Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran
258 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10026
Ethiopian-born Julie Mehretu created a pair of towering, turbulent, monumental paintings in a former neo-Gothic church in Harlem in the months following the 2016 elections. Jason Moran, American jazz pianist, composer, visual artist, and frequent collaborator with Joan Jonas, Lorna Simpson, Stan Douglas, and Glenn Ligon, would join her regularly on the balcony of this cavernous temporary studio. He improvised a score of quickly paced, melancholic songs on an electric piano, ones which sound similar to those played during New Orleans funeral processions, in response to her covering each enormous canvas with her signature mark-making style. Both the massive paintings, commissioned for a several-years-long display in SFMoMA’s entrance lobby, were made in regard to the MacArthur “Genius” Grant and U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts-winning artist’s state of mourning over the current political landscape of the United States. They also layer in images of public revolts following the extra-judicial killings of young black men in Ferguson and Baltimore. Moran’s (also a “Genius" Grant awardee) emotional soundtrack is equally concerned with light as a way that one can register and experience time while moving in space. Both achievements nourish each other to form a pair of sublime artworks, which clear a space for light in a time of darkness.
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Image credit: Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran, MASS (HOWL, eon) , 2017. Photos © Paula Court. Courtesy of Performa.
Curated by Adrienne Edwards and RoseLee Goldberg. Supported by the Performa Commissioning Fund and Marian Goodman Gallery.