I went to the MOMA today with a few friends. I split off from the rest of the group and started looking through the Minimalist work on the 4th floor, eventually stopping in a room with Richard Serra’s “Delineator.” Thinking it was just another piece I didn’t like, I was ready to move on until I read the label “Please feel free to step on the floor component of this work.”
Go ahead. Step on it. Yes, you can read this again, but it’ll still say the same thing.
I walked up to the edge but didn’t do anything. Feeling this antsy suspense in my body, I physically could not step on it. No one else was there. No guards, no tourists, nothing. I took a step back and began to watch other visitors poke their heads in or even wander in to do the same thing. Walk up to the very edge… but not take that final step. I tried to play it cool, quietly laughing to myself, just waiting for that one person to take the leap I couldn’t. It was surprising at how many people walked in and around the piece without touching it.
Finally, someone wandering on his own, like I was, walked up to the concrete and casually rubbed his right foot on the closest corner. My heart skipped a beat. I ran up to him laughing and joking, only then realizing he was French and couldn’t speak English fluently. I slowed down and pointed to the sign. We both laughed, walked up to the edge and stepped on it like we were testing the water in a pool, soon jumping in. Stomping all over it, like kids with nothing better to do.
Not sure if any of that was Serra’s intention, but the fact that it made me rethink about the way I approach art in a museum was worth the trip.