Miami, FL, Sept. 21, 2020—Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) presents The Body Electric, a major exhibition that looks at our fraught relationship to technology, particularly the increasingly inescapable interface between our bodies and screens. The remarkably varied art in the exhibition examines the last 50 years of artists addressing the way technological mediation has come to dominate our interactions with the world, with each other, and with ourselves. The Body Electric will be on view from Nov. 5, 2020, through May 30, 2021.
In an age dominated by digital technology, The Body Electric explores themes of the real and the virtual, the organic and the artificial, moving from the world into the screen and back again. Looking across the past 50 years, the exhibition presents an intergenerational and international group of 55 artists and collectives that have seized upon the screen as a place to rethink the body and identity, with a particular emphasis on questions of gender, sexuality, class, and race. The exhibition contextualizes contemporary artists who today engage with digital technology and the influence of the Internet within a broader art historical narrative to reveal shared interests that emerge across generations, despite differing technological means.
Video cameras record private moments and public spectacles, photographs capture alternate personas, and digital avatars simulate human behavior. Together, they reveal ways that technology changes our collective understanding of the body, everyday life, and sense of self. Works in the exhibition—from the inviting and familiar to the provocative and unsettling—question ways that photographic, televisual, and digital media affect our perceptions of the human body and ordinary experience.
The exhibition begins with a pioneering generation of artists active in the mid-1960s—Jaime Davidovich, Shigeko Kubota, Marta Minujín, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, and Wolf Vostell—for whom the television was both the subject and object of their expanded practices that spanned performance, sculpture, and the moving image. Footage of performances by the Wooster Group offers a frenetic meditation on the all-pervasive presence of technology, and the fusion of body and screen.
Works by Sanja Iveković, Anna Maria Maiolino, Ana Mendieta, Claudio Perna, Howardena Pindell, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Cindy Sherman chart a history of artists turning the lens of the camera onto their own bodies, creating personal spaces of performance, whether via the 1960s Portapak camera or today’s selfie. Disembodied beings and digital avatars populate contributions by Laurie Anderson, Ed Atkins, Pierre Huyghe, and Sidsel Meineche Hansen, while sculptures by Robert Gober and Anicka Yi, as well as an immersive installation by Trisha Baga, explore the slippery ambiguity of materials poised between the digital and analog, the real and rendered.
For Gretchen Bender, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sondra Perry, and Martine Syms, the lens of the camera creates a space to rethink the representation of sociopolitical identities and to question the structures that govern our understanding of race and gender. Works by Jes Fan, Josh Kline, Carolyn Lazard, Candice Lin & Patrick Staff, and Marianna Simnett reflect on the malleability of the body, speaking to themes of care, surgical intervention, and chemical and biological processes imperceptible to the human eye. And Zach Blas’s artificially intelligent Icosahedron (2019) takes the form of a crystal ball.
“The works in The Body Electric investigate the issues raised by our growing dependence on electronic interfaces to learn about the world, to communicate with each other, and even to understand our own identities,” said Rina Carvajal, MOAD’s Executive Director and Chief Curator. “For more than five decades, as our reliance on technology has increased, the artists in this fascinating exhibition have delved into the many ways that screens have come to shape our reality.”
Full list of artists in the exhibition: Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Ed Atkins, Trisha Baga, Ivana Bašić, Gretchen Bender, Zach Blas, Nancy Burson, James Byrne, Peter Campus, Petra Cortright, Andrea Crespo, Jaime Davidovich, Otavio Donasci, Juan Downey, Zackary Drucker, Rhys Ernst, VALIE EXPORT, Jes Fan, Simone Forti, Robert Gober, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Tishan Hsu, Pierre Huyghe, Juliana Huxtable, Sanja Iveković, Josh Kline, Shigeko Kubota, Carolyn Lazard, Candice Lin & Patrick Staff, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Anna Maria Maiolino, Helen Marten, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Marta Minujín, Charlotte Moorman, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Letícia Parente, Claudio Perna, Sondra Perry, Howardena Pindell, Ulrike Rosenbach, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Marianna Simnett, Stelarc, Hito Steyerl, Martine Syms, Ryan Trecartin, Wolf Vostell, the Wooster Group, and Anicka Yi.
The Body Electric is organized by the Walker Art Center. The exhibition is made possible by generous support from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation. Additional support provided by Ellen and Jan Breyer and the David and Leni Moore Family Foundation. The Body Electric is curated by Pavel Pyś, Curator, Visual Arts, Walker Art Center, with Jadine Collingwood, Curatorial Fellow. The presentation at MOAD is organized by Rina Carvajal, Executive Director and Chief Curator, with Isabela Villanueva, Consulting Assistant Curator, and is made possible by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Additional support was received from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Immersive Technologies in the Arts initiative.
Located in MDC’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, MOAD at MDC offers groundbreaking exhibitions and programs that aim to foster a reimagined Miami. Exploring the challenges and opportunities we face locally and globally, MOAD convenes artists, designers, and thinkers to address the urgent questions of our time. As the College’s flagship museum, MOAD strives to be a catalyst for action and a place that empowers people to remake their city. MOAD follows the College’s lead in operating across Miami with its Museum Without Boundaries initiative, which takes place in city neighborhoods and invites everyone to be a part of the conversation.
WHAT: The Body Electric
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, through Sunday, May 30, 2021
WHERE: Museum of Art and Design at MDC
600 Biscayne Boulevard, Second Floor
Hours: Wednesday: 1–6 p.m.; Thursday: 1–8 p.m.; Friday–Sunday: 1–6 p.m.
Museum admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students (13–17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under.
Accessibility challenges: please call 305-237-7710 for details.
The Museum is currently closed. We are scheduled to reopen on November 5. As part of Miami Dade College, MOAD and MDC Special Collections will continue to closely monitor COVID-19. MDC is coordinating efforts with the appropriate state and local authorities. We recommend that you visit MDC’s information and resource page and check back frequently.
For updates and a full schedule of events, please visit http://www.mdcmoad.org/.