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MOCA Goes Big With Major Shows to Anchor These Cold Months in Cleveland

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Opening this week, MOCA Cleveland's winter/spring exhibitions include Adam Pendleton's largest solo museum show to date, Lisa Oppenheim's first solo show in the United States, and a site-specific sound installation, Transport Empty, in MOCA's Stair A by artists Zarouhie Abdalian and Joseph Rosenzweig.

In the Mueller Family Gallery and Rosalie + Morton Cohen Family Gallery, Adam Pendleton's Becoming Imperceptible includes wall-based graphic vinyl installations, a multichannel film installation, ceramic floor sculptures and framed silkscreens printed on mirror. The exhibition's title is derived from the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari who claim that "to go unnoticed, is by no means easy." For his MOCA exhibition, Pendleton explores and re-contextualizes African, American and European aesthetic and cultural movements, including historic art movements such as Dada and Minimalism, as well as contemporary social concerns such as Black Lives Matter.

"Adam Pendleton is a brilliant contemporary artist who raises questions about authorship and history," says Jill Snyder, MOCA's executive director. "The result is both provocative and thoughtful, showing how language and abstraction can interrogate both history and politics. With programming that mirrors social and political realities, MOCA sees Becoming Imperceptible as a timely exhibition."

Curated by Andria Andersson, from the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible originated in New Orleans and traveled to Denver before coming to Cleveland. Cleveland's presentation is organized by MOCA Cleveland senior curator Andria Hickey.

"Adam Pendleton's work reimagines the history of 20th century art movements using a prolific process of research and the manipulation of archival materials," says Hickey. "Through cutting, editing, collage and reproduction, he reframes the way we see the images and ideologies of both our past and our yet-to-be-imagined future. His work explores the function of abstraction and offers a powerful perspective on how our systems of language and identity are constructed, distributed and processed anew."

Meanwhile, the Toby Devan Lewis Gallery presents Lisa Oppenheim: Spine. The exhibition's title refers to Oppenheim's exploration of the spine and its relationship to the body, the natural world and labor.

"Lisa Oppenheim's use of appropriated historical imagery alongside modern photographic technologies, in addition to her employment of unusual materials such as wood, fabric and lace, elicit senses of both wonder and inquiry," says Snyder.

Curated by Hickey, the exhibition includes three bodies of work: Lewis Hine photographs, jacquard weavings and landscape portraits. In Spines, Oppenheim draws inspiration from 20th century documentary photographer and sociologist Lewis Hine and his most well-known photographs documenting immigrant and child labor conditions in American mills and factories. These photographs, accessible today through the Library of Congress' photographic archive, depict primarily young, female adolescent textile workers with physically misshapen backs as they wok at looms. Reproduced at life-size, Oppenheim bisects each image with a superimposed vertical line through the subject's spine.

These images are juxtaposed with a series of new jacquard loom woven textiles based on Oppenheim's research into a series of pre-Columbian textile fragments in the permanent collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Still used today, the punch-card operated jacquard loom is a humble technological precursor to the modern computer. Together with the Lewis Hine photographs, these works create a dialogue between labor and production in the textile industry over time.

Lastly, Spine includes a new series of photograms from Oppenheim's Landscape Portraits series, using the intricate wood grain of fallen trees to suggest a place and time. Oppenheim connects labor and industry to the evolution of photography as a means for production and documentation.

"Lisa Oppenheim's research-based practice brings a network of references together in these new works," says Hickey. "Her interventions into the photographs of Lewis Hine function as keystone in the exhibition, addressing a poetic relationship to her woven works and her photograms of fallen trees. As her first museum solo show in the U.S., the exhibition exemplifies Oppenheim's practice in form, subject and process."

MOCA Cleveland celebrates its new exhibitions with an opening night celebration this Friday, Jan. 27. The evening begins at 7 p.m. with an artist talk by Pendleton, Oppenheim and Hickey. Music and a cash bar follow from 8 to 10 p.m., and throughout the evening guests can create their own artwork inspired by the new exhibitions.

The following day at 3 p.m., the museum hosts a more intimate reception and artist talk with Oppenheim and Hickey, who will take questions from the audience. Admission to Saturday's reception is free with museum admission.

The exhibitions remain on view through May 14. While the opening night celebration is free, admission to the galleries is $9.50, and less for children, seniors and students. MOCA Cleveland admission is complimentary on the first Saturday of each month during MOCA Free First Saturdays, made possible by PNC.

MOCA Cleveland is at 11400 Euclid Ave. To learn more, call 216-421-8671, or visit mocacleveland.org.

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