Ideas are Key to 'Homeless' Tour of Art

By ALEX SCHUBERT, special to The Kansas City Star
June 17, 2006

Filip Noterdaeme has been known to welcome visitors to his two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment by playing the fake-bearded director of the Homeless Museum.

The Belgian-born New York artist calls his bathroom the museum's "Curatorial Department" and has appointed a stuffed coyote its "Director of Public Relations."

A "Homeless Museum"? It's not what you think.

Founded by Noterdaeme in 2003, this semi-fictitious museum is simultaneously a send-up of art institutions and a triumph of word play: a museum without a building containing artworks revolving around homelessness.

Sponsored by Grand Arts, the project brings an ironic twist to the MTV show "Cribs," which tours the homes of celebrities.

"The dichotomy couldn't be wider. First, the dream of MTV's 'Cribs,' the promise of paradise, and then the reality of homelessness," Noterdaeme said.

Noterdaeme (who is also a lecturer at the Guggenheim Museum) provides all the artwork for his itinerant museum's collection, which has been housed in various locations including the sidewalk of the Museum of Modern Art.

Next year a new Homeless Museum, titled "NHoMu," will occupy an undisclosed location in Kansas City. For an early idea, you can join Noterdaeme for "HoMu Cribs, Kansas City" today. He will lead a tour at 2 p.m. through some Kansas City houses and apartments outfitted with copies of the artworks found in his Brooklyn home-- tailored to fit a local audience.

The $0.00 Collection, for example, will feature pieces of trash found around Kansas City grouped by color in front of reproductions of paintings from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The Homeless Simulator, a bread maker full of pennies turned on full blast (based on the phrase "making dough"), shows up in someone's closet.

"The Homeless Museum is about transience," said Grand Arts artistic director Stacy Switzer. "Different things can be transient besides people. Like ideas."