Thousands of flowers, visceral photographic images, a thick carpet of oak leaves, saturated color, and layers of vibrant sound are among the materials that figure prominently in this exhibition of exceptional works by six artists from around the world.
Thousands of flowers, visceral photographic images, a thick carpet of oak leaves, saturated color, and layers of vibrant sound are among the materials that figure prominently in this exhibition of exceptional works by six artists from around the world. Primarily installation-based, and distinguished by a rich "materiality," the art in this exhibition bears witness to a range of fundamental human concerns. Life and death, the impact of the past on the present, violence, economic injustice, and the struggle for political and spiritual freedom are underlying themes.
Installations of works on paper, video, photography and sculpture ranging in scale from the intimate to the monumental are included in this poetic and evocative exhibition organized by MOCA Cleveland Senior Curator Margo A. Crutchfield. At times stark, and sometimes searing, the works in Material Witness evince a multitude of thoughts, feelings and ideas that reflect upon the richness and depth of the human experience.
Material Witness features works by six artists: Laylah Ali, Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Johnny Coleman, Douglas Gordon, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba and Santiago Sierra.
A new site-specific work (2004) titled Station to Station comprising an installation based on the concept of flight and refuge, made with a variety of found and fabricated materials - including aged wood, artifacts, dried foods, herbs, soil, clay, light and sound.
Maria Fernanda Cardoso
Cemetery-Vertical Garden (1992-2004), a monumental wall sculpture (measuring 12 feet high by 43 feet long) made with thousands of artificial lilies. Speaking eloquently to life and death, each flower in this monumental work symbolizes the murdered victims of political violence in Cardoso's native Columbia.
Croque Morts (2000), an installation featuring a suite of seven large-format photographs portraying the process of an infant becoming aware of itself at that moment when humans first discover their own physicality. The infant, portrayed in extreme close-up, bites her toes, a reference to the Medieval practice of biting the toes of the fallen on battlefields to determine whether soldiers were dead or alive. These visceral images reference an infant's discovery of the body or essential 'materiality' of human life - while simultaneously referencing our own mortality.
A performance-based video installation Contraction Y Ordenacion de 30 Trabajadores Conforme A Su Color De Piel (Hiring and arrangement of 30 workers in relation to their skin color). Sierra's work critiques capitalist economies by examining economic power and its impact along class and ethnic fault lines. Exploitation of labor is a central issue in his work.
A film installation: Memorial Project, Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex--For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards (2001). Nguyen-Hatsushiba's lyrical and spellbinding films explore Vietnamese history and identity. This film records an elaborate underwater dance by cyclo drivers, a threatened community within Vietnamese culture, referencing the many struggles Vietnamese people endured due to the aftermath of the Vietnam war and rapid changes in their social and political landscape.
Laylah Ali Untitled, 2000 [at left]. Gouache on paper 19 x 14 inches (48.2 x 35.5 cm)
Collection of Joel and Nancy Portnoy.
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