MOCA Grand Avenue: Sturtevant Exhibit
The MOCA at Grand Avenue has an ongoing retrospective of the works of Elain Sturtevant, simply known as “Sturtevant” to those in the art world. In 1964, Sturtevant began by making her own interpretations of artworks by her contemporaries. She would mimic the techniques, methods to achieve an almost exact replication of original works from artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichenstein. Her appropriation of such works aimed to deconstruct the actual piece and examine it within a new context. She described her process as an effort “to probe the understructure, the silent power of art,” and refused to call her works copies. ” Many of her peers believed her work was refreshing. After all, the saying goes “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
One day, Sturtevant visited Andy Warhol’s loft in search of the Marilyn silkscreen. She spent two hours looking for the screen with no luck. Instead, she went to the source to find the original movie still from Henry Hathaway’s Niagara. She then took the print to Warhol’s silkscreen man to work on it. This highlights the appropriation and how smitten other artists were with Sturtevant’s work. She remarked, “A warhol screen from my photo which was his photo.”
But there was one room that had me utterly puzzled. Once you turn a corner, you come across this:
Yes, the walls are covered in genitalia…
The work was part gallery and part performance art. The go-go dancer definitely shocked some of the younger audience that came with their families. About this exhibition, Sturtevant said “Art’s obsession with body parts indicates the fragmentation of subjectivity. Without an inner core of ‘certainity’ of self, there is identification with mass culture: its reassuring consesnus, used for choices, decisions, judgments and behavioral modes. A thunderous tidal wave to search for identity that has been pushed to the exterior”
Even though the main exhibit was reserved for Sturtevant, there were plenty of original artworks by her peers throughout the other rooms.
Being a huge hip-hop fan, my favorite work was hands down “Double Conscience” by Kahlil Joseph. The double-screen projection piece is a short film with imagery taken from various locations around Los Angeles. The camera glides through predominantly black neighborhoods, giving a glimpse into the everyday lives of the locales. The juxtaposition of such imagery evokes emotions of creativity, joy and sadness. The film’s soundtrack is made up of clips from Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 opus, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.”
Before I even entered the MOCA, I saw this huge work by Nancy Rubins. It was a heap of airplane parts held together by wires in the shape of a bird.
Better yet, there were actual birds roosting in it.
This was my first time at MOCA Grand Avenue, but it definitely will not be my last. I highly recommend going to the museum, especially on Thursdays between 5-8 P.M. Why? BECAUSE IT’S FREE!!! Expand your horizons and find some inspiration!