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Sanford Biggers Subjective Cosmology

On view September 9, 2016 through January 1, 2017

Sanford Biggers
Sanford Biggers, Shatter, 2015 production still. Courtesy of the artist.

For his solo exhibition Subjective Cosmology, Sanford Biggers will create an immersive interactive experience throughout MOCAD, incorporating video installation, visual art objects, and new media. Imagined as an unseen world made visible, the exhibition gives physical form to hidden landscapes where the past, present, and future synergized into an atemporal experience. Subjective Cosmology can be seen as the link between his three—part film suite Shuffle, Shake, Shatter.

Shuffle, Shake, Shatter is an ambitious three-part film/video suite that explores the formation and dissolution of identity through the journey and actions of an un-named main character. With the completion of his journey, he will have also retraced the North Atlantic Slave Trade route, albeit abstractly, from Europe to the Americas and finally Africa. Throughout his journey he grapples with his identity to the point of crisis, or enlightenment, where he then transcends his notions of male and female, life and death and the corporeal versus the auratic. In Shatter, the protagonist transcends his corporeal existence, shape shifting into an auratic entity.

The installation will provide the backdrop for an exclusive new Moon Medicin performance. Moon Medicin is a multimedia concept band performing original compositions interspersed with re-imagined covers. The collective performs against a backdrop of curated sound effects and images of sci-fi, punk, sacred geometry, coded symbology, film noir, minstrels, world politics, and ceremonial dance. For this iteration of Moon Medicin, Biggers, the creative director, will collaborate with a rotating cast of musicians, designers, and performance artists based in Detroit.

Laocoön, is a rendition of a previously exhibited figurative work. For his exhibition at MOCAD, Biggers created a site specific Laocoön measuring 30 feet in-length, the largest version the artist has created. Occupying over a quarter of the gallery space, the work is named after a famous Roman sculpture, Laocoön and His Sons, depicting a priest struck down by the gods Athena as he warned the Greeks about the Trojan horse. Biggers created the work in reaction to recent events, including the killing of unarmed black civilians by the police and the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Bill Cosby. The piece uses the Fat Albert figure to allude to these victims of police violence while also representing the loss of faith in authority and the father figure. Bill Cosby created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in the 1970's as a vehicle to explore the problems affecting primarily African-American and urban youth, and offer advice on how to avoid the pitfalls specific to their environment. 

Watch Sanford Biggers a TED Talk here.

About Sanford Biggers
Sanford Biggers is a visual artist producing paintings, sculptures, immersive installations and video. Biggers also creates multimedia musical performances with his collective Moon Medicin. He combines each of these media into compelling, sensual and witty works that are platforms from which to discuss challenging and far-ranging topics such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity, pop culture, and American and art history while offering new perspectives and associations for established symbols.

This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and is curated by MOCAD's Executive Director Elysia Borowy-Reeder. Born out of experimentation and a desire to create a new platform for engagement, this project and exhibition is supported by the Joyce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Massimo De Carlo and Monique Meloche. ​

ARTIST TALK: Saturday, September 10 at 1-2pm with Sanford Biggers.

Detroit City/Detroit Affinities: Matthew Angelo Harrison

On view September 9, 2016–January 1, 2017

Matthew Angelo Harrison, The Consequence of Platforms, 2016, Aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, marble, 75 x 33.5 x 33.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Nelson Goodman's theories on human cognition and practice, which touch on everything from logic to epistemology, science to aesthetics, are considered some of the most complex yet coherent ideas in postwar American philosophy. Particularly influential was his book The Structure of Appearance (1951), which offers an intricate analysis of the conditions behind systems of societal and scientific concern and introduces the concept of irrealism: the simultaneous existence of various realities within one another. It asserts that the world is, in itself, no more one way than another, and that neither is humanity.

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Curated by MOCAD's Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at Large Jens Hoffmann

ARTIST TALK: Saturday, October 22, 1pm with Matthew Angelo Harrison.

As part of:

DETROIT CITY is comprised of three concurrent series: Detroit Affinities (exhibition), Detroit Speaks (education), and Detroit Stages (performance). This multi-year research program is one of the most ambitious undertakings to date at MOCAD.

DEPE Space Exhibition
The Spirit of the Animals Is in the Wheels

Dave Eggers

November 4 through January 1, 2017

Photo Credit: McSweeny's

A bison barrels down Mack Ave. and a 12-point buck hoofs it from Eastern Market to the Boggs School. Their unusual gaits—paws attached to a bicycle's front wheel—and their enthusiastic passengers—school-aged Detroiters—are not the only reason these pedicabs-turned-wildlife are turning heads. Artist and author Dave Eggers, along with metal artist Ben Wolf, have built a herd of animal-inspired vehicles for this exhibition focused on the intersection of transportation and education in order to build awareness and solutions to transportation challenges faced by students.

Art as Social Force Exhibition
It's Your Party

On view Friday, September 9 - Sunday, January 1, 2016

Don't Swap Horses in the Middle of the Stream, In your Heart you Know He's Right, and Not Just Peanuts. Are these titles of country songs or campaign slogans? If you guessed campaign slogans you're correct! But who won these elections and who lost? Find out this fall when we celebrate the winners and losers alike with It's Your Party, an exhibition of presidential campaign memorabilia drawn from the vast collection of Morry "The Button Man" Greener. Campaign posters, bumper stickers, pennants, and other ephemera from elections past and present will fill the Mobile Homestead. In the garage we'll be screening election related films and historical debates and broadcasting the live coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. Join us for debate and election night parties where you are welcome to commiserate or celebrate with your friends and neighbors.

Inspired by Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead, MOCAD has embarked on a multi-year examination of artists who seek to create participatory and socially transformative art. Known primarily as social practice, its practitioners freely blur the lines among art making, performance, political activism, community organizing, environmentalism, and investigative journalism, creating a deeply participatory art form.


On view through Sunday, January 1, 2017.

The presentation of Horowitz's work comes in anticipation of the 2016 presidential election, similar to its preliminary reveal in the artist's 2008 solo exhibition at Gavin Brown's enterprise (Obama '08). Inspired by a 1970's Mother's Day figurine, Horowitz crafted his own version as a nod to Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy.

While politically ambiguous, the sculpture pushes viewers to question many of the issues to-day's presidential candidates face; for example, this election's overt sexism. The presence of gender bias in our culture has brought us to a crossroads this election: Hillary Clinton has again become a figure both vilified and championed by the electorate. Where does this leave us?

About Jonathan Horowitz
Since the early 1990s, Jonathan Horowitz has made art that combines the imagery and ambiva-lence of Pop art with the engaged criticality of conceptualism. Often based in both popular commercial and art historical sources, his work in video, sculpture, painting and photography examines the deep-seated links between consumerism and political consciousness, as well as the political silences of postwar art. Recent painting projects have explored the personal psy-chology of mark making, at times, prominently employing the hands of others. Solo exhibitions include Occupy Greenwich (Brant Foundation, 2016); Your Land/My Land: Election '12, pre-sented concurrently at seven museums across the US (from the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles to the New Museum, New York, 2012); Minimalist Works from the Holocaust Museum (Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland, 2010-11); Apocalypto Now (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2009); and the retrospective exhibition, And/Or, (P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2009). Horowitz lives and works in New York.

Gary Simmons, presented by Culture Lab Detroit + MOCAD

1301 Broadway #101 Detroit, Mi 48226
On view September 15 - Sunday, January 1, 2016

Culture Lab Detroit and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) are pleased to present a public work by Gary Simmons. The project was made possible with generous support from Bedrock.

For his first public project in Detroit, Simmons has created an immersive, environmental installation by wallpapering the the space with self-created musical fly posters that reference specific musical styles, as well as their attendant subcultures and sociopolitical connotations. This work indelibly refers to the guerilla technique of wheat-pasting posters to fences, facades, doorways, and other makeshift surfaces, effectively turning an urban landscape into a medium for cultural dissemination. The aesthetic effect is one of urgency and intervention, and as a result, fly-poster graphics have long been integral to a given musical subculture. By replicating this imagery within the confines of the gallery, altering it in color and composition while allowing the main graphic thrust of the imagery to remain, Simmons presents once-slighted or disenfranchised ephemera as vital contributions to culture at large.

Gary Simmons' installation inaugurates Culture Lab 2016, a two-day series of discussions, dinners, and public projects centering around different approach to walls—architectural or ideological boundaries which both define cultural practice and limit understandings of art, architecture, and other cultural undertakings. The conversations will be held September 15 and 16; more information can be found here.

Parking and Directions to MOCAD

Detroit is getting a street car line, the M1 Rail! As such construction has made some areas of Woodward Avenue difficult to travel. For full lane closures and directions, check the M1 Rail's interactive map here.

Our parking lot is located off of Garfield St., and is currently accessible from both John R. and Woodward Ave.

Please call the Museum at 313.832.6622 if you need further assistance.


Exhibition programming support is generously provided by the Taubman Foundation.

Sanford Biggers Subjective Cosmology is supported by the Joyce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Massimo De Carlo and Monique Meloche. ​ ​

MOCAD's operations are supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Masco Corporation Foundation, Erb Family Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Erb Family Foundation approved unrestricted operating support for 38 cultural and arts organizations, including larger organizations that have had historical significance to the family and other organizations that are essential elements of a strong core central City and vibrant neighborhoods.

Funding to support the Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at Large, Jens Hoffmann, is provided by the Susanne Feld Hilberry Endowment for the Arts and Noreen Khalid Ahmad.

DETROIT CITY funding is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Kayne Foundation (Ric & Suzanne Kayne and Jenni, Maggie & Saree).

Detroit Speaks funding is provided by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

MOCAD Capital support is provided by Midtown Detroit, Inc. and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA).

MOCAD's 2016-2021 Strategic Planning Initiative is funded in part by a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation.

MOCAD Youth Programs are graciously funded by the General Motors Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Neiman Marcus, the Applebaum Family Compass Fund, MGM Resorts Foundation, and the Michigan Council for Art and Cultural Affairs.

The EB/SS Junior Docents and other educational programs are supported by the Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation.

The Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead is commissioned by Artangel in association with MOCAD, LUMA Foundation and Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts with the generous support of the Artangel International Circle. Support for Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead is provided by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

MOCAD would like to thank our Leadership Circle (Jennifer and David Fischer, Linda Dresner and Ed Levy, Marsha and Jeffrey Miro, Roz and Scott Jacobson, Danialle and Peter Karmanos, Sonia and Keith Pomeroy, Sandy Seligman and Gil Glassberg, and, Julie Reyes Taubman and Robert Taubman) for making these programs possible: Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead, Lectures, Poetry, Performance Art, Exhibitions, Film, DEPE Space, Music, Family Day, Public Programming, Education, Literature, and Museum Operations.