MOCA ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF MIA LOCKS AS
SENIOR CURATOR AND HEAD OF NEW INITIATIVES

AND

THE MUSEUM’S 2019-20 ADVANCE EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

LOS ANGELES—The Museum of Contemporary Art announces Mia Locks as Senior Curator and Head of New Initiatives, the latest addition to the MOCA curatorial team. In her new role she will not only curate exhibitions and help steward the continued growth of the museum’s collection, but she will also help identify and develop initiatives to address the important social, civic, and political concerns of our times.

“I am thrilled that Mia will join MOCA’s curatorial team,” says MOCA Director Klaus Biesenbach. “She has an outstanding curatorial track record that embodies research and courage, scholarship and innovation. As a contemporary art museum, MOCA needs to anticipate and respond to the world around us, and Mia will help us to lead efforts to support the issues that artists care about most. For example, museums have to address pressing issues of equity and inclusion, and climate and ecology, among others. I know Mia will help bring attention to these issues and support MOCA in being a responsible citizen among citizens.”

Prior to her appointment at MOCA, Locks was an independent curator based in New York and a 2018 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership. She was co-curator of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, with Christopher Y. Lew, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and previously held positions at MoMA PS1 and MOCA. Locks has organized numerous thematic as well as monographic exhibitions including Greater New York (2015), co-organized with Douglas Crimp, Peter Eleey, and Thomas J. Lax; Math Bass: Off the Clock (2015); IM Heung-Soon: Reincarnation (2015); The Little Things Could Be Dearer(2014); and Samara Golden: The Flat Side of the Knife (2014). She also curated Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 (2011), with David Frantz, as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative.

“I am delighted to return to Los Angeles and to MOCA, where I started my career,” says Locks. “I look forward to working with Klaus and the MOCA team on exhibitions and programs. I’m also very excited to develop a variety of initiatives that support MOCA’s efforts to be an equitable, forward thinking, and socially engaged cultural institution on a local, national, and international scale.”

Additionally, MOCA recently promoted Amanda Hunt to a dual position of Director of Education and Senior Curator of Programs and longtime MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson has been newly appointed to the position of Senior Curator and Administrative Department Head. Anna Katz who is organizing the forthcoming exhibition With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 has been promoted from Associate Curator to Curator.

“We have a dynamic and evolving curatorial team at MOCA providing a multiplicity of curatorial voices for the museum,” Biesenbach continues. “It is reflected in the diversity of our upcoming exhibition schedule and we’ve only just begun to collaborate more widely.”

Image credit: Mia Locks. Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo by Pari Dukovic, ©Trunk Archive

2019-20 MOCA ADVANCE EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

WITH PLEASURE: PATTERN AND DECORATION IN AMERICAN ART 1972–1985
OCTOBER 27, 2019–MAY 11, 2020
MOCA GRAND AVENUE
CURATOR: ANNA KATZ
With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Covering the years 1972 to 1985 and featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. Pattern and Decoration artists gleaned motifs, color schemes, and materials from the decorative arts, freely appropriating floral, arabesque, and patchwork patterns and arranging them in intricate, almost dizzying, and sometimes purposefully gaudy designs. Their work across mediums pointedly evokes a pluralistic array of sources from Islamic architectural ornamentation to American quilts, wallpaper, Persian carpets, and domestic embroidery. Pattern and Decoration artists practiced a postmodernist art of appropriation borne of love for its sources rather than the cynical detachment that became de rigueur in the international art world of the 1980s. This exhibition traces the movement’s broad reach in postwar American art by including artists widely regarded as comprising the core of the movement, such as Valerie Jaudon, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnel, and Miriam Schapiro; artists whose contributions to Pattern and Decoration have been underrecognized, such as Merion Estes, Dee Shapiro, Kendall Shaw, and Takako Yamaguchi; as well as artists who are not normally considered in the context of Pattern and Decoration, such as Emma Amos, Billy Al Bengston, Al Loving, and Betty Woodman. Though little studied today, the Pattern and Decoration movement was institutionally recognized, critically received, and commercially successful from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The overwhelming preponderance of craft-based practices and unabashedly decorative sensibilities in art of the present-day point to an influential P&D legacy that is ripe for consideration.

OPEN HOUSE: GALA PORRAS-KIM
OCTOBER 27, 2019–MAY 11, 2020
MOCA GRAND AVENUE
CURATOR: BRYAN BARCENA
Beginning in spring 2019, MOCA dedicates its downtown locations to multiple exhibitions celebrating the museum’s 40th anniversary and its permanent collection. Each location will feature special exhibitions highlighting different themes and stories found within the institution’s permanent collection of more than 7,000 objects. As part of this celebration, MOCA will debut a new ongoing series of exhibitions titled Open House. For the first time in its history, MOCA invites Los Angeles-based artists to organize exhibitions drawn from the museum’s extensive collection of objects. The artists selected will work together with MOCA curators to explore how the museum’s permanent collection can continue to serve, educate, inform, represent, and delight the diverse and extensive community of artists in Southern California. Open House will give visitors a chance to see the depth and breadth of MOCA’s collection focused through the unique lens provided by the community of artists that it serves. The second iteration of this exhibition series will be Open House: Gala Porras-Kim. Gala Porras-Kim’s practice explores how the history of art is built from remnants and fragments of information from the past. More specifically, she explores how our indexes or records are often flawed or willfully misdirected, and how these gaps and lapses in human knowledge have supported colonialist endeavors and global inequality. For her exhibition at MOCA, Porras-Kim seeks to question the almost-contradictory idea of a contemporary permanent collection. To do so, she has sought out artworks that oppose the idea that a museum’s permanent collection is a collection of immutable objects frozen in time. Instead, she will bring together artworks that are transitory, ephemeral, and even created to expire.

JENNIFER PACKER
SPRING/SUMMER 2020
THE GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY AT MOCA
CURATOR: BENNETT SIMPSON
Over the past five years, New York painter Jennifer Packer has received increasing acclaim for her portraits and allegorical tableaux, including numerous flower bouquet still-lifes commemorating victims of police slayings. Rendered in virtuosic expressive style and layered intensity, Packer’s canvasses and drawings surface representations of intimacy, embodiment, and loss and mark an important new direction in figurative painting. Organized by MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson, this exhibition of new and recent work is the West Coast debut of a rising talent.

PIPILOTTI RIST 
SPRING/SUMMER 2020
THE GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY AT MOCA
CURATOR: ANNA KATZ
MOCA is pleased to present the first major West Coast survey of internationally renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, spanning more than thirty years of her pioneering work in video/audio installation.

HENRY TAYLOR
WINTER 2020–SPRING 2021
THE GEFFEN CONTEPORARY AT MOCA
CURATOR: BENNETT SIMPSON
Surveying twenty-five years of Henry Taylor’s work in painting, sculpture, and installation, this retrospective will celebrate a Los Angeles artist widely appreciated for his unique aesthetic, social vision, and freewheeling experimentation. Populated by friends, family members, strangers on the street, athletic stars, and entertainers—people he has known or revered—or imagined from current events, Taylor’s portraits and allegorical tableaux display flashes of familiarity in their seemingly brash compositions, which nonetheless linger in the imagination with uncanny detail and an abundance of empathy for human tribulation. In his paintings of cigarette packs, cereal boxes, beer crates and other objects, Taylor brings his primary medium into the realm of common culture, a recycling from everyday life perfectly in synch with his unpretentious and always generous spirit. Similarly, the artist’s installations often recode the forms and symbolisms of found materials (bleach bottles, push brooms) to play upon art historical tropes—a sensitivity to modernism’s appropriations of African or African-American culture, most notably. Taken together, the various strands of Taylor’s practice display a deep observation of Black life in America at the turn of the century, while also inviting a humanist fellowship that pushes outward from the particular. Organized by MOCA Senior Curator Bennett Simpson, this will be the first large-scale museum exhibition in Taylor’s hometown.

TALA MADANI
WINTER 2020–SPRING 2021
THE GEFFEN CONTEPORARY AT MOCA
CURATOR: MIA LOCKS
MOCA is organizing the first North American survey of Tala Madani’s paintings, animations, and drawings. Bringing together fifteen years of the artist’s incisive work, the exhibition will highlight the often-absurd socio-cultural dynamics enacted within Madani’s art, as well as the potent and combustible relationship between art history and global history more broadly. The exhibition’s audiences will encounter powerful meditations on the potential for painting to reflect the deeply-seated cultural fears, conflicts, and desires of our present day. Eliciting curiosity, fantasy, and repulsion, Madani’s paintings and animations are rich in narrative and heavy in irony. Born in 1981 in Tehran, Iran, the artist moved to the United States in her teens and earned her MFA from Yale University in 2006. While Madani’s work is informed by her experience of the dual contexts of and complex relationship between Iran and the United States, her approach to questions of masculinity, xenophobia, collective delusions, and taboo behaviors extends beyond these geographic borders. Through her distinctive approach to painting, which combines expressionism with sharp-witted caricature, Madani creates imagery that cannot be reduced to any single reading. The protagonists of the artist’s works are frequently bald, middle-aged men engaging in absurd, humiliating, violent, or boneheaded scenarios with suspicious outcomes. The canon of Modernist art history, and questions of painting’s capacity to convey visceral, conflicting internal states are also targets of Madani’s penetrating wit and deft, fluid draftsmanship.