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Exhibition Season Preview 2017-18

We are excited to announce the bold, new voices and viewpoints the CAC will be bringing to Cincinnati with our 2017-18 Exhibition Season. Experience the world-class installations of street artist Swoon, the enigmatic spectacle of Japanese-American artist Glenn Kaino and the identity tug-of-war presented by Caribbean-born, Brooklyn-based Firelei Baez.


September 22, 2017 – February 25, 2018
Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

The CAC is organizing the first major survey of era-defining artist Caledonia Curry – better known as Swoon. Swoon is a pioneering social champion in a field traditionally dominated by men, machismo and activities deemed illegal; she has overcome every barrier to re-define what “street art” means today. This exhibition showcases multiple dimensions of Curry’s multi-faceted practice, including a new site-specific installation, re-stagings of past landmark projects and a survey of her socially-driven work in countries like Haiti and Kenya.

By humble means of drawing, printmaking, wheatpaste and cut paper, Curry has given life to a burgeoning family of faces and figures who take on extraordinary presence when placed in public space. To bring people closer, she explains, “I make [the figures] human-scale and close to the ground, so you have a one-on-one experience. I call them vessels of empathy. ” Curry congregates equally colorful communities of real life characters when collectively building music houses in New Orleans, earthbag community centers in Haiti, and rafts out of NYC garbage that become surreal vessels floating down the Grand Canal in Venice.

To expand the impact of Swoon’s time in Cincinnati, the CAC initiated her participation in the Cincinnati Ballet’s 2017 New Works performance which will take place April 20-30. In collaboration with renowned choreographer Jennifer Archibald, Curry will design a newly created stage set that will subsequently become part of the CAC exhibition.

Caledonia Curry in her studio. Courtesy the Artist

Glenn Kaino

November 17, 2017 – April 22, 2018
Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

The chameleon-esque practice of Japanese-American artist Glenn Kaino utilizes sculpture, spectacle, video and performance to convey political restlessness and the uncanny blurring of news with fallacy. As a former street artist, magician, web designer, theatre producer and chief creative officer for the pioneering digital music startup Napster, Kaino has become celebrated for his re-combinative approach known as “kit-bashing.” Developing his practice at the height of the Internet boom, Kaino was part of a generation of artists who rethought the model-maker's process of assembling standard structures into hybrid forms. His 2014 installation Tank integrates fragments of a decommissioned military tank into a series of aquarium environments. This mid-career survey of the Los Angeles-based artist will span the last decade of his enigmatic work, including his collaborations with marine biologists, mentalists, gang members, chess players and – in his newest work which debuts in this exhibition – celebrity Japanese chef Niki Nakayama.

Glenn Kaino, A Shout Within a Storm, 2014. Courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery Photo Joshua White/

Mark deJong

April 20 – May 20, 2018
Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

The character of Cincinnati’s architectural and artistic complexion was forever changed by the groundbreaking work of Dutch-born, Cincinnati-based artist Mark deJong (b.1966). His launch of Swing House in the late summer of 2017 welcomes adventurous renters into a three-story structure where all floors and walls have been removed to allow the flight of a swing from the front of the house to the back. In concert with previous projects such as Circle House in Camp Washington and Square House in Northside, deJong turns renovation, restoration and residential revitalization into a transformative art.

After initially training as an artist, deJong spent multiple years in house construction before returning to the art world with a hybrid practice that fuses sculpture, installation, performance and community participation. With this exhibition the CAC celebrates his most ambitious venture to date by showcasing the reconstructed three-flight staircase from Swing House as a surreal archaeological artifact. deJong’s other sculptural pieces, which he crafted from the materials salvaged from this and other recent renovations, turn proud but aging surplus into the fodder for elegant, minimalist objects that surround the house and seemingly float in space. In so doing, deJong joins the lineage of artists like Gordon Matta-Clark, Georges Rousse and Theaster Gates in the illuminating re-visioning of built space into poetic and performative interventions. This show will also involve video pieces inspired from the building and navigation of Swing House along with a series of artist-led site tours.

Mark deJong, Swing House (interior detail), 2015-2017. Photo by Hailey Bollinger

Chris Larson

April 20 – May 20, 2018
Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

Minneapolis-based artist Chris Larson’s surreal carpentry transforms ordinary buildings into sculptures, stage sets, musical instruments and performative vehicles. From scale effigies of iconic structures that he builds and subsequently razes to hallucinatory studio spaces that he pierces and spins to create drawings, prints and videos, little in his practice remains rooted or static. Incorporating his parallel practice as a musician, Larson transforms built environments into quizzical instruments that open new paths of perception and orientation. Using humble materials and pioneer techniques to fabricate unexpectedly fantastical worlds that are simultaneously spartan and psychedelic, Larson employs a workman’s approach to archaic looking machines that recast their surroundings, and inhabitants, in a newfound light.

For the 2008 video Deep North he built a shotgun house to harbor a quasi-medieval machine operated by three performers in felt suits – methodically moving blocks of ice from one end to the other in a structure swathed in icicles and irony. In the 2011 video Heavy Rotation, Larson’s actions dissect their contingent site – employing a turntable apparatus to both design and destroy as he opens up striking new dimensions of the artist studio. This exhibition will feature four of Larson’s most memorable video works that skew our understanding of the built world, accompanied by some of the prints and drawings produced in the finely orchestrated fray.

Chris Larson, Heavy Rotation, 2011, Video Still. Image courtesy of the Artist

Firelei Báez

May 18 – August 19, 2018
Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

"There's a fluidity of color, of race, in the Caribbean … In America, you're black.” Caribbean-born, Brooklyn-based artist Firelei Báez navigates a broad spectrum of color, race and identity in her first Ohio exhibition. Born in the Dominican Republic to Dominican and Haitian parents, she immigrated to the United States in 1990 and was increasingly troubled by the restraints of her ethnicity wedged within confining American designations. To re-animate the beautiful complexity of being Afro-Latina and invite a greater congregation of cultural traditions, Báez creates intricate paintings, murals, sculpture and works on paper that brim with vibrant patterns and political agency.

Aiming to re-open perceptions with enchanted worlds of colorful avatars, she explains, “I try to disrupt the current system of social categorization through the creation of characters that refuse definition. As more people become multiracial, skin tone is no longer a sufficient signifier.” With a self-proclaimed interest in the craft and form traditionally thought of as “women’s work” (i.e. textiles, jewelry, ceramics), she channels the history of ornamentation and fashion as acts of resistance among women of the African Diaspora. In concert with added dimensions of anthropology, folklore, science fiction and mythology, Báez’s art offers a fantastical vision within increasingly diverse societies. This exhibition will marry important past works with a number of recent works and a kaleidoscopic new wall painting.

Firelei Báez, To see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls, 2015. Image courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco

Alison Crocetta: A Circus of One        

May 18, 2018 – August 19, 2018
Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

A Circus of One will be Alison Crocetta’s first solo museum exhibition. A New York-born, Columbus-based artist and professor at Ohio State University, Crocetta works in an interdisciplinary fashion to merge performance, sculptural form, film and sound into hybrid artworks. This exhibition will provide an overview of her layered practice with works that span her disciplinary spectrum and evolve through her actions. At the heart of this exhibition will be the premiere of A Circus of One (Act II), a 30-minute event comprised of seven performance actions that occur within the intimate setting of a 20-foot-wide ring. For this project she has joined forces with composer/musician Zac Little of the band Saintseneca. Little’s haunting and spacious music, printed on a vinyl record, creates the soundscape for Crocetta’s stoic performance that runs the gamut from the absurd to the trance-inducing as she interacts with a large, shape-shifting wooden horse. Next to this work will be a projection of her 16mm black-and-white film, A Circus of One (scored by Jason Treuting), and related sculptures that were used in the film’s actions. Crocetta will also premiere RESONATOR, a durational performance piece that features her singing a cappella, which was inspired by the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo’s work, Intonarumori, and his related manifesto, The Art of Noise. Taken as a whole, this exhibition will celebrate the delicate resonance of Crocetta’s voice in both song and action as well as the unique marriage between objects and their shared lives as subjects and performance supports.

Image caption: Alison Crocetta, Surrender, 2013, Performance Still. Photo by Jesus Benavente

Kader Attia

June 8 – September 9, 2018
The Exhibition is a production of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto in partnership with the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Over the last few years the notion of “repair” as both a physical and symbolic act has been at the core of Algerian-French artist Kader Attia’s (b. 1970 Seine-Saint-Denis, France) practice. His work is often driven by exchanges with sympathetic thinkers in fields as far-ranging as medicine, music, psychoanalysis, natural science, political science and architecture. His past works include J’Accuse (2016), an installation of 18 carved wooden busts mirroring the mutilated faces of World War I veterans that are arranged before a projection of the eponymous 1919 anti-war film by Abel Gance. The capacity for such images to serve in the production of fear – particularly in a security-obsessed world order – lies at the heart of Attia’s inquiry. For this exhibition he will develop a new context-specific work around the notion of repair as it is manifest in a particularly Canadian/North American history. The exhibition is curated by Carolin Köchling, Curator of Exhibitions at The Power Plant, and assisted by Nabila Abdel Nabi, RBC Curatorial Fellow at The Power Plant.

Kader Attia, J’Accuse, 2016, Sculpture. Image courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York

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