Clifford Owens: Anthology

November 13, 2011–May 7, 2012

For his first exhibition at a New York museum, Clifford Owens (American, b. 1971) presents a new project Anthology, which is comprised of photography, video, and live performance.

Anthology features performances scores—written or graphical instructions for actions—that Owens solicited from a multigenerational group of African-American artists. Twenty-six major artists have contributed scores, nearly all of whom composed new works specifically for Owens and his project.

Owens has long known that African-American performance art has been under-recognized and that its history remains largely unwritten. Rather than producing scholarly research on the topic, Owens has created an unprecedented compendium of African-American performance that is both highly personal and historical in nature.

During the summer of 2011, Owens had studio space at MoMA PS1 and made use of the entire building to enact the performance scores, which range from vague commands to highly choreographed movements and actions. On a weekly basis, Owens performed in various locations including the basement boiler room, rooftop, and attic. Through Owens' subjective reading of each score, he underscores the mutability and elastic nature of the sets of instructions.  The resulting photographs, videos, and objects will be presented in the exhibition. The artist will also perform selected scores live throughout the course of the show.

Anthology scores have been contributed by artists including Derrick Adams, Terry Adkins, Sanford Biggers, Aisha Cousins, Sherman Fleming, Coco Fusco, Charles Gaines, Malik Gaines, Rico Gatson, Rashawn Griffin, Lyle Ashton Harris, Maren Hassinger, Steffani Jemison, Jennie C. Jones, Nsenga A. Knight, Glenn Ligon, Dave McKenzie, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O'Grady, Benjamin Patterson, William Pope.L, Jacolby Satterwhite, Xaviera Simmons, Shinique Smith, Kara Walker, and Saya Woolfalk.

  • Installation view of Clifford Owens: Anthology at MoMA PS1, 2011. Copyright 2011 MoMA PS1; photo: Matthew Septimus.

  • Installation view of Clifford Owens: Anthology at MoMA PS1, 2011. Copyright 2011 MoMA PS1; photo: Matthew Septimus.


Clifford Owens: Anthology is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Assistant Curator of MoMA PS1.

The exhibition is made possible by MoMA's Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art and by Bernard Lumpkin and Carmine Boccuzzi. 

Images, slideshow: 1) Clifford Owens. Anthology (Nsenga Knight) (detail). 2011. Performance still. Courtesy On Stellar Rays.  2) Clifford Owens. Anthology (Dave McKenzie) (detail). 2011. Performance still. Courtesy On Stellar Rays.  3) Clifford Owens. Anthology (Senga Nengudi) (detail). 2011. Performance still. Courtesy On Stellar Rays.

Clifford Owens: Anthology Performances

Special performances by Clifford Owens as part of Anthology.

December 17, 2PM

January 14, 3PM

February 11, 3PM

March 11, 12:30 PM