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Björk dresses as a cactus for her MoMA preview

By
Howard Halle
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Björk dressed as a cactus.

That was the highlight of today's preview of the Icelandic alt-diva's MoMA retrospective/extravaganza. The occasion was the introduction of her latest video, "Black Lake," specially commissioned by the Modern for the exhibition.

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Ink-stained wretches of the media were let in and kept waiting in the stifling dark for half an hour, until curator Klaus Biesenbach arrived, followed by the star in a saguaro outfit that completely obscured her body and face. She thanked everyone involved in mounting the show, then left. Her remarks lasted about two minutes.

The video itself is vintage Björk, though in downbeat mode, with the singer crawling around Iceland's volcanic landscape to the sound of mournful cellos (see embedded trailer). Besides a sort of weird tesla-coil sculpture/audio installation, making pounding, percussive sounds with electrical sparks, the rest of the show consists of props, costumes and sheet music divided among a twisting warren of separate spaces or bays, each representing a particular video/song from her career.

The presentation is a marvel of high-tech. After entering through a corridor lined with flatscreens playing all of her videos, you're given headphones and a sort of iPod device activated by a motion sensor. As you move through the rooms to gaze at, say, the robots from 1999's "All Is Full of Love” the actual song is tripped by the handheld device and starts to play. Songs change as you move from room to room. It works no matter which direction you take, even when you double back to a room to look at something again.

The space for this part of the show is pretty confined, so MoMA will likely issue timed tickets to get in. So if you're planning to go, expect long lines and a truly unique experience.

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