Exhibition: “Don’t Look Back: The 1990s” at MOCA Geffen


Don’t Look Back: The 1990s curated by MOCA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth
@at MOCA/Geffen? Los Angeles

Through July 11, 2016

Don’t Look Back: The 1990s at MOCA Geffen comprises works from MOCA’s permanent collection that identify the recent decade’s key concerns and transformations, including many that have not been on view since originally shown and acquired.

The exhibition at MOCA Geffen shows different aspects of the 90s, like the explosion of free speeches with for example that huge canvas by LA artist, Barbara Kruger, on which she writes  “it’s our pleasure to disgust you“, or like the culmination of the concept with for example the poignant diptych by Baldessari “Two highrises/two witnesses”;

barbara kruger
exhibition view


The art at MOCA Geffen is classified by theme, “Installation; The Outmoded; Noir America; Place and Identity; Touch, Intimacy, and Queerness; and Space, Place, and Scale”, but beyond that classification an essential question is being asked all through and whatever the theme: is the art, the one that testifies of its time, the one that acts as an archivist of its time, is that art, Art? because with some of the pieces shown, the visitor is more attracted to pay attention to the details, to the items on the art scene than to consider the piece as a whole.

Mark Dion, 1994. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (Toys 'R' U.S.)
Mark Dion, 1994. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (Toys ‘R’ U.S.)

It is particularly obvious with Mark Dion’s piece (above) or with Telephones by Christian Marclay -1994- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH5HTPjPvyE

John Baldessari (1990??) Two Highrises (With Disruptions) / Two Witnesses (Red and Green)
John Baldessari Two Highrises (With Disruptions) / Two Witnesses (Red and Green)


On the contrary, with certain other pieces, the archivist/scientific work is more balanced; the piece contains it all: the archive matter in addition to the elevation up to a superior level of thoughts, in addition to a magnificent aesthetic…  John Balessari (above) says it all, time is even shading the color of the photographs which render an even better effect. It is Art. Also, the canvas by Barbara Kruger with the sentence “it’s our pleasure to disgust you” is still disruptive and works perfectly in 2016. Same for Catherine Opie (below), her wonderful series of freeways still work perfectly and even better!

No doubt it is very interesting at MOCA Geffen to see how the art made at a certain time by strong names works with the passing of time.

Freeways series by Catherine Opie
Freeways series by Catherine Opie