Professor Jon Rubin and Lenka Clayton Launch “. . . circle through New York” with Guggenheim Museum

Posted on March 1, 2017

Today, March 1, 2017, marks the launch of the 6 month project: A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and a congregation’s call to action circle through New York created by Jon Rubin, Associate Professor of Art and Director of the MFA Program at Carnegie Mellon School of Art, and Pittsburgh-based artist Lenka Clayton. This project was commissioned as part of Guggenheim Social Practice to foster new forms of engagement between the museum, artists, and local communities, and will run through August 31, 2017.

. . . circle through New York gathers a diverse group of New York communities into a complex system of social and material exchange. Following a period of extensive research, the artists identified six very different public sites that lie along an imaginary circle drawn through Harlem, the South Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan’s Upper East Side. These spaces serve as the project’s co-creators and venues. Each venue worked with the artists to select an important aspect of their identity—referenced in the project’s full title— which will rotate among the six locations over a period of six months.

For example, when the oldest song in the world leaves the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World to travel around the circle, it will be hummed by Guggenheim Museum staff in the galleries daily during March; sung by the choir at St. Philip’s Church in Harlem during April; played at a pitch only audible to dogs at Pet Resources in the Bronx during May; interpreted by the student band at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens during June; and broadcast as a Bollywood music video at Jus Broadcasting in Queens during July.

These are just a few of the unique collaborations created by Clayton and Rubin’s project, challenging each partner site to repeatedly accept and care for the others’ value systems, public functions, or social character within its own routines. By encouraging moments of mutual cooperation, . . . circle through New York creates connections between sites that are usually separated by cultural, economic, geographic, or circumstantial boundaries. At the same time, the project aims to engage audiences at each location, whose daily lives may be fundamentally—and playfully—altered as they encounter this work of art. Clayton and Rubin’s project forges a shifting network of social relations founded on quiet humor, empathy, and the power of art to transform reality.

. . . circle through New York has been commissioned as part of Guggenheim Social Practice, an initiative made possible by a grant from the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.

A complete schedule of collaborations, related programs, and responses to the project can be found at

Participating partner sites for . . . circle through New York are: Pet Resources (S. Bronx), Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Queens), Jus Broadcasting (Queens), The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (Manhattan), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Manhattan), and St. Phillip’s Church (Harlem).