MMoCA Launches Imprint Gallery Focused on Multimedia Art

Inaugural Exhibition: Kim Schoen: Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong?

September 19 – May 10, 2015


MMoCA Nights Opening Reception· Friday, September 18 from 6–9pm

MADISON, WI — MMoCA is excited to announce the official launching of the Imprint Gallery, a space dedicated to presenting multimedia artwork. The museum invites visitors to experience this uniquely immersive space and explore the conceptual and aesthetic possibilities of dynamic, technology-based artwork. With up-to-date equipment and a refreshed appearance, the Imprint Gallery commences its curatorial programming with an installation showcasing the work of L.A.-based artist Kim Schoen. Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong? Schoen’s first solo museum exhibition, will be on view to the public starting September 19, with an opening reception and artist-led roundtable discussion on Friday evening, September 18.

The Imprint Gallery presents exhibitions exploring both established and emerging trends within the domain of multimedia art-making. An intimate and enveloping space, it offers a quiet, experiential environment to absorb multi-sensory works by contemporary artists who use less traditional artistic mediums, including moving image, experimental sound and light, and digital technologies. With the launching of the Imprint Gallery, MMoCA will be one of the few places in the region with a dedicated gallery focused on tracking and exhibiting this type of artwork. MMoCA will also organize a series of onsite talks by a selection of the Imprint Gallery’s featured artists.

“As a contemporary art museum, it is essential that we continue to show work by artists in the media of our time and to provide our community access to compelling artwork that reflects their lives and experiences,” stated Stephen Fleischman, MMoCA director.

In the global and technological context of the twenty-first century, the prominence of moving images within contemporary life has opened up new opportunities for artists to create critically-engaged work that challenges the form and content of media and technology production. In recognizing the forms of artistic practice rising concurrently with emerging technologies, MMoCA is committed to examining the ways artists use moving images, data, and sound to explore our contemporary age.

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Kim Schoen, an interdisciplinary artist and writer, works with performative and experimental texts, photographs, and video installations. Her videos deconstruct the commercial landscape, exposing its mechanics, rhetoric, and established modes of persuasion—transforming attention-getting strategies into
anti-climactic yet poetic observations.

The centerpiece of her exhibition at MMoCA, a 22-minute looping video also titled Have You Never Let Somebody Else Be Strong? focuses on the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Featuring a rotating program of choreographed water performances, the ostentatious display is set within an 8.5 acre man-made lake and is controlled by a complex network of pipes and nozzles propelling streams of water up to 460 feet into the air. Pulsing, twisting, and shimmying to the accompanying musical score and light show, the surging water is a highly visible tourist attraction along the Vegas Strip, a high-tech
addition to the opulent spectacle of the luxury resort to which it is attached.

Rather than capturing the full panorama of the Bellagio fountains, Schoen focuses her lens on a small segment of the expansive water feature. Her intentionally limited composition frames a handful of nozzles sitting right below of the surface of the artificial lake. Materializing from the pool-like waters, the mechanized jets emit in a series of patterned bursts before re-submerging beneath the surface. Powerful eruptions alternate with comparatively enfeebled spurts. When viewing Schoen’s tightly cropped imagery of the fountain’s punctuated choreography, phallic associations and references to bodily emissions are impossible to ignore: the water jets become props, stand-ins for the human body in all of its majesty, comedy, and fallibility.

Schoen pairs her imagery with songs that accompany the Bellagio’s rotating water shows, but filters the music through an automated vocalization software program. A mechanical voice monotonously renders the songs into a soundtrack that is anything but lyrical; without melody, the words in the songs reveal their own flat rhetoric. This manipulation of sound, when coupled with the artist’s carefully composed imagery and selective editing, transforms this aggressive monument to extravagance in ‘experience’ entertainment into a more vulnerable site where choices are exposed and laid bare.

The tight framing in the video also allows for the artificial pool to reveal its micro-climates and variations; there are moments that become oceanic tempests, storms that clear into refracted mists in seconds. The unexpected intrusion of natural phenomena into this hyper-artificial space echoes Schoen’s other video in this exhibition: The Second Oldest Amusement, filmed in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. In this short observational piece, the fountains are under construction in a winter landscape, and the grounds’ peacock unexpectedly ambles in to make an appearance, and perform his own display.

Schoen received her M.F.A. in photography from CalArts (2005) and her Masters in Philosophy from the photography department at The Royal College of Art, London (2008). Her work has most recently been included in exhibitions at MOTInternational Projects, London; South London Gallery, London; and Norma Mangione Gallery, Turin. Her work has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, and her most recent essay “The “Expansion of the Instant: Photography, Anxiety, Infinity” was published in X-TRA, Quarterly for Contemporary Art (Summer 2014) Schoen is the co-founder and editor of MATERIAL, a journal of texts by visual artists.

Generous support of the Imprint Gallery and Kim Schoen: Have You Never Let Someone Else Be Strong? has been provided by Nancy Gross, Raven Software, and Hiebing.


Alternative Channels: New Media Art

Friday, September 18, 6:30-7:30 pm • Lecture hall

Dedicated to showcasing multimedia art, MMoCA’s Imprint Gallery opens
with an exhibition of Kim Schoen’s video works, Have You Never Let
Someone Else Be Strong? (2013) and The Second Oldest Amusement (2011).
Michael Jay McClure will provide a brief overview of this genre and
lead a conversation between Schoen and Cecelia Condit, whose
compelling three-channel video installation, Within a Stone’s Throw,
was featured in the museum’s State Street Gallery in 2012, along with
her large-scale, digitally manipulated photographs.

Michael Jay McClure is associate professor of art history at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches the theory and
history of modern and contemporary art, including new media. Kim
Schoen’s experimental texts, photographs, and video installations
explore aspects of consumer culture and the malleability of speech,
among other subjects. Cecelia Condit’s work addresses the fears and
displacement that exist between the self and society, and the self and
the natural world. Condit is a professor in the Department of Film,
Video, Animation, and New Genres at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. $10 MMoCA Nights admission/ Free for members.