Image: Maurizio Cattelan

As part of its series of new digital initiatives, the New Museum presents “Bedtime Stories,” a project launched on May 14, initiated by the artist Maurizio Cattelan (artist of the famous “Comedian” banana that sold for $120,000 at Art Basel Miami 2019). Inviting friends and other artists and performers he admires to keep us company, Cattelan imagined “Bedtime Stories” as a way of staying together during these days of isolation. Each participant has been asked to read a selection from their favorite book–a sentence, passage, chapter, or more–to be shared with the New Museum’s online audiences. Some chose to read existing works, others to read their own writings, still others to create impromptu performances. Whether drawn from memory, imagination, or cherished volumes kept close at hand, the recordings by artists were captured quickly in an unfiltered fashion on phones or laptops in their homes or studios around the world.

The chosen works come from poetry, literature, politics, dreams, and other far-flung destinations in the collective imagination. Some selections, like Rashid Johnson’s recitation from Amiri Baraka’s “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note,” David Byrne’s reading from Milton Rokeach’s “Three Christs of Ypsilanti,” and Thomas Hirschhorn’s reading from Simone Weil’s “Gravity and Grace,” speak to the political and spiritual upheaval of our time, while Marilyn Minter offers her political take in the form of an original limerick. Nicole Eisenman and Sarah Nicole Prickett have chosen an excerpt from Laurie Weeks’s delirious short story “Debbie’s Barium Swallow,” a work from the 1990s that remains searingly relevant today. Others likes Tacita Dean and Andra Ursuta offer poetic reflection through the words of Thomas Hardy and Witold Gombrowicz respectively, while Laure Prouvost and Seth Price offer a glimpse inside the surreal literary landscapes of their own heads.

Courtesy of Loma Vista Recordings, Thousand Mile Inc, and IggyPop.com

The series kicks off with a contribution from musician Iggy Pop reading a humorously touching love letter to a long-lost dog. Taken together, they compose a compendium of strange and inspiring tales from some of today’s most beloved artists to offer comfort, distraction, and amusement.

A new installment of “Bedtime Stories” will be made available each day through the end of June via the New Museum’s website and also shared on the Museum’s social media channels.

Participating artists include:
Black Thought, John Bock, David Byrne, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Minerva Cuevas, Tacita Dean, Cheryl Donegan, Jimmie Durham, Nicole Eisenman and Sarah Nicole Prickett, Rachel Feinstein, Mary Heilmann, Camille Henrot, Thomas Hirschhorn, Rashid Johnson, Joan Jonas, Jeff Koons, Gabriel Kuri, Maya Lin, Ibrahim Mahama, Marilyn Minter, Takashi Murakami, Nicolas Party, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton, Iggy Pop, Seth Price, Laure Prouvost, Ugo Rondinone, Cally Spooner, Michael Stipe, Suha Traboulsi, Wu Tsang, Andra Ursuta, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Jordan Wolfson among others

The New Museum is the only museum in New York City exclusively devoted to contemporary art. Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists from around the world. From its beginnings as a one-room office on Hudson Street to the inauguration of its first freestanding building on the Bowery designed by SANAA in 2007, the New Museum continues to be a place of experimentation and a hub of new art and new ideas.

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