Bjork and the Arch Bishop

Bjork and Cardinal Egan do not have much in common – and not just because the latter died last week. But with the performer installed at MOMA and the holy man at St Patricks, the respective queues of their equally enthusiastic devotees came close while lining up for a personal viewing. MOMA offered timed tickets to see the new exhibition of the acclaimed musician, while around the corner St Patrick’s Cathedral opened their doors to public mourners before the official funeral mass began. Driven by curiosity to see the crypt, and with an hour on the clock, I queued for the chance to experience this rarely accessed resting place. Unfortunately, or not, this opportunity was reserved for those who may not have much say in the matter. So, MOMA it was…

Bjork’s presence in the gallery was as big, relatively, as her presence in the music world. Visions of her were beamed on a giant wall running through the core of the building which you could see from multiple vantage points. Separate screens in smaller rooms played her music videos, and in even smaller spaces were her iconic gowns – including the Alexander McQueen bell dress and the famous swan dress Bjork wore to the Emmys. Handwritten notebooks presented her writings and inspiration, but the exhibition was essentially an audio experience, all about the music. The headphones and iPhone given as you enter accompanies your viewing with music and voice-overs appropriate to where you are standing, and dedicated fans took full advantage.

There has been much criticism of MOMA’s retrospective exhibition of Bjork’s work saying it lacks pizzazz and is even boring, not doing justice to the artist. Fortunately there are many other amazing things to see at the gallery, not least the Kara Walker silhouette of characters depicting an alternative interpretation of Gone With the Wind. And there will be many opportunities to look again at the artistically prolific Bjork – I’m sure if Cardinal Egan could comment from behind closed doors, he would suggest it’s not the end of the world…

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