MOCA Cleveland begins its 2016 programming this Friday with an opening reception for its Winter/Spring 2016 Exhibitions: Xavier Cha's abduct; Stranger, an international group exhibition exploring the imagined figure; Oliver Laric's Untitled animated installation; and Teenage Lontano, an immersive sound installation by Marina Rosenfeld. Opening night begins at 7 p.m. with associate curator Rose Bouthillier hosting an artist talk with Xavier Cha, followed by an Open Art Studio inspired by MOCA Cleveland's current exhibitions, as well as music and mingling from 8 to 10 p.m.
"Once again, we are bringing to Cleveland work by artists from around the globe who push at the boundaries of creative expression," MOCA Cleveland executive director Jill Snyder says. "This season includes artists from Canada, Denmark, France, Georgia, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the United States, all of whom are making significant contributions to how we understand ourselves in the contemporary world."
Stranger is organized by MOCA Cleveland's associate curator Rose Bouthillier. The exhibition collects a diverse roster of established artists from around the world. While their materials and processes may vary greatly, these artists each explore the use of the figure as a vessel for one's own consciousness — our thoughts, hopes, fears and desires.
"Stranger brings together some of the most exciting international artists working today," says Bouthillier. "Their practices are very diverse in terms of media and approach, but they share an interest in the body and how it is imagined. The works were chosen based on the intense feeling that emerges when you 'meet' an artwork. Do you sense it looking back at you? Does it have human qualities? These other bodies are vessels for us to project our memories, dreams and narratives, but they also push back, asserting their own sense of self."
Artists participating in Stranger include:
Huma Bhabha (1962, Karachi, Pakistan), lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York;
Valérie Blass (1967, Montreal, Canada), lives and works in Montreal;
Sascha Braunig (1983, Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada), lives and works in Portland, Maine;
Antoine Catala (1975, Toulouse, France), lives and works in New York;
Ian Cheng (1984, Los Angeles), lives and works in New York;
Simon Dybbroe Møller (1976, Aarhus, Denmark), lives and works in Berlin;
Cécile B. Evans (1983, Cleveland, Ohio), lives and works in London and Berlin;
Andro Wekua (1977, Sukhumi, Georgia), lives and works in Zurich and Berlin;
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (1977, London), lives and works in London;
Xavier Cha was born in Los Angeles, but now lives and works in New York. She received her MFA from the University of California Los Angeles in 2004 and her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S., as well as in France and Germany.
Cha's new short film, abduct, is a startling exploration of the body, human emotions and the viewer's own subjectivity. The 12-minute film was commissioned by MOCA Cleveland, and produced in collaboration with Frieze Films, a series of new films commissioned from established and emerging artists premiering each year as part of Frieze London's nonprofit curated program, Frieze Projects. A four-minute version of the film debuted at the Frieze London art fair this past October. Frieze Film is supported by Channel 4's Random Acts, which will broadcast the commissioned films across the U.K.
"Xavier Cha's work powerfully speaks to the contemporary moment, and the ways in which technology shifts how we understand ourselves" says Bouthillier. "There is a constant negotiating of online presence, digital personas, and the physical bodies we deal with every day. abduct is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, as the actors seem to be confused and overtaken by these different expressions. It has an arresting effect, because there is no clear, genuine feeling that can be easily identified."
The film's actors convey conflicting emotions, as if multiple personalities were battling for control of their host. Without any dialogue, these actors rapidly shift through extreme emotions. The camera focuses on the actors' faces, but does occasionally drift down their bodies. Rather than focusing on a particular emotion, the focal point becomes the transition between emotions. Sometimes it appears as if the actor becomes a different person altogether.
The museum is also producing Cha's first catalog with texts by Bouthillier, associate curator of Frieze Projects Lauren Wetmore, and curator and associate director of technology initiatives at the New Museum Lauren Cornell.
MOCA Cleveland's Winter/Spring 2016 exhibitions remain on view through May 8. General admission is $9.50; $6 for seniors 65 and older, and $5 for students with valid ID. Admission for MOCA Cleveland members, and children under 6, is free. MOCA Cleveland is free to the public on the first Saturday of each month; MOCA Free First Saturdays are made possible by the generous support of PNC.
MOCA Cleveland is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (9 p.m. on Thursdays), Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Mondays.
The fun continues this weekend as MOCA Cleveland and Cleveland Institute of Art's Cinematheque collaborate to bring Matthew Barney's new, five-hour masterpiece to Cleveland. All three acts of Barney's River of Fundament will be shown at the Cinematheque on both Saturday, Jan. 30 and Sunday, Jan. 31. Act 1 begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 per act or $30 for each day.