First I have to make a note about the last blog on MOMA and modern art. I’ve consciously blurred the lines between modern and comtemporary, art and architecture – because I do not believe that modern architecture is dead in 1972, neither is modern art. Actually both are still quite active today, especially architecture.

I have been to P.S.1 before but never asked myself what PS means. Maybe an artist thing, I told myself. But clearly I was not looking  last time. P.S. apparently means Public School. And PS1? Yes the first public school in Long Island, 1892. I was really hoping to dig something intersting about this school building, but nothing much came up – unless I physcially go to the library/research center of course.

P.S.1 dates allegedly (every historical “fact” in this post will be allegedly since I can’t find any primary sources) to 1892, a handsome Romanesque Revival solid structure, served as the first public school in Long Island until its shutdown in 1963 and was turnd into a warehouse. In 1997, the building reopened as P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. The renovation was done by architect Frederick Fisher. Brief introduction of the project is here.

If you take a look at the overall composition from the above link, you can easily see that half of the building has been brutally sliced off to make way for contemporary intervention – entrance and courtyard. The common brick facades of previous courtyards have been exposed, which suit contemporary art quite well.

This entrance was added after 2009 I believe.

Like I said, not much historical information on this building can be found on the web. Not a local landmark, no HABS documentation, not National Register listed – essentially a non-descriptive building – just like thousands more scattered in the city. But at least this one has a new life.

All I can find is a few undated historical image of the building when it still served as the Public School. All three images’ credit go to the Greater Astoria Historical Society. Their website is here.

As usual I’m not an expert in translating cursive handwritings. Any ideas?

The same corner as it stands today (far left in the historic image):

And there’s that. The rest will be spent looking at contemporary architecture and art.

A slice of spring via the concrete perimeter:

Plan diagrams showing where the current exhibitions are located – written with a chaulk in hand:

A detail of the recessed lighting on the concrete wall along the courtyard. Recessed + Concrete is a great combo.

A travel trailer from Sovereign: now a mobile bookstore. Interior floor is made of plywood and squeaks a lot.

Interactive installation – Golden Ghost by Surasi Kusolwong. It invites people to dive in and find the gold necklaces which they can take home. But even if you don’t find anything, simply enjoy the texture – it would make you laugh.

Notably this is a double height space which seems to get hold of good art from time to time: last time when I was here there was a double-deck transparent swimming pool.

My shadow on an Ionic:

Graffiti everywhere on the stairhall walls:

Finally something historic again – boiler room. I would never guess historic HVAC would be so dazzling, 1902 to be precise.

Golden, glittering brass.

Oh, I almost forgot – this is also an art installtion: some grates on the floor.