Key to MOCA Toronto’s online platform launches new film and video offerings for 2021/22

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, The Boat People, 2020 (photo). Single channel, 4k, Super 16mm video transferred to digital, color, 5.1 surround sound 20 min. © Tuan Andrew Nguyen 2021. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.

Toronto, ON… November 1, 2021, The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA) today shared details of its new season of programming on Shift Key, the Museum’s digital moving image platform. Curated by Carly Whitefield, Assistant Curator, International Art at Tate Modern, What we report addresses specific questions and themes raised during the first Triennial of the Museum Greater Toronto Art 2021 (GTA21), and expands this dialogue with the participation of eight international artists.

What we report is inspired by explorations of heritage and the public realm developed through GTA21physical and digital spaces of . Taking place over four months, the series combines film, video and artist animation that together open up questions about remnants and legacies, ownership and agency. Works by artists Allora & Calzadilla, Theo Eshetu, Mona Hatoum, Samson Kambalu, Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, Aura Satz, Cauleen Smith and Cecilia Vicuña will be presented.

Mona Hatoum, Roadworks, 1985 (photo). Documentation of performance, Brixton, London. Color video with sound. 6 min 45 sec. © Mona Hatoum. Courtesy Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (Photo: Stefan Rohner)

Featured on the MOCA website from November 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022, the program begins with Samson Kambalu A thousand years (2013) and Dogs see invisible things (2016) and Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn The Boat People (2020), who take imaginative and cinematic approaches to addressing traces of the past. Allora & Calzadilla’s return a sound (2004) and Theo Eshetu The Return of the Aksum Obelisk (2009) focus on acts of recuperation and repatriation, while Mona Hatoum Works (1985) and Aura Satz Preventative Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road) (2018) insist on maintaining signs of public resistance and resilience. by Cecilia Vicuna Paracas (1983) and Cauleen Smith Pilgrim (2017) close the program by animating objects and sites with the creativity and generosity of spirit of those who shaped them.

“This series brings together a range of artistic voices and approaches, each prompting different ways of thinking about the question of what we carry forward. He moves from the immediacy of objects encountered in the landscape to more intangible sounds, gestures and feelings. I am so grateful to MOCA for giving me the opportunity to collect and make accessible powerful works by a remarkable group of artists,” said Carly Whitefield.

MOCA launched Shift key in the spring of 2020 in order to present and support more artists via the Museum’s online platform and to expand its digital offer. After initially curating the program in-house, MOCA now invites guest curators to select works of art that feel relevant at this time and can be shared online for free viewing. Previous curators have included Daisy Desrosiers and Native Art Department International (Jason Lujan and Maria Hupfield). Videos are currently posted for one month. Thereafter, an image and other materials remain, resulting in an archive on the MOCA website – in image and text – as a document of the conversations and relationships formed thus far. Shift key is generously supported by Scotiabank.

Shift key is a critically acclaimed and highly regarded platform for the work of leading international contemporary artists and curators. This edition of Shift key brings international perspectives to MOCA’s fall programming and provides a dynamic portal to MOCA to engage audiences beyond the museum itself. We appreciated the opportunity to work with Carly Whitefield given her extensive expertise in this area,” said Kathleen Bartels, Executive Director and CEO of MOCA.

Shift key Schedule 2021-2022

November 2021

Samson Kambalu – b. 1975 in Malawi. Lives and works in Oxford, England.

Thousand Years (2013) and Dogs see invisible things (2016) are part of Samson Kambalu’s ongoing “Nyau Cinema” series, a group of short films featuring site-specific spontaneous performances in public space often recorded by strangers. Each is silent and lasts less than a minute. The films are influenced by both the aesthetics of early cinema and the impromptu screenings Kambalu attended as a child in Malawi in the 1980s.

Kambalu’s work is autobiographical and approaches art as an arena of critical thought and sovereign activity. He is the winner of London’s fourth plinth commission in 2022 in Trafalgar Square.

Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn – b. 1976 in Saigon, Vietnam. Lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).

Situated on the precarious edge of possible human extinction, The Boat People (2020) follows a group of children who travel the seas and collect the stories of a world they have never known through objects that have survived. They find artifacts from a refugee crisis, a world war, and some of the earliest migrations in human history. Conversing with, reproducing and burning these vestiges, they navigate in political and spiritual forms of liberation of the entities they encounter.

Nguyễn’s artistic practice explores strategies of political resistance by reworking historical, fictional and supernatural narratives. He is a founding member of the Propeller Group.

December 2021

Allora & Calzadilla – Jennifer Allora b. 1974 in Philadelphia (PA) USA and Guillermo Calzadilla b. 1971 in Havana, Cuba. Lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

return a sound (2004) follows the soundtrack of a citizen’s journey from the town of Isabel Segunda around the demilitarized zones of Vieques, Puerto Rico, and back on a moped whose muffler is mounted on a trumpet. The noise reduction device comes to produce a resounding call for attention, acoustically reterritorializing an island that had been exposed for more than 60 years to the deafening detonations of the US Navy’s bomb testing program.

Allora and Calzadilla are an artist duo whose work through sculpture, performance, video, sound and photography explores contemporary geopolitics, cultural artifacts and archaeological history.

Theo Eshetu – b. 1958 London, England. Lives in Rome, Italy.

The Return of the Aksum Obelisk (2009) is a single-channel version of Eshetu’s elaborate, non-linear video installation, which traces the 2003-2008 return of the Aksum obelisk to Ethiopia 70 years after its confiscation during the Italian invasion and relocation in Rome. Built in the 3rd century, the obelisk is a relic of the ancient kingdom of Aksum, the pre-Christian civilization of Ethiopia.

Exploring themes and images from anthropology, art history, scientific research and religious iconography, Eshetu’s artistic practice considers how electronic media shapes identity and perception. .

January 2022

Mona Hatoum – b. 1952 Beirut, Lebanon. Lives and works in London, England.

Works (1985) is a short video edited from documentation of artist Mona Hatoum’s hour-long performance of the same title, performed on the streets of Brixton in south-west London in 1985. In the performance, the artist takes long, slow strides through the street market with a pair of Doc Martens boots in tow.

Hatoum’s poetic and political approach to art encompasses installations, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper.

Aura Satz – n. 1974, Spain. Lives and works in London, England.

Preventative Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road) (2018) explores sonic obedience and disobedience through the siren trope. In the film, the sounds of Lebanese trumpet improviser Mazen Kerbaj are heard alongside actor and activist Khalid Abdalla’s account of the siren as the iconic sound of resistance, oppression and lost futures during the Arab Spring.

Aura Satz is an artist whose practice explores various sound technologies and how these might generate new soundscapes and new forms of listening.

February 2022

Cecilia Vicuna – b. 1948, Santiago, Chile. Lives and works in Santiago and New York, United States.

Conceived as a visual and sound poem in seven scenes, Paracas (1983) is an animation of a two-thousand-year-old pre-Columbian textile developed in the Paracas/Nazca region and now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

Vicuña is a poet, performer and sound and visual artist, whose work emerges from a strong desire to preserve and pay homage to Chile’s indigenous history and culture.

Cauleen Smith – b. 1967, Riverside (CA), USA. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Pilgrim (2017) unfolds like a dreamlike pilgrimage across the United States tracing sites of radical generosity and creativity that inspired Cauleen Smith. These include Alice Coltrane-Turiyasangitananda’s Ashram, Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, Noah Purifoy’s Open-Air Desert Art Museum, and Watervliet Shaker Historic District in New York State. , the site of the nation’s first Shaker community.

Smith is an artist and filmmaker whose work explores Afrofuturism, spiritualism, utopianism and black creativity in equally powerful and poetic ways.

About MOCA Toronto

MOCA Toronto is driven by the principle that museums and their programs are culturally and socially beneficial to the diversity of the communities they serve. MOCA supports and promotes avant-garde artistic experimentation and provides a community space for enrichment, discourse, collaboration and creativity. Working across all forms of contemporary art, MOCA’s programs empower local artists and engage the Toronto art scene while contributing to the international arts community and scholarship. MOCA is a non-profit charitable organization. The evolution of the Museum is made possible through a unique alliance with Castlepoint Numa, public sector funders, private donors, members, sponsors and a network of cross-sector partners.

Operating funding for MOCA is provided by the City of Toronto, the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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