MONmobile – Berlin’s Mobile Museum Brings Art to a COVID Audience / Dispatch From Isolation # 16

Thinking outside the box is a prerequisite for most graffiti writers and Street Artists. You may say that they are so unaccustomed to the prescribed routes of reaching an audience with art and ideas that they simply barge into new ones, and bringing the art to you.

The same can be said of the Berlin creative laboratory YES, AND … productions (YAP), and their forward-thinking cultural partners at the newly mobile Museum of Now (MON). Together they are presenting new ways of bringing art to the people.

MONmobile. Multiscalar . Museum Of Now and YES, AND…productions. (video screenshot courtesy of MON)

Now thinking outside the museum, the team brought the museum outside to Berlin streets this week thanks to their new nighttime programming that mixes classical western standard-bearers like Michaelangelo with modern masters of new forms like the light artist Multiscalar. The end result is a newly energized city block that projects both artists on facades just outside your living room, viewable from inside it.

MONmobile. Multiscalar . Museum Of Now and YES, AND…productions. (video screenshot courtesy of MON)

Allowing museum-goers to stay home and stay safely physically distanced from strangers, MON director Denis Leo Hegic tells us that the neighborhoods where MON has been this week have become suddenly alive. People are attracted to their windows by the blasting music and continue hanging out of them to watch the show, looking out at the few stragglers on the sidewalk who are likewise smitten by the unannounced exhibition suddenly stealing their minds for a moment, away from the mundane worries and credible fears of COVID-19.

MONmobile at work preparing their outing to the street. (video screenshot courtesy of MON)

Because of the heaviness of our time right now, Multiscaler chose a message that was optimistic – which you can see here. The artists’ messenger is Michelangelo’s David – writing a letter to us as he would perhaps send today.

Hegic tells us that the whole project was set up, planned and produced within just a few days as a joint venture between the Museum of Now and YAP. “Without the YAP crew, this project would never have seen the light of night,” he says.

With a projector and speakers in the back of a van, many an anarchist and artivist is familiar with using their voice to protest. For the museum, it is about making art accessible to everyone, and Hegic says that many institutions are committed to this, yet very few of them actually put this into practice.

“I believe that the post-Covid world will be different from what we know now, and it is up to us how we want to shape it, “ he says. “For my part, I will fight for a culture that is alive and vivid – and accessible to everyone and always.”

We had an opportunity to talk to Hegic more about the project:

MONmobile. (video screenshot courtesy of MON)

BSA: This is an ingenious solution to having a museum experience at a time when museums are necessarily closed. How do you choose the location of your exhibitions?

Denis Leo Hegic: At a time when we all have to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus outbreak, our cultural participation also decreases. Therefore, it is very important that we do everything we possibly can to keep art and culture from coming to a standstill. When choosing the locations, it is very important to have spots with great visibility from a large number of windows and balconies. We want the largest possible audience to be able to see the exhibitions from their homes

MONmobile. Multiscalar . Museum Of Now and YES, AND…productions. (video screenshot courtesy of MON)

BSA: Have you had the opportunity to speak with any audience members?

DH: We have not spoken to anyone in person as we keep physical contact to a minimum. But digitally, via social media and email, we have had a lot of exchange with the audience.

People are surprised and thankful to see a positive message. In times of crisis when doomsday news is omnipresent, it is art and culture that brings people together.

MONmobile. Multiscalar . Museum Of Now and YES, AND…productions. (video screenshot courtesy of MON)

BSA: Projections are often used for commercial pursuits as well today. Is it a challenge to communicate to people that this is intended as public art?

DH: Not at all. Everyone immediately understood what it was about. This is probably partly because we play quite loud music and sounds – which would be rather uncommon for advertising projections in housing areas. 

BSA: As a philosopher, academic, and aesthete, what or who was your inspiration for this project?

DH: The word “inspiration” comes from the word “muse”. And the muses reside in “museums” – the temples of inspiration. My inspiration, my muses are always the people, and if they can no longer come to the museum, we will bring the museum to them.