What Is My Work About?
I have applied three times to RHMF, all New York applications, and now as I am located in the West coast, the nomination trail has followed. How have we not met yet?
On November 12th, I left teaching New Genres at UCLA. The class discussion this day was unusually uncomfortable and challenging. Three essays by Bell Hooks had stimulated the diverse demographic of students to say, state, call out, and tensely express a debate for racism, classism, and sexism in the art world. Their intelligence and vulnerability charged my mind and body for weeks.
I want to speak to you across the screen.
As I write, protests in Hong Kong, Mexico, and U.S are raging. In Los Angeles, “black lives matter” is written on the bus stop at Broadway and 6th, again at Spring and 1st, and counting. I am not sure what we are doing if we are not doing this. I do not think there is political art. I think there is art. It confuses me that art may ever appear to be outside or alternately defined away from politics. Politics is the social. the frame, the producer and the viewer. In relation and out of relation to each other.
Art is a language.
Art can be a commons.
W h e r e it exists turns contestation, forms commodity, and delineates or blurs collective and/or individual authorship. Where it exists- on a canvas, a human body, a bus stop- ignites the definition of aesthetics and title.
This is my work. Crafting experience and testing frames. For years, my medium to this task has been performance and specifically my own body in solo pieces, and as a muse for many contemporary photographers, painters, and performers. In 2012 my work made a noticeable shift. The installation aspects of my performances moved to the foreground, motivated by the questions “How can objects perform when the live body is not present?”, and “How can objects cite action?”. After receiving a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in December 2012, I had the opportunity to move to the desert outside of Joshua Tree National Park. Here, my process opened and continues to open manifold. Since the move, I share my time between a studio and house in 29Palms, CA and Los Angeles. I have picked up the camera as a regular tool, documenting the aerial activity above my home along with creating performances for the camera. I am taking pleasure in making sculptures with wood, applying these shapes as set pieces in photographs as well as exhibiting them as live works paired with lights and shadows. Teaching has been essential in this time. The classroom and my relationships with students puts into action questions for performance and framing. Teaching also puts me in the position of listening as much as directing. This listening, a research of its own.
In the desert studio and house that I rent, I am largely engrossed with the project “THE INTERVIEW”. “THE INTERVIEW” stages Mars—a planet understood astrologically as the self-master of war and revolution—as a colonizing force to comment on the energetic mythos directing the behaviors of war. In 2013, I began researching privatized space proposals to land humans on Mars within the next 10 years. During this same period, I created a series of performance-images shot on abandoned concrete housing foundations at the edge of the 29 Palms U.S. Marine Military Base in Southern California. These images and ongoing conversations with NASA scientists, UFO investigative journalists, and aerospace solar engineers will culminate into “THE INTERVIEW”- an installation of photographs, mineral sculptures, and live performances linking space exploration to militarized human conditions. The project will premiere in 2016 in Houston, then travel to New York, and later Los Angeles.
“THE INTERVIEW” builds on previous works of mine such as “Trilogy (0)” and “Directing Light onto Fist of Father”, in which the arrangement of objects in an installation directs live performative action. “Directing Light…” (2011) positioned a plaster cast fist of my father at the center of an installation with 16mm film, mirrors, a wooden chair, and turmeric at Leo Koenig Projekte in New York, NY. The installation inspired two solo performances and the collaborative work “Revolution. Two Marks in Rotation” with Amapola Prada. For “Initiation”, I stood with my eyes closed for two hours on the opening night next to a glass shelf holding the fist as viewers accumulated in the space. The second performance “The Act” employed light as a tool to converse with the fist as a symbol of power. For two months, I visited the gallery on any sunny day, stood outside with a mirror, and directed sunlight through the window onto the fist resting on the glass shelf. In the middle of the two months, I placed a sign on the door of the gallery stating “The Act: Directing Light onto Fist of Father is at Occupy Wall Street, Zucotti Park, NYC.”
In concert with the themes of militarized human behavior and space travel, “Trilogy (0)” (2012) is an installation of three works responding to the symbol of a bull’s eye and was first shown at Human Resources in Los Angeles, CA. “Contact Sheet of Nike Missiles for a Moon Calendar” informed “Moon Calendar,” 31 inkjet prints of the rear view of U.S. missiles arranged to rotate daily to coincide with the waxing or waning of the moon. Bull’s eyes are drawn on the back of each print, and raised bullet holes are viewed on the front. Before the exhibition, I performed target practice on each photo with a 9mm Beretta pistol and a 22 Remington rifle on a farm in upstate New York. The piece “Bull’s Eye” embeds a single bullet in the gallery floor at the exact center of the building’s ground floor. “Star Sound Wave” is a NASA sound recording of a near “bright star” positioned at the door of the gallery, projecting a sputtering two-tone rhythm of the star in and outside of the gallery. “Trilogy (o)” draws attention to the bull’s eye as a diagram for the orbit of planets as well as a shape illustrative of a sound wave. The work debates the notion of time as linear, implementing a scarred moon calendar in a circuitous movement that conflates images of war missiles with moon orbs. The installation also directs focuses on the utility of a bullet to mark space and define time.
For this application, I have taken a candid approach. I hope to you the reader it serves to inform you of some of my activities as an artist as much as reflect my passion for the contradictions within human experience.
MPA (b. 1980)
2004 Hampshire College, BA
2002 Trinity College/ La MaMa Performing Arts Program
Solo Performances and Exhibitions
2014 ‘Eu como o sol’, “Combinações”, Paço das Artes, São Paulo, BR
2013 ‘Backdrop’, “Stand Close, Its Shorter Than You Think”. ONE Archive, Los Angelas, CA
2012 ‘Direct line to’, “Stage It”. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL
‘Closed Curtain. Two Parts Cinema’, Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY
‘Preparation for a RED year’, “Fire Island Performance Series”. Fire Island, NY
2011 ‘Directing Light onto Fist of Father’, Leo Koenig Projeckte, New York, NY
‘Untitled Response to the Invitation to Respond to Works in the Hessel Collection’, “What’s Past is Prologue”. CCS Bard,
‘Capture//Release//Release//Considered’, “Physical Center”. Guest Projects of Yinka Shonibare Studios, London, U.K.
2010 ‘Channel One’, “The Brown Bear: Neither Particular, Nor General”. Recess Activities INC, New York, NY
‘Here I Stand. Not Waiting’, “Movement Research Performance Festival: HardCorps”. Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, NY
‘I will use this platform’, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY
‘Excuse me, I made a mark before asking permission’ and ‘More than 100,000’, “Piece de Resistance”. Larissa Goldston Gallery,
New York, NY
2009 ‘A Performance for Emma Goldman and Ulrike Meinhof’, Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn, NY
‘Here, some arrangements in your absence’, “Backstage”. Hudson Guild Theater, New York,
2008 ‘Threaded Yellow’, “Performance Festival 2008”. Meat Market Gallery, Washington, D.C.
‘Please, Lie with Me. 15min’, “Intrude: Art and Life 366”. Zendai MOMA, Shanghai, China
2007 ‘Chakra Sketch’, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham, U.K.
2006 ‘this is the sound of my desire for you’, “Re-Do It? Re-Presenting Bodies in Performance”. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2005 ‘Flight’, The Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco, CA
can today, “LTTR: Let’s take this role”. The Kitchen, New York, NY
Collaborations and Group Exhibitions
2014 ‘Close Encounter’, “Pier 54”, Highline, New York, NY
‘Mal Pais’, “Friday Flights”, with Cay Castagnetto, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angelas, CA
“The Artist Theater Program”, directed by Erika Voght, EMPAC Troy, NY
“Drowning and Swallowing this text”, LACE, Los Angelas, CA
2012 ‘Trilogy (o)’, “Gap, Mark, Sever and Return”. Human Resources, Los Angelas, CA
‘Painting Rooms’, performance and installation with Leidy Churchman, “Expanded Performance”. Stroom, Den Hague, NL
‘Lettered Address’, performance with MV Carbon, “Heart to Hand”, The Swiss Institute, New York, NY
‘Point of Focus’, “Beneath”. Vogt Gallery, New York, NY
2011 ‘Revolution. Two Marks in Rotation’, performance with Amapola Prada, “Directing Light onto Fist of Father”. Leo Koenig Inc., New York,
‘Walking to the mic, the other falling off her chair’, performance with Malin Arnell, “In the Act”. Silvershed, New York, NY
‘MPA and Katherine Hubbard In Habit’, “Always the Young Strangers”. Higher Pictures Gallery, New York, NY
‘Come Closer’, “Melee Talent”. The Kitchen, New York, NY
2010 ‘Sense and Sense’ by Emily Roysdon, performer. Konsthall C. Stockholm, Sweden
‘MPA and Katherine Hubbard’, Higher Pictures Gallery, New York, NY
2009 ‘Black Marker Held Tightly, Calmly’, performance with Emma Hedditch. Art in General, New York, NY
2008 ‘I Agree to Meet Your Eyes and Hold Steady’, performance with Liz Rosenfeld. Meat Market Gallery, Washington, D.C.
2006 ‘Nuevos Barbaros’, performance directed by Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Roberto Sifuentes, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca,
Oaxaca City, Mexico
Teaching and Workshops
2014 Visiting Professor in New Genres, UCLA, Los Angelas, CA
2013 Visiting Professor in New Genres, UCLA, Los Angelas, CA
2012 Visiting Professor, Parsons the New School of Design, New York, NY
Visiting Lecturer, Boston University, Boston, MA
Workshop: Movement Besides, “And and and…”, dOCUMENTA (13), Kasel, Germany
Grants and Awards
2012 Foundation for Contemporary Arts, 2013 Grants to Artists Award, New York, NY
2007 Chicago CAAP Individual Artist Grant, Chicago, IL
2010 IASPIS, Stockholm, Sweden
Denniston Hill Artist Residency, Woodridge, NY
2007 Hancock & Kelly Live Artist Residency, Nottingham, U.K.
2006 La Pocha Nostra Residency, Oaxaca, Mexico
Brewer Ball, Katherine. “Conversation with artist MPA”, Women & Performance: A Journal ofFeminist Theory, Special Issue on Affective Labor, ed. Tavia Nyong’o (Forthcoming 2013)
MPA, “I was asked to write about Occupy Wall Street and Directing Light Light onto Fist of Father.” Paper Monument Issue 4, ed. Dushko Petrovich
MPA, “Contact Sheet of Nike Missiles for a Moon Calendar”, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol 41, No. 3, Special Issue: “Engage!”, ed. Cynthia Chris and David A. Gerstner (Forthcoming 2013)
Brewer Ball. Katherine. “Queer Political Histories Occupy the Park and the Gallery: MPA andSharon Hayes” Modern Language Association Conference, Boston, Jan. 2013
MPA and Amapola Prada. “Artist Project: Revolution: Two Marks in Rotation”, C Magazine, Issue: Participation, ed. Amish Morrell, Autumn 2012
K8 Hardy, “MPA”, Paris, L.A., Fall Issue 2011, ed. Dorothée Perret
Daniel Tucker and Emily Forman, “Building the Temporary Autonomous Television Studio,” Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Issue 4.
Samara Davis, “Critics’ Pick: Stand Close”, Artforum.com, May, 2013
Arely Villegas, “Gap, Mark, Sever, and Return: Series”, ArtSlant, December 13, 2012
Agnieszka Gratza, “Critics’ Pick: Expanded Performance”, Artforum.com, December 2012
David Everitt Howe, “MPA and Amapola Prada: Revolution. Two Marks in Rotation”, Art Review, November 22, 2011
Eileen Myles, “Roving Ei: The Avant-Garde Crowd”, Art in America, November 12, 2011
Holland Cotter, “MPA: ‘Directing Light onto Fist of Father'”, The New York Times, October 27, 2011
Andrew Russeth, “At Leo Koenig, MPA and Amapola Prada Revolution Perform for Two Crowds”, Gallerist NY, November 9, 2011
Corrine Fitzpatrick, “MPA”, Artforum.com, October 27, 2011
Courtney Malik, “MPA: “Directing Light onto Fist of Father” DIS Magazine, October 14, 2011
Rachel Mason, “MPA”, Art 21, October 6, 2011
Litia Perta “MPA Directing Light onto Fist of Father”, The Brooklyn Rail, October 2011
Holland Cotter, “Always the Young Strangers”, New York Times, June 2011
Anne Doran, “Always the Young Strangers”, TimeOut New York, June 2011
Sara Marcus, “Passing the Bar”, Artforum, May 2011
Tyler Coburn, “If I Don’t Move Can You Hear Me?”, Art Review, March 2011
A.L. Steiner, “The Artist’s Artists Best of 2010”, Artforum, January 2010
RANDY, “MPA and Katherine Hubbard”, November 2010
David Velasco, “Queer Eyes”, Artforum, November 2010,
Charlie Schultz, “Free your Aesthetics”, Artslant, November 2010
Cynthia Chris, “MPA: I will Use This Platform”, Springerin, July 2010
Carly Berwick, “Higher Education”, Art in America, March 2010 New York, NY