Press Release


MOCAD’s Summer Season opens with Meleko Mokgosi’s first exhibition in Detroit.
MAY 3, 2024


Image credit: Meleko Mokgosi, Spaces of Subjection: Black Painting V, 2022.

(Detroit, Michigan –May 3, 2024) – Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) proudly presents Meleko Mokgosi’s first Detroit museum presentation, Zones of Non-Being, on view from June 28 to October 4, 2024. 

Zones of Non-Being features recent oil paintings, etchings and new works on paper from Mokgosi’s recent residency at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Visually applying philosophy and critical theory, Mokgosi’s work brings together fragments of familiar imagery and texts from across African and Diasporic history and culture to create compositions that play with our expectations. Through this methodology, Mokgosi provokes viewers into questioning established narratives and colonial systems of categorization and control. 

Anchoring the exhibition is a group of fifteen large-scale works-on-canvas titled Spaces of Subjections: Zones of Non-Being. Mokgosi uses illustrations from Sara Cone Bryant’s Epaminondas and His Auntie, a children’s picture book from 1911 that relies heavily on racist tropes and stereotyping. He recontextualizes the illustrations by including writings of James Baldwin, Toni Morrison and other Black scholars onto the paintings. These works are part of Mokgosi’s artistic approach to interrupting known tropes that contribute to the construction of Black Identity, and how that imagery shapes Black self-identity and its perception by others.

“Mokgosi’s thought-provoking work challenges viewers to confront themes of colonialism, liberation, and identity, resonating deeply in a city that itself has been a battleground for racial equality and economic revival.” Says MOCAD Artistic Director Jova Lynne. “This exhibition highlights MOCADs mission of being a place where knowledge exchange and conversation around challenging cultural paradigms can thrive”. 

By urging viewers to embrace a sense of mistrust and displacement, works presented in Zones of Non-Being challenge the basic assumptions through which we perceive ourselves, each other, and the world around us. 

Join us on Friday, June 28, to celebrate our Summer 2024 Exhibitions. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. with an artist talk at 6:30pm for a conversation between Meleko Mokgosi and Michael Stone Richards.

MELEKO MOKGOSI (born in Francistown, Botswana; lives and works in Wellesley, MA) is an artist, Associate Professor and co-director of graduate studies at the Yale School of Art, and the co-director of the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program. Mokgosi received his BA from Williams College in 2007 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study program that same year. He then received his MFA from the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, and was an Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2011-2012. 

Mokgosi’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including the Botswana National Gallery, Gaborone, Botswana; The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art Museum, Peekskill, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center, Los Angeles, CA; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; and the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art, France. His work is included in public collections such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; and the Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, ME. His most recent solo exhibition at Jack Shainman Gallery is Democratic Intuition at The School and Pan-African Pulp (2019). 


The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) presents exhibitions and programs that explore the best of contemporary art, connecting Detroit and the global art world. MOCAD focuses on art as a means to nurture social change and human understanding, reflecting our community. We encourage innovative experimentation by artists, musicians, makers, cultural producers, and scholars to enrich all who participate and to educate visitors of all ages in the power of art. Whether from Detroit or worldwide, we welcome creative voices who can guide us to an equitable and inclusive future. We believe that art can change us, and it’s our responsibility to hold a space where challenge, acceptance, hope, and beauty can coincide.

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