The Body Electric
In an age dominated by digital technology, The Body Electric explores themes of the real and the virtual, the organic and the artificial, moving from the world into the screen and back again, with a particular emphasis on questions of gender, sexuality, class, and race. Building on ideas raised by the art in the exhibition, MOAD Talks brings together artists, curators, critics, and others to discuss the impact of art, science, and technology on contemporary life.
MOAD Talks include four live online programs on Zoom, as well as four prerecorded events available on the Museum’s Vimeo and YouTube channels. MOAD Talks are free and open to the public. Advance registration is required for live events.
Live Online Programs
Tishan Tsu and Jes Fan: Thinking Through the “Malleable Body”
Tuesday, March 23, 6:30-8:00 PM EDT
Who are we? What are we? Are we always the same? Why? How not? Humans can change how we appear in the world, both physically and virtually. We are malleable. Tishan Tsu and Jes Fan, artists included in The Body Electric, discuss their approaches to the challenge of our "malleable body" in their creative practice and work.
Jes Fan was born in Canada, raised in Hong Kong, and lives and works in Brooklyn. Fan received his BFA in glass from the Rhode Island School of Design and works with glass, silicone, and resin to create sculptures that probe the inconsistencies of subjectivity and identity, honing a practice that engages both art and science, while questioning binary conceptions of race, gender, and identity.
Born in Boston, Tishan Hsu spent his early years in Zurich, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and New York. He held his first one-person show as a teenager in Virginia, where his paintings were exhibited throughout the region. He received his BSAD in 1973 and MArch. in 1975 from MIT. He also studied film at the Carpenter Center at Harvard. Hsu has resided in New York since 1979. Much of Tsu’s work has attempted to convey the changing cognitive and physical effects of an embodied technology. His interest in technology has not been in the use of a particular apparatus but the perception of a technological affect. His work has included drawings, paintings, interactive digital media projections, and sculpture, and is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt am Main; and the High Museum, Atlanta.
K8 Hardy and Jeanne Vaccaro: Art and Intimacy
Wednesday, March 31, 6:30–8:00 PM EDT
Tackling themes of identity, embodiment, and technology, The Body Electric
exhibition artist K8 Hardy and curator Jeanne Vaccaro discuss self-portraiture as a form of performance, the embodied aesthetics of branding, and resisting the constraints of what they refer to as “the identity politics of art making.”
K8 Hardy was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and lives and works in New York. She is a graduate of Smith College, the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College, and the Whitney Independent Studies Program. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She is a founding member of the queer feminist journal and artist collective LTTR and the New York-based activist group W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy).
Arts writer and curator Jeanne Vaccaro organizes exhibitions and public programs for the ONE Archives and teaches queer and trans history in the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Southern California.
Eduardo Crespo and John Silvis: “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”*
Wednesday, April 21, 6:30–8:00 PM EDT
The Body Electric exhibition artist Eduardo Crespo and curator and art advisor John Silvis discuss the role of identity politics in contemporary art. Crespo’s work questions how we see ourselves and the impact of culturally mediated messages about the body, its meanings, and its limits. What does embodiment mean? Crespo embarked on a complex journey into the trans community and arrived at a transition to discover his authentic self.
Eduardo Andres Crespo, formerly known as Andrea Crespo, lives and works in New York. In the past, Crespo examined cultural and historical narratives surrounding different forms of psychological and bodily being. His practice has encompassed identity, or errors of identity, though he has also focused on the connections of psychopathological realities, cultural formations, and digital communities associated with them. His body of works range from video and sound installations to prints and drawings.
John Silvis is a New York-based curator and art advisor. His recent artist research has included artists from Berlin, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore. In addition to curating contemporary art in New York and Los Angeles, he writes for Artsy, CNN, and PARNASS. Recent curatorial projects include Season 3 at the Orange County Museum of Art; Twinkle at Barney Savage, New York; and Define Gravity: Sculpture in the Ahmanson Collection, Ahmanson Gallery, Irvine, California.
*The title is taken from Eduardo Crespo's video Transitions: Living and Leaving the Trans Life (2021).
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Dr. María Fernández: Art and Social Engagement
Tuesday, May 11, 6:30–8:00 PM EDT
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, an artist included in The Body Electric, and Dr. María Fernández explore the aesthetics and ethics of participatory art, which engages individuals, communities, and organizations in the process of creation. How does creative activity intersect with political and social engagement? Does it encourage political interest? Democratic literacy? Is art merely a means to stimulate political activity or can it become its own distinct mode of political expression?
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born in Mexico City. In 1989 he received a BSc in Physical Chemistry from Concordia University in Montréal. A media artist working at the intersection of architecture and performance art, he creates platforms for public participation using technologies such as robotic lights, digital fountains, computerized surveillance, media walls, and telematic networks. Inspired by phantasmagoria, carnival, and animatronics, his light and shadow works are “antimonuments for alien agency.” Lozano-Hemmer was the first artist to represent Mexico at the Venice Biennale with an exhibition at Palazzo Van Axel in 2007. His public art has been commissioned for the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City (1999), the Expansion of the European Union in Dublin (2004), the Student Massacre Memorial in Tlatelolco (2008), the Vancouver Olympics (2010), the pre-opening exhibition of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi (2015), and the activation of the Raurica Roman Theatre in Basel (2018). Recently, Lozano-Hemmer was the subject of nine solo exhibitions worldwide, including a major show at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, the inaugural show at the Amorepacific Museum of Art in Seoul, and a mid-career retrospective co-produced by the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2019 his immersive performance Atmospheric Memory
premiered at the Manchester International Festival and his interactive installation Border Tuner connected people across the US-Mexico border using bridges of light controlled by the voices of participants in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas.
María Fernández is Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at Cornell University. Her research interests include the history and theory of digital art, postcolonial/decolonial and gender studies, Latin American art and architecture, and the intersections of these fields. She is the author of Cosmopolitanism in Mexican Visual Culture (University of Texas Press, 2014) for which she was awarded the Arvey Prize by the Association for Latin American Art in 2015. She edited the volumes, Latin American Modernisms and Technology (Cornell Institute of Comparative Modernities and Africa World Press, 2018) and Domain Errors: Cyberfeminist Practices, with Faith Wilding and Michelle Wright (Autonomedia, 2002). Her essays have appeared in the journals Leonardo, Art Journal, Third Text, and Architectural Design, as well as in several volumes, including A Companion to Feminist Art, edited by Hilary Robinson and Maria Elena Buszek (Wiley Backwell, 2019), The Art of Art History, edited by Donald Preziosi (Oxford University Press, 2009), and White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960–1980, edited by Paul Brown, et al., (MIT Press, 2008).
Pavel Pyś: Reflections on The Body Electric
In this video, the curator of The Body Electric, Pavel Pyś, talks about the art and ideas explored by the exhibition, and how he organized its thematic sections. The exhibition looks at our fraught relationship to technology, particularly the increasingly inescapable interface between our bodies and screens. The remarkably varied art in the exhibition examines the last 50 years of artists addressing the way technological mediation has come to dominate our interactions with the world, with each other, and with ourselves.
Pavel Pyś is Curator, Visual Arts, Walker Art Center.
Rhys Ernst and Bobbi Salvör Menuez: Through a Trans Lens
Rhys Ernst, an artist included in The Body Electric, and Bobbi Salvör Menuez discuss their work, queer collaboration, and the creative vitality of the trans lens, a life perspective that insists gender is fluid and not fixed, and can be represented in multiple ways. If the conventions of strict gender dichotomy are destabilized, what becomes of self-authenticity? Are notions of the gendered self permanently undermined or challenged to undergo radical reinvention?
Rhys Ernst is a filmmaker and artist. His debut feature film, Adam, premiered at the Sundance 2019 Film Festival, won awards at Outfest, Oslo Fusion, and the Mezipatra Film Festival, and was nominated for a 2020 GLAAD award. Ernst has shown work at the Whitney Biennial, the Sundance Film Festival, Oberhausen, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, The Walker Art Center, and the Hammer Museum; he has won two Special Recognition GLAAD Awards as well as awards at Outfest, Chicago International Film Festival, the Los Angeles and the Seattle Transgender Film Festivals. He has been awarded fellowships from the Point Foundation, Film Independent’s Project Involve, Sundance FilmTwo, and the Universal Director’s Initiative. He was awarded the 2015 Point Foundation Horizon Award and the ACLU Liberty Award for his work on transgender representation in the media. He received a BA from Hampshire College and an MFA from CalArts, and lives in Los Angeles.
Bobbi Salvör Menuez is an actor and transdisciplinary maker. Recent acting credits include working on Euphoria,
Adam, I Love Dick, and forthcoming experimental features from Daniel Askill and Kuba Czekaj. They are 1/3 of Spiral Theory Test Kitchen, with which they make queer food-based art. They live on Lenape Land (aka Brooklyn) with their partner, two cats, and pet snake. They meditate every day, and sometimes they write.
Marta Marta Minujín in Conversation with José Luis Blondet
Marta Minujín, an artist included in the exhibition The Body Electric, talks with José Luis Blondet about her life of audience-engaged artistic creation, which tackles themes and issues that range from politics to definitions of art and the myriad ways in which we perceive the world.
Marta Minujín was born in 1943 in Buenos Aires. She studied fine art at the Escuela de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano (1953–59) and art education at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes (1960–61), both in Buenos Aires. In 1961 she went to Paris as a part of a delegation of Argentine participants in that year’s Paris Biennial. She returned to Paris the following year after receiving a fellowship to study painting informally in France (1962–63). Subsequently, she has split her time between New York and Buenos Aires, where she currently resides. A pioneer of happenings, performance art, soft sculpture, and video, Minujín has pursued a varied and irreverent practice that demonstrates a profound distrust of the collectible art object. She often uses ephemeral materials such as cardboard, fabric, and food in work that is both monumental and fragile. Many of the artist’s actions have employed surprise, provocation, and even violence; some early works saw her destroy all her existing sculptures. Minujín has held solo exhibitions at Bianchini Gallery, New York (1966); Howard Wise Gallery, New York (1967); Centro de Arte y Comunicación, Buenos Aires (1975); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires (1999); The Americas Society, New York (2010); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2010); and Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2011). Group exhibitions have included the Paris Biennial (1961); Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, Musée Rodin, Paris (1962); Du labyrinthe à la chambre d'amour, Tokyo (1963–64); La boîte et son contenu, Galerie Legendre, Paris (1964); Art of Latin America Since Independence, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut (1966); Imán: Nueva York, Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires (2010); and the São Paulo Biennial (2010). Her honors include the Premio Nacional Instituto Torcuato Di Tella Award (1964) and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1966).
José Luis Blondet is Curator of Special Projects at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where he has organized exhibitions such as Maria Nordman FILMROOM:SMOKE, 1967–Present (2011); Compass for Surveyors: Nineteenth-Century American Landscapes from LACMA’s Painting and Photography Collections (2013); Various Small Fires (2015); and Liz Glynn: The Myth of Singularity (2016). Blondet also programs and commissions theater and performance projects for the museum by artists such as Machine Project, Rachel Mason, Emily Mast, Asher Hartman, and Guy de Cointet. Previously, Blondet worked for the Boston Center for the Arts and the Dia Art Foundation in New York. In Caracas, Blondet was a professor at the School of Arts at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and worked at the Museum of Fine Arts until 2001, when he left for New York to participate in Bard College´s Center for Curatorial Studies program with a grant from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Manuel Prados and George Yúdice: Tracing the Screen
What's behind our screens? Manuel Prados and George Yúdice engage this important question by tracing the origin of the physical elements that make up the surfaces we use every day to see hundreds of images. What are some of the social, cultural, and physical implications of obtaining them, such as the transformation of Earth’s territory and landscape, and the growing race to extract these elements in outer space? This dialogue reviews a series of artistic works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that highlight intersections of material, symbolic, and monetary value, as well as topics that specifically deal with the extraction, trade, and artistic use of the raw materials (especially rare earth metals) that are used in screens, and their social repercussions.
Born in Seville, Manuel Prados is an artist and researcher. He is currently developing the interdisciplinary project Languages of Art in the Limits of Perception at Medialab Prado, Madrid, producing prototypes and artistic experiences collectively, and discussing with artists and scientists how we could transcend the thresholds of sensitive perception. Previous projects include The Invasive Garden at Tabakalera International Centre for Contemporary Culture, San Sebastián, in 2018, where he created a garden of invasive vegetal species, and The Unearthed Mirror, presented in Seville in 2017 after long-term research on pre-Hispanic obsidian art crafts funded by the Mexican Ministry of Culture. From 2005 to 2012, he worked for BNV Producciones in Seville, organizing cultural activities and developing UNIA art and thinking (http://ayp.unia.es), a project for the International University of Andalusia, with the aim of incorporating the University into the discussion, production, diffusion, and consolidation of contemporary creation and thought.
George Yúdice is Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, and Latin American Studies, at the University of Miami. He is the author of The Expediency of Culture (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2004); Nuevas tecnologías, música y experiencia (Barcelona: Gedisa, 2007); and Culturas emergentes en el mundo hispano de Estados Unidos (Madrid: Fundación Alternativas, 2009); and editor of, and contributor to, Revista Observatório Itaú Cultural 20: Políticas culturais para a diversidade: lacunas inquietantes (São Paulo, May 2016). He has published more than 150 essays in refereed journals and edited books on literature, art, and culture in Latin America and the US. He is currently completing a book entitled Interaction of Ways of Knowing and Doing, with case studies on the Medialab Prado (Madrid), Casa Gallina (Mexico), the Museu de Arte do Rio de Janeiro, and the Agência de Redes para Juventude (Rio de Janeiro).