intersection between the New Museum and the Bowery Mission, seated at my portable Homeless Museum booth. Through countless one-on-one conversations with museum visitors and homeless parishioners, I have come to realize how much the New Museum and the Bowery Mission, one of the last faith-based homeless shelters of the area, have in common.
The current Elizabeth Peyton exhibit, Live Forever, touches upon the question of eternal life we find at the core of Christian beliefs. The Mary Heilmann exhibit, To Be Someone, expresses the human craving for self-fulfillment, which the Church answers with calls for compassion and faithfulness. The Bowery Mission's current theme of the month is "Great is His Faithfulness."
Seeing how museum visitors and parishioners alike seek inspiration and insights for their own lives by paying Sunday visits to their preferred institution, I was all the more delighted to hear that the New Museum has lined up an ambitious International Triennial for Emerging Artists. I am especially elated by the inspired concept and title for its first edition, "Younger Than Jesus" (scheduled for Spring 2009) that proudly spells out the New Museum's Christian leanings and prophetic mission. There is even an intriguing mystical element in the way the New Museum has embedded a reoccurrence of the number "3" into the show's concept: A triennial event evoking a member of the Holy Trinity involving artists younger than 33 (the reported age of Jesus at the time of his death), put together by a team of 3 curators (Lauren Cornell, Massimiliano Gioni and Laura Hoptman).
What other institution but the New Museum could be bold enough to usher in the future by exhibiting works by emerging artists whose customs, as announced in your press release, "[have] not fully [been] assimilated by the rest of us"? I cannot wait to see it. 33 years from now, people will no doubt look back in awe and recognize how the New Museum helped pave the way to a new era. Let's hope many of the exhibited artists live to be 66!
I wanted to approach you with a suggestion for the Triennial's second installment that would enable the New Museum to expand its missionary ambitions. For the 2012 Triennial, I propose a show exhibiting art made exclusively by virgins of any age called "Holier Than Mary." To further purify the entire undertaking, New Museum employees and the public would be encouraged to pledge sexual abstinence for the duration of the show - an action that may very well accelerate the Second Coming.
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