MTAA is a Brooklyn-based artists’ collective that originated in 1996 and comprises Michael Sarff and Tim Whidden. The practice of this troupe is based in performance and relies on the participation of the community to create the work, which is generally ephemeral.
For their project at The Aldrich, All the Holidays All at Once, MTAA made a call to the community asking for the temporary loan of holiday-themed lawn ornaments in order to display them in the Sculpture Garden. The call came through posts at the Museum, local papers, Craigslist, and the artists’ URL, holiday.mtaa.net, where interested donors were given information on the project and the specifics of the loan. In exchange for borrowing the ornaments, MTAA will give each lender a signed “thank you” certificate.
Decorations celebrating holidays as varied as New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa will be arranged in a parade-like procession. A picnic/performance on August 21 will attempt to celebrate all the holidays at once over the course of the event.
This project, like most of MTAA’s inclusive and participatory projects, deliberately attempts to blur the boundary between artist as active producer and audience as passive receptor. These artists commend themselves by creating work whose material form is secondary, thus placing primary relevance upon the participation of the community, the performance, and the Web discussions, all of which favor the idea rather than the object. And the fact of coming together to accomplish something, to democratically organize ourselves to create something—even if that something may seem absurd—is a great testimonial to the potential of engaging and feeling engaged, and the different strategies that led to that accomplishment.
Mónica Ramírez-Montagut , curator.