“Looking at Mars, this imagined space reflects most humans back to Earth.”
Since relocating to California’s Mojave desert in 2013, artist MPA (b. 1980; Redding, CA) has been immersed in a broad inquiry into the potential colonization of Mars, often known as the red planet. In this multi-part exhibition the artist looks at Mars as a place for settlement and a resource for our own planet, as well as a site of possible human origin. MPA’s research considers unconventional sources such as mythology, psychic accounts, and personal narratives, as credible authorities. By reflecting more generally on histories of colonization, RED IN VIEW raises questions of militarism and patriarchy, prompting us to examine our own, often subconscious, colonizing behaviors.
This work was first presented as THE INTERVIEW: Red, Red Future (2016), organized by curator Dean Daderko, at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. RED IN VIEW, her exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, presents the second episode in this ongoing project.
RED IN VIEW unfolds in four movements throughout the museum. The exhibition begins in the lobby gallery and extends to the theater in February for a culminating performance. Over the course of ten continuous days, MPA and artists Malin Arnell and Amapola Prada perform Orbit, living in the narrow space between the windowpanes of the theater. The space becomes a biosphere: an enclosed, self-sustaining habitat, modeled after an environment where the first settlers on Mars might reside. (Aspects of the exhibition will be on view through February 27, 2017 in the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery, on the Museum’s first floor, which is accessible to the public free-of-charge.)
December 9, and January 13, 7–9:30 pm, Lobby and Lobby Gallery: A periodic live appearance in the gallery by two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.
II. The Interview
November 11–February 27, Lobby Gallery: The interview is active. You are invited to pick up the phone.
February 9–19, Floor Three, Hess Family Theater: A test. MPA, with artists Malin Arnell and Amapola Prada, inhabit the narrow space between the windowpanes of the theater, overlooking the Hudson River. For twenty-four hours a day over the course of ten days, the space becomes an artificial biosphere: an enclosed, self-sustaining habitat, modeled after an environment where the first settlers on Mars would likely reside. The participants’ conditions emulate those of astronauts orbiting the earth: sleeping in ninety-minute periods and receiving messages on a delay. Everything is recorded and live-edited for Orbit TV, the final document of the trial.
February 19, 8 pm, Floor Three, Hess Family Theater *Tickets required: MPA hosts a dramatic live finale of Orbit. This theatrical event orchestrates a culminating series of actions within a sound environment by M. Cay Castagnetto.
MPA (b. 1980) has explored a range of meditative, durational, theatrical, and actionist modes of performance to engage “the energetic” as a potential material in live work. Enriched with ritual, her performances and installations critically examine behaviors of power in personal and social spaces. In previous works, she has proposed questions on the global arms race, patriarchy as governance, and the dysfunctional union of art and capitalist commodity. MPA’s work has been exhibited at the Swiss Institute, New York; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico. Her dynamic body of work Directing Light onto Fist of Father (2011) at Leo Koenig Projekte in New York, combined a looping 16 mm film and a plaster cast of MPA’s father’s fist in an installation that incited three durational performances. In Trilogy (o) (2012), presented at Human Resources in Los Angeles, NASA sound recordings of dying stars accompanied thirty-one photographs of Nike war missiles arranged as a moon calendar.
A frequent collaborator, MPA is a visible muse for many contemporary photographers, painters, and performers. After receiving a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant in 2013, MPA relocated from New York City to Twentynine Palms, CA to continue her research with somatic practices. Since 2013, MPA has focused these studies with research on the potential human colonization of Mars.
RED IN VIEW is organized by Jay Sanders, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance and Greta Hartenstein, Senior Curatorial Assistant, with Allie Tepper, Curatorial Project Assistant. Major support is provided by the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation. Significant support for the Whitney’s Performance Program is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Generous support is also provided by the Performance Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Artist Credits: Davida Nemeroff, Omar Wilson, M. Cay Castagnetto, Rachelle Sawatsky, Donnie Cervantes, Cameron Crone, Trina Merry, Lydia Okrent, Mariana Valencia, Makayla Bailey, and Rose Wonderfabulous.