The Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibit of large installations was, in a word, weird, but nevertheless completely unique. It was also incredibly eye opening and creatively free in that it seemed as if the artists whose works were exhibited could express themselves in any way and through any media. The large chandelier hanging overhead molded from white wax looked as though it should be at Cruella de Vil’s wedding. A work entitled “Burn Calories, Not Octane” was a bike topped with TVs. I was on the set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was little and the museum and its artwork were bigger, louder, and more colorful than anything I’ve seen in awhile. But there were no streams of chocolate.
I walked into a room full of sound and sight. An image of a fuzzy creature, a cat, which played across a screen the expanse of a wall, juxtaposed the audio voice of a man’s commentary on murder.
“I don’t remember feeling anything…until his body went limp. The power to kill is just as powerful as that to create…to feel alive, wonderfully alive,” the man’s voice said. It played over and over again.
My favorite piece had a room of its own. Projected onto the wall was a stream of color, mostly pinks and yellows. Because my shadow was projected into the work itself, I became both viewer and subject. The work was complimented by a soundtrack of electronically generated wordless music. This work, by artist Jennifer Steinkamp, was entitled “Smokescreen,” and, like most of the works here, differed from the traditional. Most people think of art as paintings on a wall, which is true, but Steinkamp’s work appeals to the human being’s several senses, including sight and sound. Most of these works are interactive, the new trend of our generation, in that the works tend to reach out to the viewer and utilize several of the viewer’s senses.
Art is a powerful way of expressing oneself and producing social awareness. The bike topped with TVs work that I mentioned earlier is an example – the artist comments on the downfalls of technological development, that the natural resources of the environment are used up (just in case you hadn’t been following any Greenpeace movements or if you’ve been living under a rock), by positioning a robotic figure made out of a gas tank on the bike. Its implication – that the viewer should get moving on their bike and stop depleting the environment’s precious natural resources with their exhaust.
The artists who have their work displayed here show that art is not confined to the wall, but includes multiple elements, including sound, everyday objects, such as the wetsuits which were used by Dennis Oppenheim in his exhibit, entitled “Gut-Birthdays,” and can be painted, sculpted or projected onto a wall.
Located in North Miami, a mere 30 minutes drive away from our dear University that we sometimes never leave during the expanse of a week, the museum was incredibly easy to get to, meaning that even a directionally challenged driver like myself could find it without a single U-turn. This particular exhibit has been running since Sept. 17 and will continue until Oct. 31 (yes, Halloween day). The art displayed at the MOCA museum is art produced in the 1990s and by our contemporaries. See what our generation is creating and reacting to. Get there and hop in for coffee at the local joint across the street to revel in your newfound artsy-ness.
Melanie Klesse can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.