The inaugural exhibition in MMoCA’s new Imprint Gallery, a space dedicated to presenting multimedia artwork, will be by L.A.-based artist Kim Schoen. Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong? Schoen’s first solo museum exhibition, will be on view to the public starting September 19, with an opening reception and artist-led roundtable discussion on Friday evening, September 18.
Kim Schoen, an interdisciplinary artist and writer, works with performative and experimental texts, photographs, and video installations. Her videos deconstruct the commercial landscape, exposing its mechanics, rhetoric, and established modes of persuasion—transforming attention-getting strategies into anti-climactic yet poetic observations.
The centerpiece of her exhibition at MMoCA, a 22-minute looping video also titled Have You Never Let Somebody Else Be Strong? focuses on the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Featuring a rotating program of choreographed water performances, the ostentatious display is set within an 8.5 acre man-made lake and is controlled by a complex network of pipes and nozzles propelling streams of water up to 460 feet into the air. Pulsing, twisting, and shimmying to the accompanying musical score and light show, the surging water is a highly visible tourist attraction along the Vegas Strip, a high-tech addition to the opulent spectacle of the luxury resort to which it is attached.
In celebration of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s ten-year anniversary in its striking Cesar Pelli-designed building, MMoCA will present Taking Their Place: Recent Acquisitions in Context, on view September 12 through January 3. Drawn exclusively from the museum’s permanent collection, Taking Their Place highlights more than 50 works in various media that have entered MMoCA’s collection within the past decade, several of which are on display for the first time. By bringing together newer acquisitions with more familiar favorites, this exhibition illuminates the conceptual and formal connections between existing and newer works, and offers insight into how and why a museum builds its collection.
In addition, Taking Their Place showcases MMoCA’s forward-looking mission to investigate the informational and aesthetic possibilities of digital, electronic, and moving-image art. Several works included in the exhibition speak to the museum’s expanded commitment to collect contemporary works of art employing digital technologies and time-based sequencing, such as Jennifer Steinkamp’s digital projection, Rapunzel 9. Shimmering and seductive, Rapunzel 9 blankets the vertical length of the gallery wall with swaying vines of wildflowers that appear to dematerialize the space of the gallery, transforming it into an illusionistic, enchanted landscape. For this work, the artist was inspired by the Grimm fairy tale about a woman so enraptured by the rapunzel plant, or rampion, growing in a witch’s garden that she gives up her unborn child in exchange for the flowering herb. The child, who the witch names Rapunzel and keeps locked away in a tall tower, eventually grows to be a beautiful maiden whose long braided hair facilitates her eventual escape. Steinkamp, who is known for helping bring digital art into the mainstream of contemporary art, uses computer animation software to create immersive installations that fuse beauty and rhythmic movement into hypnotic works of art.