Trisha Donnelly at Work on MoMA’s Next ‘Artist’s Choice’ Show

Redon, ‘Rocks on the Beach’ c. 1883. Oil on paper mounted on canvas, 10 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (Courtesy MoMA)

Just when it seemed like this Friday could not get any better, MoMA released details this afternoon about the upcoming “Artist’s Choice” show that Trisha Donnelly is organizing there with curator Laura Hoptman and collection specialist Cara Manes. It opens Nov. 2, and it sounds like it’s going to be a treat.

Ms. Donnelly, who is the 10th artist to participate in the “Artist’s Choice” series, which invites contemporary artists to organize shows with works from the museum’s collection, has some unusual plans for her show, according to press materials. Here’s a bit about what she has in store:

“Donnelly has chosen to dedicate one gallery to color photographs of natural subjects, primarily birds, by Eliot Porter (1901–1990). A group of microchip designs, featuring colorful and intricate works on paper from the Architecture and Design collection, are the focus of a second gallery. A third gallery will feature a chronologically eclectic mixture of drawings, photographs, and sculptures ranging from landscapes by Odilon Redon to drawings by contemporary Los Angeles artist Jim Shaw.”

Eliot Porter, ‘Blue-Throated Hummingbird, Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona,’ May 1959. Dye transfer print, 9 5/16 x 7 3/4 in. (© 1990 Amon Carter Museum of American Art)

She will also offer up “an archival audio tour from a landmark MoMA exhibition” and, at a program at the museum on March 11, “an untitled photo album (c. 1900).”

Ms. Donnelly’s work was featured in MoMA’s recent “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language” show, organized by Ms. Hoptman with curatorial assistant Eleonore Hugendubel, and presented a series of bracingly mysterious, beautiful abstract films in a movie theater in Kassel, Germany, for Documenta 13 this summer.

When she works in museums, some interesting things have happened in the past. Here’s a snippet of an impromptu performance recorded by a curator in the catalogue for her 2008 show at the ICA Philadelphia, transcribed by the blog Rolu:

“During the opening night tour, Donnelly, while answering my questions and offering her own comments on the exhibition, executed an action. Without explanation, she removed the lid of a long, narrow cardboard box and removed a large roll of quilted, black vinyl fabric. She laid it on the ground and unrolled it to reveal a black samurai sword. She unsheathed the blade, then the handle dagger, placing sheath, sword and dagger side by side atop the fabric. As soon as this was complete she reversed the sequence, sliding the dagger, then sword into the sheath, rolling it back into the fabric, closing the box, and exiting the gallery with the package.”

Which is to say: she very well may have some more surprises in the works. The show runs through April 8.

Trisha Donnelly at Work on MoMA’s Next ‘Artist’s Choice’ Show