(New York, USA)
The works recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) make up the exhibition “Unfinished Conversations: New Work from the Collection”, on view since March 19th. Bringing together works by fifteen artists – amongst them, Jonathas de Andrade, PIPA Prize Finalist in 2011, whose short film “The Uprising (O Levante)” (2013) is being screened – the exhibition addresses themes of social protest, the effect of history on the formation of identity, and how art juxtaposes fact and fiction.
Titled after John Akomfrah’s three-channel video installation “The Unfinished Conversation” (2012), which is included in the show and chronicles the life and work of cultural theorist Stuart Hall, many of the show’s interrogations are linked to the work of this Jamaican-born scholar. “This exhibition explores how Hall’s understanding of history as both multifaceted and in need of interrogation is reflected in artworks from MoMA’s collection, and how these recently made works offer insights into our historical present,” writes one of the exhibition’s curators, Thomas J. Lax, in an essay published on MoMA’s Medium.
Asides from the John Akomfrah’s piece, a range of international artists working across diverse media also participate in the show. From Cairo to St. Petersburg, from The Hague to Recife, some of these artists observe and interpret acts of state violence and activism. Others enter historical moments, reimagining images of the past and claiming their place within it. Still others take on contemporary debates, showcasing evidence of government surveillance and censorship or displaying products of exploited labor in their work. Together, these artists look back to traditions both within and beyond the visual arts to imagine possibilities for an uncertain future.
“We’re in a moment when it is increasingly important for institutions—in this case a museum—to illuminate how art and artists live and participate in the world around them,” says Klaus Biesenbach, another of the show’s curators. “This exhibition offers a series of positions from the curators’ points of view. It is our hope that this gives viewers an opportunity to enter into the dialogue, and to construct their own meaning based on their life experiences and what they see. The conversation can’t be finished without our public.”
“Unfinished Conversations: New Work from the Collection”, featuring John Akomfrah, Jonathas de Andrade, Anna Boghiguian, Andrea Bowers, Paul Chan, Simon Denny, Samuel Fosso, Iman Issa, Kim Beom, Erik van Lieshout, Cameron Rowland, Wolfgang Tillmans, Adrián Villar Rojas, Kara Walker and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Lucy Gallun, Thomas J. Lax, Christian Rattemeyer, and Yasmil Raymond along Elizabeth Henderson
On view from March 19th to July 30th, 2017