As I crossed the MOCA parking lot, “The end is nigh…” blasted from the megaphone of a distant figure wearing a white sandwich board displaying the same prophecy painted in black capital letters. Winter weather kept everyone inside but the snow did not dissuade the messenger. Again, cryptically “The end is nigh.” transmitted from the megaphone without explanation into the night’s void. Puzzled, I left the determined crier in the cold and headed upstairs. Museum supporters and guests packed the exhibition space dressed for a night of art revelry, yet a lone figure stood out, serving as a bookend to his cohort below. Sans megaphone, he quietly strolled through the exhibition space with a sandwich board informing guests, “A new beginning is imminent.” The performer offered no explanation about the reason for the boards. I allowed a smile to creep up, since the proclamation of a new beginning seemed a bit more optimistic than the impending end below. Like a soapbox preacher in a business district, he contrasted with the cacophony of conversations, drinking, and celebration. Upon mentioning that I liked his board, he quietly reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pamphlet resembling a black and white zine distributed by reformed criminals and alcoholics preaching about Jesus in grocery store parking lots. Pleasurably this pamphlet lacked any superstitious ideology. The pamphlet contained handwritten thoughts about MOCA by visitors such as, “What’s beyond the faded banners might fool you.” or “… Trees with peeling bark …” Although this is the end, I anxiously await the imminent new beginning.
The “end” refers to this last exhibition at MOCA Cleveland’s current location in preparation for moving into a new building and exhibition space on Euclid Avenue later this year. Artist, Ben Kinsley, organized the two sandwich board preachers for a piece commissioned by MOCA. The performances will continue every Sunday from 12:30 – 1:30 pm until the end of the exhibition on March 24 with one actor at the 8501 Carnegie Avenue Location and the other at the 11400 Euclid Avenue. The show 8501 to 11400 (On Moving) also features commissioned work by Brandon Juhasz and Corrie Slawson.