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A Sort of Joy

A Sort Of Joy (Thousands of Exhausted Things)


The Elevator Repair Service

Mark Hansen

Ben Rubin

Ellery Royston

Role: Lead Artist

A Sort of Joy (Thousands of Exhausted Things) is a performance of the Museum of Modern Art’s 123,951 object collections database.


The work is a collaboration between Elevator Repair Service Theater and The Office for Creative Research.


Using MoMA’s collections database of 123,951 items, the two companies created a variable performance script that is delivered to actors electronically as they roam throughout the second floor galleries of the museum.


Artwork titles, artist names, materials and dimensions all become fodder for exchanges between performers; this spoken text and the ambient sound that accompanies it is experienced through wireless stereo headphones worn by audience members. The performance takes the form of an extended audio tour in which the patterns, idiosyncrasies and secrets of this enormous database are revealed to museum-goers, and the database itself takes its place in the galleries alongside the very artworks it contains.


Every word spoken during the performance comes directly from the database.

This project is part of MoMA’s Artists Experiment, an annual initiative in the Department of Education that brings together contemporary artists in dialogue with MoMA educators to conceptualize ideas for developing innovative and experimental public interactions, and is made possible by Paula and Jim Crown.

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