The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Curator Greg Tom standing amidst "HOME SWEET HOME" by Jason J. Ferguson.
On Saturday, June 29th, I attended a guided tour of the current exhibit at MOCAD (a Knight Arts grantee), a three-man show called (IN)HABITATION, to take another pass at this intriguing collection of work. The tour was facilitated by the show’s curator, Greg Tom, and the discussion of the work which followed included all three of the show’s contributing artists: Jason J. Ferguson, Matt Kenyon and Osman Khan. Topics ranged from DIY-culture, the myth of Home Depot, knowing too much about The Wizard of Oz, and the ways that the work specifically spoke to the experience of Detroiters.
Tom expounding on themes in the living room from Ferguson's "Domestic Carnival" installation.
As I mentioned during the highly inclusive Q&A which followed, it struck me that this show, which centers upon the theme of domestic space of house and home—a space traditionally considered to be the realm of the female—featured work entirely made and curated by men. Tom assured me that this consideration was not lost on anyone during the process of installation, but I believe it is quite revelatory to note that this male-domestic space communicates extreme destruction and entropic decay, which progresses throughout the exhibition.
Kahn's "Come Hell Or High Water" looking rather worse for the wear after several weeks of water damage.
Indeed, Tom notes that this show is a strong embodiment of the “kinetic art” movement, which seeks not just to capture a single moment in art, but to create art that encompasses a progression. The works do indeed progress and evolve beyond their initial impressions, from Khan’s “Come Hell or High Water,” which has suffered from the repetitious water damage cycle to the point of needing to be partially drained for the sake of olfactory relief, to Ferguson’s carnival light-chaser patterns, which are apt and intended to drive viewers slowly into a state of discomfort, to Kenyon’s slow-dawning revelation of words that appear as if by magic in an oil stain on the floor.
Kenyon at work with a repeat performance of his piece, "Cloud," which produces house-shaped bubbles based on housing bubble data.
"Puddle" by Matt Kenyon features the names of various SUVs appearing and disappearing from an oil slick installed in the gallery floor, intensely site-appropriate considering the MOCAD's previous life as an auto dealership.
From left to right, MOCAD Coordinator of Public Events Greg Baise, curator Greg Tom, and artists Jason J. Ferguson, Osman Kahn and Matt Kenyon.
Kresge grant recipient Corrie Baldauf was on hand for the Q&A, and keenly observed a confluence of factors in the work, struggling between the control of trauma, the reflection of society, and the seduction of the viewer. Altogether, a dramatic and cutting-edge collection, worthy of review and greatly benefited by deeper insight into the process and inspiration of all participants. The show will be up through July 28th.
MOCAD: 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; www.mocadetroit.org