Stage is a participatory installation and sound work that draws on the history of the microphone as a tool for protest and public oratory, while recalling the metonymic references to microphones in hip-hop lyrics from the 1980s to the present. The work features a yellow powder-coated stage, with Johnson’s signature markings, on which stands of varying heights hold five SM58 microphones, the legendary model that has become a music industry standard since its introduction to the market in the mid 1960s. Echoing unofficial sites of public intellectual and cultural life, such as Speaker’s Corners in London’s Hyde Park and Harlem’s 135th Street and Lenox Avenue, the installation offers a place for the public to speak their mind. In this moment of vast uncertainty and widespread protest, the work also points to the tension between the power of the voice as a tool for change, and fear of the voice as a potential transmitter of illness.
MoMA PS1 invites you to get onto Stage. Use a microphone, and make your voice heard throughout the courtyard, contributing to this expanding collaborative and participatory audio repository. Participants’ statements will be recorded and rebroadcast into speakers installed throughout the courtyard. Rashid Johnson: Stage will also function as a flexible site for programs and performances, featuring performers, poets, activists, and musicians, all available on MoMA PS1’s digital platforms as an archive that captures the urgencies and interests of our unstable times. Stage is on view as part of PS1 COURTYARD: an experiment in creative ecologies.
Visitors are invited to safely participate in Rashid Johnson’s Stage. The work is sanitized between each use, and visitors are required to wear face masks when interacting with the installation and throughout their visit.