Static Liberty

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) displays Steve McQueen’s Static (2009), a recently acquired digital projection of a 35mm film in The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium from 6 May. Part of MoMA’s ongoing Inbox series, which highlights new acquisitions to the museum’s collection, the film installation features scenes shot from a helicopter circling the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbour.

McQueen aptly captures Lady Liberty both in furtive, detailed close-ups and from further away. As the work’s title suggests, the statue remains fixed and intended to be gazed at from afar, even as the many perspectives from which it is encountered are subject to change. Combined with the sound of helicopter blades, the film exudes a sense of unease and uncertainty – something that seeks to both scrutinise and showcase one of North America’s most iconic symbols. Made in 2009 to coincide with President Barack Obama’s motion to reopen the Statue of Liberty to the public on 4 July after the its eight-year closure following the attacks of 9/11, this is the first time that Static will be presented in a key public space.

MoMA’s Inbox series has displayed new acquisitions since 2014, and previous installations have included: Inbox: Jasper Johns, Inbox: The Original Emoji, by Shigetaka Kurita, Inbox: August Sander, Inbox: Channa Horwitz, Inbox: Glenn Ligon, and Inbox: Haegue Yang, Spice Moons. This unique programme highlights the museum’s key motive (as stated in its first brochure in 1929) to “acquire, from time to time, a collection of the best modern works of art.” This process remains central to its mission and the gallery acquires a diverse selection of modern and contemporary artworks every year.

Inbox: Steve McQueen, Static, 6 May – Summer 2017, The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, MoMA, New York.

Find out more:

1. Steve McQueen, Static, 2009.