The Evolving Meaning of Take Me (I’m Yours)

Installation view of the exhibition Take Me (I'm Yours). September 16, 2016 – February 5, 2017. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: David Heald.

Installation view of the exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours). September 16, 2016 – February 5, 2017. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: David Heald.

 

The Jewish Museum’s participatory exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours) is now halfway through its nearly five-month run and the artworks are being eagerly consumed by visitors. Featuring 42 international and intergenerational artists, every work was designed to be reproduced in the thousands, then taken away.

First mounted in 1995 at the Serpentine Gallery in London, Take Me (I’m Yours) was originally conceived by the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and the artist Christian Boltanski, who presented work of 12 artists exploring concepts of value and participation in contemporary art. More than 20 years later in New York City, the exhibition takes on new meaning at a collecting institution with an expanded group of artists addressing the issues of their time.

Since opening in New York on September 16, the exhibition has distributed more than:
6,000 T-shirts by Rirkrit Tiravanija
7,000 Political Ribbons by Andrea Bowers
15,000 fortune cookies by artists Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose
Plus thousands more by each of the 39 other artists in the exhibition

Giving away the artwork instead of holding onto it challenges the historical role of the museum, particularly one that collects. The contemporary collecting museum can be traced back to Renaissance Europe where private collections of cultural artifacts and the natural world were stored in cabinet-rooms known as Wunderkammers, or cabinets of curiosities. Owned by powerful merchants, these collections served not only as repositories of knowledge but also as potent symbols of their owner’s knowledge and power, often exoticizing any non-Western objects. In opposition, Take Me (I’m Yours) aims to democratize the museum for all visitors to take ownership of artworks, and curate their own personal art collections at home. In the words of artist Lawrence Weiner who created a stencil and tattoo for the exhibition, NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI, which translates from pidgin to English as “the art of today belongs to us.”

Works of art removed from the exhibition have now also taken on a new perspective. Through the hashtag #TakeMeImYoursNYC, which feeds into the Jewish Museum’s website, visitors have shared their own exhibitions and displays of artworks, many of which address the social and political issues of today.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-4-53-45-pm

A visitor’s collection of works from Take Me (I’m Yours): Alex Israel, Self-Portrait (Lapel Pin), 2016; Gilbert & George, The Banners, 2015; Rivane Neuenschwander, Watchword, 2012; Carsten Höller, Pill Clock (Red and White), 2015; Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (USA Today), 1990; Yoko Ono, capsule from Air Dispensers, 1971-2016; Lawrence Weiner, NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI, 1988-2016. Courtesy of Instagram user @ashtongilbert

 

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-4-53-57-pm

Claire Fontaine, Jeton (Please God), 2016. Courtesy of Instagram user @markbschlemmer: “I picked up this Claire Fontaine jeton at the #TakeMeImYoursNYC exhibition @thejewishmuseum last month. It has a very different meaning now.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-37-23-am

A visitor’s collection of works from Take Me (I’m Yours): Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2016 (Form Follows Function or Vice Versa No. Two), 2016; Andrea Bowers, Political Ribbons “Families Do Not Have Borders”, 2016; Uri Aran, Untitled, 2016; Koo Jeong A, Take Me (I’m Yours), The Jewish Museum NYC; Cara Benedetto, Blue Books, 2016; Daniel Joseph Martinez, America (Adopt a Refugee), 2016; Lawrence Weiner, NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI (The art of today belongs to us), 1988-2016; Adriana Martinez, Zero Lemon on the Run, 2016; Claire Fontaine, Jeton (Please God), 2016; Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose, Untitled (Fortune cookies), 2016 courtesy of Instagram user @amandafinuccio.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-12-08-41-pm

Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose, Untitled (Fortune cookies), 2016 courtesy of Instagram user @jonathanhouyee

 

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-37-35-am

A visitor’s collection of works from Take Me (I’m Yours): Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2016 (Form Follows Function or Vice Versa No. Two), 2016; Uri Aran, Untitled, 2016; Koo Jeong A, Take Me (I’m Yours), The Jewish Museum NYC; Cara Benedetto, Blue Books, 2016; Daniel Joseph Martinez, America (Adopt a Refugee), 2016; Lawrence Weiner, NAU EM I ART BILONG YUMI (The art of today belongs to us), 1988-2016; Adriana Martinez, Zero Lemon on the Run, 2016; Claire Fontaine, Jeton (Please God), 2016; Ian Cheng and Rachel Rose, Untitled (Fortune cookies), 2016; Dana Awartani, It Is He Who Created You From a Single Soul, 2016; Heman Chong, Monument to the People We’ve Conveniently Forgotten (I Hate You), 2008; Hans-Peter Feldmann, The Prettiest Woman, 2016; Gilbert & George, The Banners, 2015; Carsten Holler, Pill Clock, 2015; Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Sculpture for Docents, 2016; Alex Israel, Self-Portrait (Lapel Pin), 2016; Andrea Bowers, Political Ribbons, 2016 courtesy of Instagram user @michelem.c

 

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-5-33-42-pm

Jonathan Horowitz, HILLARY16, 2016 courtesy of Claudia Gould @claudiagould1109

 

Within a week of the United States Presidential election, artist Jonathan Horowitz’s poster was seen among post-it notes in the Union Square subway station in New York City. The poster’s placement and impact was exactly as the exhibition intended: the art was taken from the museum and given vitality in the streets, stripped of politics, but loaded with meaning.

Take Me (I’m Yours) is on view at the Jewish Museum through February 5, 2017.