The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland presents Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible , the largest solo presentation of the artist’s work to date.
The title of the exhibition is derived from the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, who assert that “to go unnoticed, is by no means easy,” and positions Pendleton’s practice as a form of counter-portraiture. The works on view explore visual and cultural framing practices to re-contextualize European, African, and American aesthetic and cultural movements from Minimalism and Dada to Black Lives Matter.
The exhibition brings together works that exemplify the artist’s diverse practice, including a large-scale vinyl wall work, Black Lives Matter #3 (wall work) (2015), a film installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard (2011–14), floor-based abstract ceramic sculptures Code Poems (2016), and works from Pendleton’s ongoing series of Black Dada paintings.
Narrating the soundscape of the gallery, the 3-screen film installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard offers an intimate depiction of Hilliard, an educator and the former founding Chief of Staff of the Black Panther Party. The film was shot in Oakland, CA as Pendleton accompanied Hilliard through neighborhoods that were once home to the Black Panther Movement during the 1960s. Hilliard is presented from multiple perspectives, creating an abstract narrative that challenges assumptions about history as a series of singular events built on objective truths.
Central to the exhibition are works that rearticulate Conceptual and Minimalist art practices. Pendleton’s Black Dada paintings, an ongoing body of work the artist began in 2008, recontextualize the phrase “Black Dada” by reframing the letters of each word with cropped images of Sol Lewitt’s Incomplete Open Cube sculptures (1974). Another series, Untitled (water) (2014) appropriates photographs of water surfaces taken by Josef Albers in 1929 to explore ideas about order and disorder. These two bodies of work, like many in Pendleton’s oeuvre, bring together historic forms of avant-garde discourse to prompt reconsiderations of familiar cultural referents.
Becoming Imperceptible is curated by Andrea Andersson Ph. D., the Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) New Orleans, and was originated by the CAC. MOCA Cleveland’s presentation of Becoming Imperceptible is organized by Senior Curator Andria Hickey.