Detroit is Here: MOCAD celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

(Gonzalez-Torres) barely there, Installation Shot, Photo by Corine Vermeulen.

Categorically, the once-isolated artworld has extended not only beyond global boundaries but also over less-defined national lines, as the terms “New York art” and “American” art become coterminous; we view the idea of an “art center of the world” as a reference to a past and implausible ideology. Although—even recently—cities have been categorized by specific niches, these cities now house institutions that accrue influential acquisitions and continue to debunk a centralized art metropolis.

(Prieto) barely there, Installation Shot, Photo by Corine Vermeulen.

At the forefront of arts education, Detroit, MI, offered the first the first Arts and Crafts organizations in America with an educational program in 1926. Since 1927, Detroit Institute of Arts has housed a co-equal collection and is considered the second largest municipally-owned museum. Subsequently the 1932 construction of Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, began to draw profound faculty members and graduate students to Michigan; ten years later, Eliel Saarinen designed the Cranbrook Art Museum, where contemporary art would be collected and on view. However quickly Detroit’s contribution had grown, the city’s construction of major art institutions declined. (A native of Metro Detroit, I witnessed artists who emigrated from Detroit after success.)

(Camnitzer) barely there, Installation Shot, Photo by Corine Vermeulen.

During the past decade, national institutions have gained public recognition, yet none generates equal energy to Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). As a non-collecting museum, MOCAD aims to capture contemporary cultural content. The museum’s directors have expressed that the current state of Detroit provides the museum with platform to confront local and general issues, congruently. MOCAD instills Detroit’s history as a motif to propound questions about a “new city” to the viewer. Many of MOCAD’s shows juxtapose people with artistic process in an attempt to prompt people to approach the revitalization of cities through creative means.

Stéphanie Nava, Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory), 2005-2011, France. © Stéphanie Nava

On October 14th, 2011, MOCAD celebrated its fifth anniversary on October 14th, 2011, with a reception featuring silent auction, live performance (by Prussia and Ze Dark Park), and access to two running exhibitions: barely there; Stéphanie Nava: Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory). Part two of the two-part group exhibition, barely there displays artworks from the late 1920’s to the present, emphasizing ephemeral connections rather than totality of moments. Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) is French artist Stéphanie Nava’s first solo-exhibition in the United States. The installation “is a work in progress, developed during the artist’s 2005 residency at the Cultures France Villa Médicis Hors les murs program in London.”

MOCAD quotes the artist to describe the project:

In the artist’s own words: “The supposed innocence of gardens doesn’t interest me. As I see it, the garden cannot but be affected by the functioning of a world in which, as in the 17th century in Holland, tulip bulbs can trigger a nationwide financial crisis. I started the project in London and British history is full of convergences between economics, industry and the garden…Throughout the project I fed off the lexical telescoping that characterizes garden-speak. One constant is the politico-bellicose vocabulary: plants migrate, invade and naturalize to such an extent that human systems for handling migration flows are applied to them…The garden is written; it is a designed space and has throughout history been used as a tool for propaganda and control.”

Stéphanie Nava, Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory), 2009, Brest, France. Exhibition view at the Centre d’Art Passerelle, Brest. © Stéphanie Nava.

Below, please read more information on the two exhibition, provided by MOCAD.

barely there, Installation Shot, Photo by Corine Vermeulen.

Support for barely there (part two) is generously provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
barely there, an exhibition in two parts, is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and curated by Luis Croquer, Director and Chief Curator.
September 16th until December 30th, 2011.
Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Antwerpen, Belgium); Marcel Broodthaers (b. 1924, Brussels, Belgium; d. 1976, Cologne, Germany); Luis Camnitzer (b. 1937, Germany); Frank Capra (b. 1897, Sicily, Italy; d. 1991, California); Hans-Peter Feldmann (b. 1941, Hilden, Germany); Félix Gonzalez-Torres (b. 1957, Guaimaro, Cuba; d. 1996, Miami, Florida); Kimsooja (b. 1957, Taegu, Korea); Mark Lombardi (b. 1951, Manlius, New York, d. 2000, Brooklyn, New York); Christian Marclay (b. 1955, California); Max Ophüls (b. 1902, Saarbrücken, Germany; d. 1957, Hamburg, Germany); Wilfredo Prieto (b. 1978, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba); Yvonne Rainer (b. 1934, San Francisco); Paul Ramirez Jonas (b. 1965, Pomona, CA); Ranjani Shettar (b. 1977, Bangalore, India); Nicolás García Uriburu (b. 1937, Buenos Aires, Argentina); Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939, Fulda, Germany); Francesca Woodman (b. 1958, Colorado; d. 1981, New York)

Stéphanie Nava, Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory), 2005-2011, France. © Stéphanie Nava

Major support for Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) is provided by The Graham Foundation For Advanced Studies In The Fine Arts, the Maison Française, The Cultural Services of The French Embassy and the Institut Français. Additional support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The exhibition is curated by Luis Croquer, Director + Chief Curator and organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
September 16th until December 30th, 2011.
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About Megan M. Garwood

Megan M. Garwood is a New York City-based editor, art critic, commentator and aesthetician, as well as the Associate Director at Leslie Feely Gallery on 68th and Madison. Her guilty pleasures include metaethics, morality, conceptual art, and Coney Island side shows. Feel free to contact her via email at
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