Francis Alÿs, “The Modern Procession” (2002)


The Modern Procession, organized by artist Francis Alÿs (b.1959, Antwerp, Belgium) and presented by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art, is modeled after a traditional ritual procession. Beginning in front of MoMA at 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue at 9am, the procession parades through midtown Manhattan, crosses the Queensboro Bridge into Long Island City, marches along Queens Boulevard, and ends at the door of MoMA QNS (33rd Street at Queens Boulevard). Both festive and ceremonial, the procession makes the museum’s historic transition both visible and public, linking the two boroughs in a spectacular and memorable way.

A 12-member Peruvian brass band, Banda de Santa Cecilia, sets the pace for the procession. More than 150 uniformed participants carry reproductions of MoMA’s most famous works—Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, and Alberto Giacometti’s Standing Woman—on handheld wooden carriages. The presence of these reproductions pays homage to the history of MoMA while celebrating the cultural and economic potential of bringing art into the streets. Artist Kiki Smith serves as a representative of contemporary art. Carried by fellow participants, Smith leads the spectacular procession, which also includes banners, dogs, and scattered rose petals.