MoMA PS1 has brought colonial times back to Queens, but in a way that is decidedly different from how the Dutch and English did it when they arrived there back in the 1600s. Called EXPO Colony, the experiment in alternative housing was made possible by Volkswagen, and has been hosting groups of scholars, artists, thinkers and designers all summer in a makeshift camp in the museum's courtyard. The cluster of retro campers, vertical gardens and tents even boasts a lookout tower with trees growing atop of it, and almost everything was created by Argentinian architecture firm a77 out of recycled materials. You might even recognize some items salvaged from past PS1 exhibits!
Part of MoMA’s EXPO 1 series exploring “ecological challenges in the context of the economic and socio-political instability of the early 21st century”, EXPO Colony focuses in specifically on the need for temporary housing that might arise from damage caused by future storms as well as the economic crises that have been plaguing the U.S. and other countries. The installation, which resides in a side section of MoMA PS1’s courtyard, has a post-apocalyptic feel that also somehow manages to be cheery and optimistic.
Guests of EXPO Colony – Sou Fujimoto, David Graeber, Ragnar Kjartansson, Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, Glenn O’Brien, Ben Rivers, Ben Russell, Georgia Sagri, and Mårten Spångberg, just to name a few – were invited to live communally for a week at a time within shiny silver trailers and canvas tents. The Colony was organized by MoMA Curator Pedro Gadanho and MoMA PS1 Associate Curator Jenny Schlenzka in consultation with German writer and architecture theoretician, Niklas Maak. The components that make up the living areas, bathrooms, kitchen, communal areas, scaffolding and lookout tower are largely recycled or reclaimed and were created by Gustavo Diéguez and Lucas Gilardi of a77.
“For us who stayed in the EXPO Colony it was an interesting, anarchic experience to be in this space designed for communal living inside the strict boundaries of a museum,” said temporary resident Ragnar Kjartansson. “It had this feeling of a low security, super liberal prison, with the MoMA PS1 architecture and the guards around. After this I have the highest regards to all the staff and guards at MoMA PS1. All good people and very helpful. We were a part of a hippie experiment inside the boundaries of an institution. I liked these opposites and many more poetic contradictions we experienced while living in the Colony.”
If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out EXPO Colony out for yourself, act fast, as it’s slated to close on September 2.