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MOCA doubles your art pleasure with Sturtevant and Joseph exhibits

by John Rabe | Off-Ramp®

A single moment from the video installation by Kahlil Joseph at MOCA on Grand Avenenue. John Rabe

The Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles has opened two new shows designed to make you think twice.

"Double Conscience" is MOCA's presentation of the double-screen video "m.A.A.d." by Kahlil Joseph. The piece juxtaposes images of L.A. — mostly Compton — from today and 1992. The 1992 scenes are mostly Straight Outta Compton, but the new ones are largely commonplace scenes of everyday life: kids at a community pool, the Apaches High School marching band.

Life is generally better in Compton now, compared to 20 years ago. But watching the new scenes knowing the history, you keep waiting for something bad to happen to the kids at the pool. And then you ask yourself why you expect that. It's a powerful experience.

"Sturtevant: Double Trouble," according to MOCA the first comprehensive American survey of her work, is more intellectual. According to Chief Curator Helen Molesworth, starting in the 1960s, Sturtevant did works based on the works of her contemporaries — people like Warhol and Jasper Johns — but Sturtevant refused to use the word "copy."

But if Johns and Warhol made legitimate art by appropriating other images (like the American flag and Marilyn Monroe), then isn't it also legit to appropriate their art? Molesworth says Sturtevant's point, though, is for the viewer to put themselves in the artist's position. What was it like to be Johns or Warhol doing this art?

Make sure to listen to our entire interview, in which Molesworth also talks about MOCA's fresh start after its recent financial and personnel turmoil.

Kahlil Joseph: Double Trouble is at MOCA through August 16;  "Sturtevant: Double Trouble" is up through July 27. They're both at the Grand Avenue location. At MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary, be sure to catch William Pope.L's powerful and controversial "Trinket," up through June 28.

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