Summer exhibitions and events at MMoCA, featuring Kambui Olujimi, Taking Sides, Digital Aura, Rashaad Newsome, Meg Mitchell, Sonja Thomsen, and Rooftop Cinema.
EXHIBITIONS Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time May 6–August 13 MMoCA is pleased to present Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time, a solo exhibition of new work by the Brooklyn-based artist. In Zulu Time, Olujimi explores, among other concerns, the interlocking systems of power embedded in America’s social, economic, and political landscapes. He presents a body of work that plays with notions of visibility, gesturing towards the systems, histories, and infrastructures whose authority relies on the very absence of detectability. Olujimi asks us to look behind, around, under, and through his objects and images—to consider what might be absent or obscured as much as what is present and tangible. Time itself manifests as the most invisible yet pervasive force in this exhibition, as implied by the show’s title. Zulu Time is the shorthand term for the world’s standardized mode of tracking time. Specifically, it references coordinated universal time, or the time at the prime meridian (longitude 0 degrees)—the invisible and ultimately arbitrary line from which all global time zones are calculated. Since Great Britain was the world’s foremost maritime power when the concept of latitude and longitude originated, the starting point for designating longitude is based on the location of the British Naval Observatory in Greenwich, England. Thus, Zulu Time literally revolves around Western norms for structuring a day. This notion of universal time as an intangible yet ever-present expression of dominance and an imposition of control—a residue of Empire—serves as Olujimi’s jumping off point for creating two- and three-dimensional works that explore entrenched hierarchies, while questioning assumptions underlying our understanding of the world at large. Olujimi again references the legacies of Western colonialism in T-Minus Ø, an installation of thirteen flags, each of which displays violent explosions of failed rocket launches. This dignified arrangement of flags vibrates with nationalist intention. In the United States, we make public affirmations of loyalty to our flag, which we see as a symbol of our country, our history, and our pride in both. But if a flag represents such an idea, or even an ideal, what exactly are we are being asked to salute? Olujimi’s flags, with their grand imagery of collapse, point to the failures in our nationalist agenda, both past and present, visible and invisible. With T-Minus Ø, Olujimi suggests that we are out of time. Now we must face those failures, acknowledge the subtleties of institutionalized biases, and make visible what has been strategically hidden. Olujimi will discuss his work on Friday, June 2 at 6:30 pm, at the MMoCA Opening for Zulu Time. An accompanying exhibition catalogue, available for purchase in the Museum Store, will include essays by Sampada Aranke, Gregory Volk, and Leah Kolb. Kambui Olujimi received his BFA from Parsons School of Design, and his MFA from Columbia University. He has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, and was a recent recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (2017). Generous funding, to date, for Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time has been provided by The DeAtley Family Foundation; MillerCoors; The Terry Family Foundation; WhiteFish Partners LLC; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers. 2 MMOCA OPENING • FRIDAY, JUNE 2 • 6 –9 PM
Taking Sides: Social Critique in Modern and Contemporary Art June 10–October 15 EXHIBITIONS T aking Sides: Social Critique in Modern and Contemporary Art explores the tradition of social and political commentary in modern and contemporary art. Drawn from MMoCA’s permanent collection, the exhibition title is taken from a quote by Salman Rushdie, the renowned British Indian novelist and essayist. It speaks of the artist’s moral obligation to stand up against social injustice. Taking Sides picks up this tradition of social protest in the early twentieth century when it enters the mainstream of modern art. The exhibition, which encompasses nearly one hundred works of art in all media, focuses on an assortment of themes critical to the notion of art as a platform for political dissent. Evils of the totalitarian state, abuses of military power, social violence, group demonstrations, threats to the environment, class and racial inequity, ethnic and gender identity, and compassion for the vulnerable are among the many threads the exhibition singles out. Taking Sides includes, for example, Andy Warhol’s charge of intolerable racial prejudice and hate in his Birmingham Race Riot screenprint (1963); Ed Paschke’s lithograph Kontato (1984), a menacing portrait of a banana republic dictator; and Joan Snyder’s lament for the stigmatized victims of the AIDS epidemic in Requiem/Let Them Rest, a multimedia print (1997). The majority of works in the exhibition date from the 1960s to the present. During this time, active lobbying for humanitarian changes in public policy and unresolved grievances of minorities have played a major role in quickening the production of a resistance art that begs for social reform. The biblical injunction in the Book of Leviticus that “thou shall not stand idly by” in the face of social injustice is as urgent a mandate today as it was 2,500 years ago. Generous funding, to date, for Taking Sides has been provided by The DeAtley Family Foundation; Dan and Natalie Erdman; Susan Lloyd; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers. COVER: Kambui Olujimi, Untitled (detail), from the series T-Minus Ø, 2017. Digital print on cotton, aluminum pole, zinc pole mount. Flag: 24 x 36 inches; pole: 72 inches. Courtesy the artist. OPPOSITE: Kambui Olujimi, Untitled (detail), from the series T-Minus Ø, 2017. Digital print on cotton, aluminum pole, zinc pole mount. Flag: 24 x 36 inches; pole: 72 inches. Courtesy the artist. THIS PAGE, TOP: Warrington Colescott, The Hunt: First Dawn Stake Out, 1981. Etching and aquatint, 22 ¼ x 30 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Museum Purchase Fund and by exchange. THIS PAGE, BOTTOM: Ed Paschke, Kontato, 1984. Lithograph, 34 ¼ x 24 1/8 inches. Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Anonymous gift. ©The Ed Paschke Foundation. 3